- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23712
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
The text is from the Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals (NMT - the "Green Set"), vol. 5, pp. 1064-1163. It (and the first five volumes of the set) have been scanned and are available as page-by-page view at the Mazal Library, at:
* * * * * *
B. Concurring Opinion by Judge Michael A. Musmanno
Oswald Pohl and his seventeen codefendants above enumerated have been indicted under Control Council Law No. 10, enacted by the Allied Control Council on 20 December 1945.
At varying times between January 1933 and April 1945, the defendants were administrators of the concentration camps of Germany and German occupied territory, and in the execution of these duties were, with the exception of Hohberg, all members of the Schutzstaffeln der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiterpartei, commonly known as the SS, which in itself was adjudicated by the International Military Tribunal to be a criminal organization, and also declared to be such by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10.
The indictment, filed in Nuernberg 13 January 1947 by Brigadier General Telford Taylor, Chief of Counsel for War Crimes, acting on behalf of the United States of America, charges the defendants with maintaining and administering concentration camps in such a manner as to visit injury, disease, starvation, torture, and death on thousands and millions of inmates. The indictment also charges the defendants with participation in a program of mass murders, spoliation, and expropriation on millions of Jews, Slavs, Poles, and other peoples, both in and out of the conquered countries. The indictment is laid in four counts, which because of its length will not be quoted in full. In condensed form it provides:
COUNT ONE — THE COMMON DESIGN
The defendants, acting in concert with each other and with others, unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It was a part of these plans and
1. To formulate and carry out ways and means for financing the Schutzstaffeln der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiter
• Page 1065
partei (commonly known as the "SS") and each of its various purposes, functions, activities, and enterprises.
2. To establish and maintain throughout Germany and other countries concentration and labor camps in which thousands of persons, including prisoners of war, German civilians, and nationals of other countries, were unlawfully imprisoned, enslaved, tortured, and murdered.
3. To supply the labor and services of the inmates of concentration camps to various industries and undertakings.
4. To furnish human subjects for criminal medical experimentation and to assist in carrying out the plans for such unlawful experiments.
5. To carry out the policy of the German Reich, to exterminate the Jewish race, to sterilize and castrate certain groups of peoples.
6. To carry out the so-called "euthanasia" program; and
7. To deport citizens of countries occupied by the armed forces of the German Reich, plundering their property, and impressing their services and labor for the German Reich.
Throughout the period covered by this indictment all of the defendants herein were associated with the Economic and Administrative Main Office (Wirtschafts- and Verwaltungshauptamt, commonly known as the "WVHA"), which was one of the twelve main departments of the SS.
The defendants participated as leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices in the formulation and execution of the said plans and enterprises, and accordingly are individually responsible for their own acts and for all acts performed by any person or persons in execution of the said plans and enterprises.
COUNT TWO — WAR CRIMES
Between September 1939 and April 1945 all of the defendants herein unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly committed war crimes, as defined by Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the commission of atrocities and offenses against persons and property, including, but not limited to, plunder of public and private property, murder, torture, illegal imprisonment, and enslavement and deportation to slave labor of, and brutalities, atrocities, and other inhumane and criminal acts against thousands of persons.
The WVHA took over jurisdiction of the concentration camps in Germany and the occupied countries and territories in the spring of 1942, and was charged also with the establishment and operation of new concentration camps.
• Page 1066
In Poland, Russia, and other countries the defendants assisted in planning and carrying out the plunder, spoliation, and confiscation of real and personal property of Jewish, Russian, Polish, and other private owners; of churches, communities, towns, cities, and states; the deportation to slave labor and other purposes of civilians there resident, and the resettlement of such regions by peoples asserted by the Nazis to be Aryans. The defendants systematically confiscated the personal property of living and deceased inmates of concentration camps.
Civilians and prisoners of war from all the countries of Europe were deported from their homelands and herded into the concentration camps, some of which were fitted with special installations, such as gas chambers and sealed buses, where they were exterminated.
Experiments were carried out to determine how most efficiently to use the labor and services of the living members of undesired "races" and nationalities, and to insure that such persons would be unable to propagate their kind. Countless persons, including nationals of occupied territories, were murdered in the so-called "euthanasia" program of the German Reich.
The defendants assisted in planning and carrying out medical, surgical, and biological experiments upon hundreds of involuntary human subjects, without regard to the lives of such subjects, resulting in the murder, torture, and ill-treatment of hundreds of persons.
COUNT THREE—CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Between September 1939 and April 1945 all of the defendants herein unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly committed crimes against humanity as defined by Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the commission of atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, illegal imprisonment, torture, persecution on political, racial, and religious grounds, and ill-treatment of, and other inhumane and criminal acts against German civilians and nationals of other countries.
COUNT FOUR — MEMBERSHIP IN CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION
All of the defendants herein, except defendant Hohberg, are charged with membership, subsequent to 1 September 1939, in the Schutzstaffeln der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiter
• Page 1067
partei (commonly known as the "SS"), declared to be criminal by the International Military Tribunal and paragraph 1 (d), Article II of Control Council Law No. 10.
In the general lurid picture of World War II, with its wrecked cities, uprooted farmland, demolished transportation facilities, and public utilities, starvation, disease, ashes, death, rubble, and dust, one item of horror seems to stand out with particularly dramatic and tragic intensity — the concentration camp. It can be seriously doubted in the world of today, even among the most meagerly informed peoples that there exists a man or woman who in some manner or other has not heard of and recoiled: at the mention of the phrase concentration camp.
Newspapers, magazines, books, lectures, and motion pictures have told the story in every country, in every city, village, hamlet, and town of organized society. Now it has been unfolded in a courtroom with all the safeguards for truth which judicial procedure affords. Prosecution and defense has each told its side, here every witness was subject to examination, cross-examination, recross-examination and then examination by the Court itself. At the bar of justice, documents could be and were scrutinized for authenticity, and the oath of truthfulness with the penalty of contempt ever ready for its violation, was imposed on every witness and defendant.
The trial lasted 101 days. The stenographic record of the testimony runs to 8,048 pages. The prosecution introduced 742 documents, and the defense 615 documents, totalling in all, several thousand pages. Prosecution and defense counsel (19 lawyers in all, in addition to the various assistants) made both opening statements and closing arguments, and the defendants themselves were allowed, in addition to the fullest rights of a witness, an opportunity to make a final declaration to the Court. From all this emerged a judicial pronouncement on concentration camps.
Although the majority of the Tribunal has filed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of each defendant, with which I, of course, concur, it does not, for reasons later noted, devote considerable space to the corpus delicti itself. There should be one document sufficiently comprehensive to which the legal profession and the lay public, now and in the future, can turn for an authoritative account on concentration camps. They should not be required to read through thousands of pages of transcript and scan tons of documents to obtain an adequate picture of this supreme crime against humanity through the ages. The writing, in the majority
• Page 1068
opinion, of a separate treatment on each of the 18 defendants already made for a rather long document, so that a complete coverage of the various features of the case with quotations and citations would produce a greater number of pages than might be met in the definite judgment. Thus, this concurring opinion is being filed so that there will be readily available a longer discussion for those desiring a more detailed account of the facts which brought about the judgment.
The Economic Administration Main Office, commonly known as the WVHA, which maintained, administered, and operated the concentration camps of Germany and occupied territories was one of the Main Offices of the SS. This latter organization came into being in 1925 as an "elite section of the SA" for the ostensible purpose of protecting Nazi speakers at public meetings but with the avowed object of clearing away all obstacles in the political path to power of Hitler and his aggressive cohorts. In 1933 when the seizure of the government had been effectuated, the SS numbered 52,000 men. With each further increase of Nazi power the SS augmented in size and importance. By 1939 its ranks totaled 240,000 men and it was known as the Allgemeine SS. The SS originally contained two other formations, the Special Service [Purpose] Troops and the Death Head formations. The latter became guards for the concentration camps.
In 1939, units from the Special Service [Purpose] Troops and the Death Head formations fought in the Polish campaign under the designation of Waffen SS. By 1940 the Waffen SS numbered 100,000 and by the end of the war it could boast 40 divisions of 580,000 men. Defendant Tschentscher testified that the total strength of the Waffen SS numbered 1,000,000.
The SS Central Organization had 12 main offices, the two most important of which were the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and the WVHA. The latter, in addition to its concentration camp duties, administered and financed the various SS outfits; and [the SS also] operated a race and settlement office together with auxiliary offices for repatriation of racial Germans (Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle).
Heinrich Himmler, as the supreme police officer of the German Reich and Reichsfuehrer SS, constituted in himself the law for all branches of the SS, and a fortiori for the concentration camps, their administrators, guards, and inmates. As chief of the WVHA, Oswald Pohl, number 1 defendant in this case, represented Himmler and spoke in his name. In order to understand the
• Page 1069
controlling and guiding spirit of concentration camp administration it is necessary to speak of Heinrich Himmler.
Much that happened in concentration camps is simply incomprehensible, unless one comprehends Heinrich Himmler. The aims, purposes, and objectives of this incredible person must be blueprinted, before the happenings within the barbed wire enclosures of Germany make any sense at all. Without knowing Heinrich Himmler, life and death in concentration camps is simply a chaotic jumble of brutal primeval forces. With Heinrich Himmler the lurid farrago acquires order, system, direction, and goal.
Nowhere did Himmler more articulately reveal himself than in the speech to his SS generals at Poznan, Poland, in October 1943. The basic principle for the SS man, Himmler said, way that the SS man must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of his own blood and to nobody else.
"What happens to a Russian, to a Czech does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interest me only in so far a we need them as slaves for our Kultur [culture] ; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. * * * Our concern, our duty is our people and our blood. It is for them that we must provide and plan, work and fight, nothing else. We can be indifferent to everything else." (* III/12, Doc. 1919-PS.)
Absolutely slavish loyalty to Hitler was of course demanded: of every SS man:
"If within the sphere of your knowledge there is ever anyone who is disloyal to the Fuehrer, or to the Reich, even if it is only in thought, you must see to it that this man is thrown out of the organization, and we will see to it that he departs this life." (* III/17, Doc. 1919-PS.)
This chaining of even one's thoughts to Hitler will help to clarify much of what is otherwise inexplicable in the unfoldment of SS excesses which often go beyond the realm of normal mental assimilation. This explains how supposedly educated men can attend unflinchingly and even approvingly upon a man who speaks casually of out-and-out murder — "It is a mere nothing to shoot 10 Poles."
These SS men listened without resentment to Himmler reproaching those who engaged in all "the silly talk about humanity."
This man who refers to talk about humanity as silly, is the
* Designations represent document book number and page.
• Page 1070
man whose word was law in the concentration camps; the man who with a stroke of the pen could wipe out thousands of human lives. (VIII/54, Doc. NO-2465.)
Extoling the mass murder of Jews, Himmler said: "This is a page of glory in our history." Discoursing on the law of selection, Himmler portrayed for his hearers at Poznan the evaluation of the German character held together through the centuries by Nordic-Phalian-German blood. This new Nordi-Germanic person contains in himself the "creative, heroic, and life-preserving quality of the German people", and it devolves upon this Nordi-Germanic blood not only to win the war against the "subhuman" but to prepare for the afterwar period, "then this organization will march forward into the future young and strong, revolutionary and efficient, to fulfil the task of giving the German people, the Germanic people, the superstratum of society which will combine and hold together this Germanic people and this Europe; and from which the brains which the people need for industry, farming, politics, and as soldiers, statesmen and technicians, will emerge." (III/16, 17, Doc. 1919-PS.)
And the superstratum must be so strong and vital that every generation can unreservedly sacrifice two or three sons from every family on the battlefield and that, "nevertheless, the continued flowing of the bloodstream is assured." (III/16, Doc. 1919-PS.)
It would appear from this that the ending of World War II was to be but the beginning of another war and still further wars — and this is exactly what Himmler envisaged. "Germany will impose her laws on the East and push forward little by little to the Urals. This generation must successfully bring it about that every SS division must spend a winter in the East every second and third year. Then we shall never grow soft."
And then he visualizes the great battle of Germany with its 250 to 300 millions (!) and other European peoples making a force of 600 to 700 millions battling one and a half million Asiatics.
The prosecution introduced during the trial an SS publication entitled, "The Subhuman." In magazine form, it consisted of scores of photographs comparing the vile Jews, Poles, and Russians against the cultured, civilized, Nordic Germans. The pictures on the left pages revealed unshaven, unkempt, ragged, emaciated, sickly humans; the pictures on the right portrayed well fed, cleanly dressed, washed, and shaven Germans. This descent into artificial and dishonest contrast reached its nadir of unfairness when it reproduced on one left hand page a picture
• Page 1071
of piteous, starving, diseased Jewish-Russian children, and on the other side fat, beribboned, laughing German boys and girls. The text accompanying the pictures was even more revolting than the pictorial comparison of poor unfortunate humanity with better favored creatures of the human race.
Even Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, and LaGuardia were pictured with these inscriptions:
"Subhuman will remain subhuman, and Jew will remain Jew, whether they are called Churchill, Roosevelt, or LaGuardia. For us they are the scum of the earth. They back Stalin, the subhuman No. 1. They are his confederates and comrades."
Some of the other inscriptions are quoted here, their application to the pictures being apparent:
"The subhuman, this apparently fully equal creation of nature, when seen from a biological viewpoint, with hands, feet, and a sort of brain; with eyes and a mouth, nevertheless is quite a different, a dreadful creature, is only an imitation of man with man-resembling features, but inferior to any animal as regards intellect and soul. In its interior, this being is a cruel chaos of wild, unrestricted passions, with a nameless will to destruction, with a most primitive lust, and of unmasked depravity.
"Subhuman — and nothing else.
"For not everything is alike that has a human face.
"Beast called beast.
"And this underworld of subhumans found its leader: the eternal Jew."
Although several of the defendants denied at the trial knowing anything about this SS publication, a letter introduced in evidence revealed that it was Himmler's intention this propaganda sheet should reach every German home. (Tr. p. 7158.)
That Himmler was a psychopathic degenerate must now be obvious to all the German people. But the enigma is that his intelligent contemporaries could listen without becoming ill to his imbecilities about the master race, Nordic supremacy, beauty, and culture.
When he spoke of "good blood," did not his hearers see that his face contained about as much blood as an angleworm, and when he expatiated on physical beauty, was it not obvious that he was as beautiful as an anteater, and when he ranted on culture, did no one recall that he had the manners of a Patagonian goat?
In April 1943, at Kharkov, he boasted that in each invaded country he set up an SS organization.
"From the beginning, I have said to them, ‘You can do what
• Page 1072
you like and leave what you like.’ I leave everything entirely to you, but you may be sure, that an SS will be set up in your country, and there is but one SS in Europe, and that is the Germanic SS, led by the Reichsfuehrer SS. You can resist, or you can offer no resistance, it's all the same to me. We shall do it in any case." (III/23, Doc. 1919-PS.)
He promised further, that not only would the Germans in the Balkans be restored to the Fatherland, but also those in America.
"I beg you, rather (and here too I am stating a very sober opinion), to think in this case of these Germans in the whole of the Balkans, still more of these overseas, in America, when one day we must fetch over here in millions — and we shall succeed in doing so — who have held out for centuries." (III/24, Doc. 1919-PS.)
And then, nothing undaunted, Himmler is to grow new blood, good Germanic blood:
"They are the necessary conditions, for our race, and our blood to create for itself and put under cultivation, in the years of peace, (during which we must live and work austerely, frugally and like Spartans), that settlement area in which new blood can breed, as in a botanical garden so to speak. (sic.) Only by this means can the continent become a Germanic continent, capable of daring to embark, in one, or two, or three, or five, or ten generations, on the conflict with this continent of Asia which spews hordes of humanity." (III/25, Doc. 1919-PS.)
This brain staggering speech does not omit, of course, the prediction of a Germanic world empire.
"The result — and I am convinced of this, I believe it and I know it — the result, the end of this war, regardless of however many months or even years it lasts, will be this: that the Reich, the German Reich, or the Germanic Reich of the German nation will with just title find confirmation of its evolution, that we have an outlet and a way open to us in the East, and that then, centuries later, a political Germany — a Germanic World Empire will be formed. That will be the result, that will be the fruit of all the many, many sacrifices, which have been made and which must still be made." (III/23, Doc. 1919-PS.)
This is the kind of maggoty meat on which the SS fed. This is the brand of criminal psychopathy they accepted as the expression of an exalted patriotism.
Although the SS organization was made up of the elite insofar as blood was concerned, it was ever in search of additional blood, and thus it developed an operation entitled, "Search for German Blood."
This search was not restricted to an actual quest
• Page 1073
for Germanic corpuscles; it included also good, valuable property such as farms, fields, and factories in Poland, which, upon confiscation, were to be given a Germanic character. "A beginning should be made as soon as possible with changing the style of farms, fields, etc., in order to give them a pure, German character. Great importance has to be attached to the planting of hedges, etc." (XI/119, Doc. NO-30.)
Then there was the SS Race and Settlement Main Office which selected families and individuals of non-German blood, fit for incorporation into the German nation. At a conference on 19 August 1943, between One RSHA and the Race and Settlement Main Office, it was even admitted that the German nation itself did not have fixed characteristics.
"Great weight must be attached to this point of view as the racial substance of the German nation is permanently subject to changes due to the incorporation of new families from formerly non-German nationalities. * * * In this connection the procedure of reincorporation into the German nation comprise the incorporation of whole families and individuals as recorded by the race and settlement offices as well as all such cases as are proposed by the Higher SS and Police Leaders, including all mixed marriages and all questions of nationality." (VI/53, 54, Doc. NO-1763.) On 17 November 1943, chief of department [division] D of WVHA, ordered that in questioning inmates for re-Germanization or for special treatment, it became necessary to examine the prisoner from the racial point of view. It must be remembered that in SS language, special treatment meant hanging! (VI/55, Doc. NO-1452.)
Every code of chivalry bows in reverence before the church and clergy of all denominations and accepts with pride the protection of women and children the world over.
Although the SS organization was supposedly made up of the elite of German manhood, and although it pompously paraded an outward display of chivalrous ceremony, one searches in vain throughout the entire records of the organization for one single instance of a truly chivalrous deed. Into concentration camps they herded priests of all denominations; churches, and synagogues they desecrated and destroyed; women and children, if not Nordic born, were regarded and treated as weaklings.
Although the Nazi Government, in its early history, moved cautiously and slowly against the church in Germany proper, this caution dissipated and disappeared once the Nazi soldiers crossed the frontiers:
"In Poland as a first and eloquent example, the world learned
• Page 1074
and became convinced of Hitler's destructive designs with reference to religion. The monument of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus at Poznan was blown up. They destroyed the stone chapelets with dynamite; the crosses were torn down and chopped to bits; churches were destroyed or converted into theatres, concert halls, (e.g., the cathedral in Gniezno), dance halls, or storage places for ordnance supplies. From numerous Polish diocese, as for example the diocese of Poznan, Breslau, Pomerania, Gniezno, and others, the Germans exported all the Polish priests that they could get their hands on to concentration camps. (In very many countries they were all murdered.) It was the German belief that once they rid the people of priests, their task of inculcating into the souls of the Polish people, their own impious and wicked religious beliefs would be much simpler. " * * The priests who were arrested, as well as the archbishop and bishop, were placed in concentration camps together with criminals." (Doc. 1943-PS.) In December 1940, all priests imprisoned in various concentration camps were moved to Dachau. For a short period they were unmolested and were even allowed to hold chapel services. But on 24 September 1941, the Polish priests were deprived of their prayer books, rosaries, and all religious articles, and committed to manual labor.
They were put to work at building crematories and gas chambers:
"Those priests who died were removed on wheelbarrows. The priests labored in the blazing heat and during inclement weather with no food and insufficient dress. SS troops gave the guards strict orders to use the clergy on the most difficult and hazardous jobs. Punishment was very severe for the slightest offense."
Their living conditions at Dachau were intolerable. (IV/119, Doc. 1943-PS.)
"In an assembly hall built to house 50 people, 308 priests resided. Three priests slept on a single bed. There was no opportunity for sleep or rest, yet it was necessary to do difficult manual labor. Their daily rations consisted of approximately one-eighth of a loaf of bread weighing about 185 grams, and one liter of watery soup. Of 1,646 of them who were arrested and sent to Dachau, 846 died as a result of the tortures inflicted there. Only 794 secular priests and monks, and also brothers of the same order remained." (IV/120, Doc. 1943-PS.) Priests were used for medical experiments. Rev. Stanislaw Wolak, who spent 5½ years at Dachau stated:
"Of the twenty of us who were taken for experimental purposes, seven died a horrible death. Others remained crippled
• Page 1075
for the rest of their lives. These were the methods utilized by barbaric Hitlerites in their attempt to make medical progress." (IV/124, Doc. 1943-PS.)
At Auschwitz, clergymen were used for road-building —
"The steam roller used for pressing down gravel was tended and pulled by Catholic priests only. They were whipped with clubs until they fell unconscious, and then the steam roller rolled over them and crushed them." (XVIII/178, Doc. 2223-PS.) That part of this opinion which treats of racial extermination will describe how children in concentration camps were gassed and cremated, sometimes cremated before being gassed. No language is capable of conveying the horror of these deeds. All we can do in this opinion is to quote from official records, document, and the testimony of witnesses, so that in some later period a Dante or a Victor Hugo may be found who will tell in words of searing agony this great shame of the human race in the 20th century.
Only a Shakespeare could find the appropriate level of literary ignominy to which to consign the SS general who ordered the execution of 20 children because they had been experimented on, and then sent to the gas chambers, the four nurses who had witnessed the experiments. (V/133, Doc. NO-1201.)
At Auschwitz, one SS doctor, Hauptsturmfuehrer Mengele, conducted a series of experiments on twin children. During the experiment he accorded them the best of care, provided excellent. lodging, and abundant food. The children were valuable for his studies ordered by the "Rassenforschungsinstitut" [Institute for Racial Research] in Berlin. Once the experiment was completed, he "took the children to the gas chamber where he himself shot them down with the pistol." (XI/37, Doc. NO-1949.)
On 6 January 1943, Himmler wrote Pohl:
"In operations against guerilla troops, men, women and children suspected of guerilla activities will be rounded up and shipped to the camps in Lublin or Auschwitz." (XII/55, Doc. NO-2031.) It will be noted here that Himmler demands the arrest of all those who are merely suspected. Since there exists no rule to guide the serpent of suspicion, especially when it is armed with the fangs of prejudice, therefore, women and children could be, and were, picked up on the mere whim and caprice of the arresting party. The women were put to work in concentration camps; "racially worthless adolescents were assigned apprentices to SS economic enterprises," and children were placed in collective camps where they were to be taught "obedience, diligence, uncon-
• Page 1076
ditional subordination, and honesty towards their German masters." It is interesting to observe that the honesty to be imparted to the children was to be limited to that due German masters. Of course in addition, the children worked as stone masons, locksmiths, joiners, weavers, spinners, and knitters on the farms and at other jobs. (XII/55, Doc. NO-2031.)
The fight against partisans was often used as an excuse for wiping out whole families and clans.
"The men of a guilty family, in many cases of the whole clan are to be executed on principle; the women are to be arrested and taken to a concentration camp; the children are to be removed from their homes, and concentrated in that part of the Gau that had originally belonged to the Reich. As to numbers and racial value of these children, I am expecting separate reports. All property of the guilty families will be confiscated." (IV/79, Doc. NO-681.)
Women in the concentration camps on the whole fared worse than the men, "because nobody concerned themselves about them."
One prisoner, speaking of conditions at the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrueck stated:
"Even if on the whole the working conditions and the camp conditions did not turn out to be so harsh as in Buchenwald, we, however, certainly were acquainted with the fact that common means of punishment were cutting off the hair of the female prisoners and beating the prisoners on their naked buttocks." Children also worked with the women, some as young as 8 years of age.
Pohl, on the witness stand, justified the presence of many children in the concentration camps on the ground that they also, in their own way, participated in the guerilla warfare against the Reich.
Upon the arrival of the first shipment of Jews from Hungary, Pohl notified Himmler that 50 percent of them were women.
"Since there is not sufficient adequate, purely female work available for this large number of women, we must put them to work for OT construction projects. Your approval is requested." (XIII/34, Doc. NO-592.)
Himmler reported: "Of course Jewish women are to be made use of for labor." And then as a gesture of solicitude for their health, he instructed Pohl to "be sure to import garlic from Hungary in sufficient quantity." (XIII/36, Doc. NO-030b.)
Himmler was not entirely devoid of a sense of benevolence. On 14 July 1993, he ordered that the infliction of punishment on Russian women was to be done by Polish women; and on Polish
• Page 1077
and Ukrainian women, by Russian women. "And as a reward the prisoners inflicting a punishment were to be given a few cigarettes." (V/177, Doc. 2187-PS.)
And as further evidence of his tender heart toward womankind, attention is directed to his order of 22 January 1943, "that women sentenced to death shall have no previous indication of the proposed execution of the death penalty." (VI/11, Doc. NO-1526.)
Never, however, was he so touched as when he learned (in the development of his plan that prostitutes were to warm men used in the freezing experiments), that a truly Nordic woman was being serviced for this job. This should never be, he declared because "she belongs to that type of girl upon whom the attempt must be made in order to save her for the German people, and for her yet later life." (VII/102, Doc. 1583-PS.)
The writer of this opinion does not believe that the German people en masse knew of the obscenities, imbecilities, and criminalities of Himmler. However, the SS leaders and subleaders could not fail to be familiar with Himmler's schemes and ventures which ran the whole gamut of crime from petty thievery to mass murder. These trials are not only to render justice in accordance with the rules of law and humanity, but they are also to serve the purpose of acquainting the German people with the true character of the false gods they idolized and blindly followed. The German people must be enlightened on all the arrogance, conceit, pusillanimity, and brutality which went into SS uniform. The German people must learn what pigmies rattled about in the big black boots of the Rottenfuehrer, Hauptscharfuehrer, Sturmscharfuehrer, and Obergruppenfuehrer. They will then demand in the future a show of worth, of religion, of honesty, of fundamental decency in a man before accepting him as a leader.
The tinsel trappings must be torn away and the SS revealed in all its shamelessness and cupidity. The German people must know the SS scale of values. Concentration Camp Inspector Morgen, in bringing charges against one Standartenfuehrer Koch, commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp, listed his offenses as; first, embezzlement and disloyalty; and second, murder. To the SS hierarchy human life was not as important as money and what it stands for. It was this type of gross presumption which placed SS men outside the doors of the Quedlinburg Cathedral to charge an entrance fee and in recompense hand the visitor a booklet, containing a speech by Himmler. (XVII/192, Doc. NO-547.)
The German people must look beyond the absurd body-jerking, infantile, goose-stepping of the SS and the even more absurd
• Page 1078
speeches of their leaders; and read some of the orders issued in all seriousness by this fantastic organization. One order to the SS guards in concentration camps proclaimed: "An SS man must be a leading example to the prisoners if the prisoners are to respect an SS guard. An SS guard must show pride and dignity and demonstrate through his example to the Communists and plutocrats that he is the bearer of the Third Reich." And then, so that no Communist or plutocrat might lose his awe for the SS man, the latter is particularly instructed not to avoid "falling rain by taking cover under trees or protruding wall pieces." (!!) (IV/39, Doc. 1216-PS.)
That was the Nordic-blooded, dashing, and elite SS.
CONCENTRATION CAMPS — ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
Goering is credited with originating and establishing in 1933 the first concentration camp in Germany, the object of which was to concentrate within its restricting barbed wire, machine guns and the circle of influence of ferocious dogs, and occasionally even more ferocious guards, all the political enemies of the State. Not only those who had opposed the Nazi Government which had just seized power, but all those who might oppose it, were isolated and restrained. It was enough to be accused of anti-Nazi activities if the subject talked against or even expressed a doubt about the policies of the government, if he listened to a foreign broadcast or expressed a defeatist attitude. It was enough to be committed to a concentration camp if a member of the German police, the Gestapo, or any one of a number of so-called security organizations suspected one of anti-Nazi behavior. Nor was there a judicial hearing of any kind. And once within the concentration camp the victim had no assurance when, if ever, he would be released. If a time limit was specified, it was seldom adhered to. The doomed prisoner remained until he was released by the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) or was liberated at the end of the war by the Allied armies, if he had not died in the meantime.
Generally the population of a concentration camp was made up of three categories: (1) political enemies of the State, such as Communists; (2) criminals so adjudicated by the criminal code; (3) anti-socials.
The third classification was the most numerous. One became an anti-social very easily in the Nazi State. The good substantial citizen who discharged his National Socialist butler or the reliable, sober working man who changed his employment without the permission of the National Social Labor Exchange, found himself
• Page 1079
pronounced anti-social and soon inside a concentration camp wearing an insigne dedicated to that category of crime. (Tr. p. 755.)
Each inmate wore on the left breast of his striped prison suit a colored triangle, surmounted by his serial number, which from that moment became his name. Political prisoners were identified by a red triangle; criminal prisoners by a green triangle; immigrants, a blue triangle; Jews, a red and yellow triangle, superimposed to form a David's Star; asocial elements were distinguished by a black triangle; recidivists by a red triangle, and a red bar for each repetitive offense. Many prisoners also carried a bull's eye painted over the heart and back, this serving as a target for the SS guards. A punishment disk (red and white circle) marked prisoners inducted into a penal company for punishment. (VI/110, Doc. NO-2122.)
At the outbreak of the war, 1 September 1939, there were six large concentration camps in Germany, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Flossenbuerg, and Ravensbrueck. (II/66, Doc. R-129.)
Between 1940 and 1942 nine more camps were erected, Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Gusen, Natzweiler, Gross-Rosen, Lublin, Niederhagen, Stutthof, and Arbeitsdorf. (II/66, Doc. R-129.)
On 30 April, 1942, Pohl reported to Himmler that the war had brought about a marked change in concentration camp policy. Whereas originally the inmate was incarcerated for the sole purpose of State security, his incarceration would now serve another purpose: He would be put to work.
"The mobilization of all prisoners who are fit for work, for purposes of the war now, and for purposes of construction in the forthcoming peace, come to the foreground more and more. From this knowledge some necessary measures result with the aim to transform the concentration camps into organizations more suitable for the economic task, while they were formerly merely politically interested." (II/67, Doc. R-129.)
This was held by Pohl as a great step forward, and he ended his letter to Himmler on the jubilant note of —
"The collaboration of all authority goes on without any friction, the abolishment of lack of coordination in the concentration camps is hailed everywhere as the shedding of the fetters hindering progress." (II/67, Doc. R-129.)
Around each concentration camp mushroomed work camps to accommodate the inmate workers, every month being employed on a vaster scale. On 5 April 1944, Pohl reported: "There exists at present:
"In Reich territory 13 concentration camps
"In Government General 3 concentration camps
• Page 1080
"In Eastern territories (Ostland) 3 concentration camps
"In the Netherlands 1 concentration camps
TOTAL 20 concentration camps
"In addition the following work camps are maintained (IV/16, Doc.
"In Reich territory 130 work camps
"In Government General 3 work camps
"In the Eastern territories (Ostland) 30 work camps
"In the Netherlands 2 work camps
TOTAL 165 work camps"
Then with evident pride Pohl adds in his own handwriting: "During Eicke's time there were altogether 6 camps! NOW: 185!" (IV/16, Doc. NO-020.) Before the Nazi Government reached the stage of absolute indifference to world opinion, an attempt was made to camouflage the true purpose of concentration camps. Thus, one of the captured Reich documents carries this interesting revelation:
"According to information received from the chief of the Security Police and the SD, the term: Civilian Internment Camp Bergen-Belsen' must be replaced, for tactical reasons by the term: ‘Staging Camp Bergen-Belsen’.
This change is necessary because, according to the Geneva Convention, civil internment camps must be open to inspection by International Commissions." (IV/52, Doc. NO-1291.)
Some idea of the rapid expansion of concentration camps can be gained from the fact that whereas in 1939 Buchenwald held 5,300 prisoners, and in 1942, 9,000, it had swelled by the end of the war to a population of 20,000, including 1,000 boys under 14 years of age. Of course, with the adoption of the work policy in concentration camps, inmates were no longer limited to Germans or even foreigners who by the remotest reasoning had been hostile to the Nazi State. The Reich Government had now embarked on a slave labor policy whose tentacles reached out to draw into its workshops the nationals of every nation it had overrun. Thus, the nationalities represented in Buchenwald in April 1945 were listed as follows (VI/68, Doc. L-159)
• Page 1081
Anti-Franco Spanish and miscellaneous 1,207
Russians were always a prolific importation and they came in such numbers that on 1 August 1942, the chief of department [division] D, WVHA, notified the commanders of all concentration camps:
"In order to save paper and labor, I, therefore, direct that neither the arrival of such a prisoner, nor his transfer into another camp is to be individually reported; moreover, no camp index cards are to be made out and sent to the Reich Security Main Office IV C 2. Reports to this Office are not to be made either." (IV/8-V/50, Doc. NO-1017.)
In their general indifference to international law it was not to be expected that the Reich hierarchy would be concerned about the Geneva and Hague Conventions. In defiance of these conventions, prisoners of war were not only imprisoned in concentration camps, but were made to work in armament factories. Even officer prisoners of war were required to work. On 6 August 1944, we find Himmler demanding:
"Find out what the Polish officers still in the prisoner of war camps are doing. Have they been assigned to work, or not? If not, I suggest they be transferred to the concentration camp immediately and be assigned to work as prisoners." (XIII/89 , Doc. NO-071.)
At Dachau, 2 May 1945, 48 hours after the camp's liberation by the American forces, a United States investigating Congressional Committee found a population of 30,000 political prisoners living in barracks or sheds, none large enough for the hygienic accommodation of its occupants. A description of the outer aspects of the camp gives a general picture of most concentration camps:
"Two high, parallel barbed-wire fences surrounded the camp, the inner one 15 feet from the outside one, which was electrically charged. At intervals of about 50 yards, 20-foot towers rose above the outer wire, and from these towers armed guards looked down on the interior of the camp. At one end of the large enclosure was an open space for assembling the prisoners, and at the extreme end was a large administration building. An inspection of one of the better barracks for men disclosed 390
• Page 1082
jammed into a room built to accommodate 50. Most were suffering from typhus or tuberculosis, and all were living skeletons due to lack of food. Outside, lying in rows, were about 300 bodies of those who had died and had been collected that morning from the various barracks." (VI/76, 77, Doc. L-159.) On 14 April 1945, Himmler had ordered that these prisoners (30,000) were to be liquidated in the event the Allies arrived. Three hours before the bloody, mass extermination was to go into effect, the American forces liberated Dachau. (IV/120, Doc. 1943-PS.)
An investigation conducted by a war crimes team of the U. S. Ninth Army at Nordhausen, reported that between 75,000 and 80,000 forced laborers were imprisoned here. At the time of the liberation conditions in this camp were indescribably appalling. The dead bodies "were emaciated, and bony prominences of the skeletons were conspicuous under the skin. A pile of bodies, the result of one-day's deaths, was found under the steps." The mental condition of the prisoners had degenerated with their physical condition. Both living and dead were found in the same beds. Some effort had been made to burn the bodies; and partially burned, blackened bodies of 100 children lay about the premises. No organized effort was made to bury the dead. (XI/74, Doc. 2222-PS.)
Auschwitz, the largest of the concentration camps, contained at its peak a population of 125,000 and because of its size was, 5 May 1944, divided into three camps.
Eugen Kogon, a highly intelligent person who served many years as a concentration camp inmate, and from his experiences and study, wrote a book entitled, "The SS State", testified at length before us. He calculated that the average current population of inmates in all camps during the years of the war ranged between 600,000 and 1,000,000, and that in all, 8,000,000 people went through the concentration camps. Approximately half a million of these were Germans, the rest foreigners.
The supreme authority in every concentration camp was the camp commandant. He allocated the labor, prescribed the hours of work, the food and rest, established living conditions, and imposed all disciplinary regulations. He ruled with a rod of iron. His authority was absolute. Under the camp commandant came the camp adjutant who exercised a double function. He was subordinate to the Higher Police and SS Leaders in the district in which the concentration camp was located, and he also represented the traditional authority of the Higher Police Officers on behalf of the SS. Then came the camp leaders, SS officers charged with the protective custody of the inmates. Below the camp leaders,
• Page 1083
ranked report leaders who regulated the relations between inmates and the camp leader and camp commandant. Still further down the scale appeared the SS block leaders, each one supervising from 150 to 800 inmates, depending on the size of the block. Then there were the SS guards who manned the towers and machine guns, and guarded the prisoners at their work.
Each concentration camp had a central administration with a so-called political department which was under the camp commandant and had direct communication with the Gestapo and the Reich Security Main Office.
Since the SS did not bother itself to carry out all the practical work in the camps, a so-called self administration on the part of the prisoners was allowed. This self administration was invariably led by a well tested criminal, selected by the SS for his ability and personal power to carry out the orders of the SS, and to oppose his own comrades in the camp.
The term, "concentration camp," was brought home to America directly in a report made by SHAEF on the alleged murder of American and British prisoners of war in Sachsenhausen. According to the testimony of a German civilian inmate of the camp, between 60 and 80 American and British pilots, after having been questioned in the Gestapo headquarters at Berlin, were taken to Sachsenhausen and there, in May 1943, killed by machine gun fire. The clothing of the Allied soldiers was distributed among the internees, the witness claiming to have received himself an American combat jacket. This witness, Willi Feiler, also declared under oath before the American court of inquiry that at Sachsenhausen 18,000 Russian prisoners of war were thrust into barracks intended for only 1,600, that no food was served them, and that through shooting and starvation, the whole group had perished in 7 days. When 8,000 more Russian prisoners of war arrived, they were thrown into an enclosure under the muzzles of machine guns and held there without food or water. The witness described in the most harrowing language watching these prisoners starve. He said: "Human beings were crawling around like worms. I saw with my own eyes that the living ones had started to eat the dead ones." (V/28, Doc. NO-1932.)
TREATMENT OF CONCENTRATION CAMP INMATES
In the grillwork of the iron gates at the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp, large metal letters proclaimed, "WORK REDEEMS."
Dr. Eugen Kogon, however, who spent 4½ years in this camp, declared that as he observed the type of redemption
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23712
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
• Page 1084
to which workers in this camp were doomed, he saw that pronouncement change into the inscription:
Per me si va nella citta dolente,
Per me si va nell'eterno dolore,
Per me si va alla perduta gente.
Lasciate ogni Speranza voi chè entrate!
(Through me you enter the City of those elected for grief, Through me you enter to eternal pain, Through me you enter to the people of the lost. All hope abandon ye who enter here!)
Asked to describe a typical arrival at a typical concentration camp, Dr. Kogon testified that while generally the reception accorded a new arrival exceeded in distress what he had anticipated, the reception did not necessarily need to be a cruel one. It would happen, for instance, in 1942 if you were a German or member of a nation not particularly hated by the Nazis, that when you arrived you were well treated. You were not even beaten." (Tr. p. 766.) Not being physically manhandled was regarded as a special consideration. If, however, you were a French (we won't mention if you were a Jew), you were treated in a manner, "which cannot be imagined or described." High civil service men, to the tune of 150, came from Compiègne to Buchenwald, "and 35 corpses fell out." (Tr. p. 766.)
Political prisoners, and particularly Jews, were to be humiliated personally, and their will broken. They were compelled to stand in the sun for hours with their arms behind their heads. They had to squat or sit on their knees. Jews, in all cases, were given a beating with a stick five times or more. They were mistreated because they were Jews. (Tr. v. 767.)
Camp rules were read to the arrivals, and as the SS leader droned out the Draconian regulations, they constantly heard: "This will be punished by death; that will be punished by death." The rules were never written out. If an inmate asked just what he was permitted to do, the SS man accosted, invariably replied: "You can always commit suicide. You can hang yourself. You can run into a barbed wire."
The prisoners' hair was shorn, their personal property taken, and then they were driven across the camp square naked. They were now supplied with concentration camp uniforms — trousers, a thin jacket in zebra colors, and wooden shoes without leather. These wooden shoes were not only a torment to the feet, especially when the inmate was compelled to run on the double, but they precipitated even nervous disorders.
While the less mentally agile suffered their own punishment
• Page 1085
in that they were unable by exercise of wit to escape tortures the more resourceful could avoid, still no greater misfortune could befall an inmate than to be recognized, or to be suspected of being, an intellectual. All those who wore spectacles were subjected to a hazard all their own. Goebbels had declared that "these intellectual beasts are dangerous." "Thus these intellectuals;" Kogon pointed out, "or those who looked like intellectuals, were allocated to labor detachments where they perished quickly." (Tr. p. 769.)
The day's routine began (in the summer) at 4 in the morning, in the winter at 6 o'clock. En masse the inmates marched to the parade ground of the camp where the roll call (always by numbers and not by names) was called. A report was also made of those who had died during the night. Then some of the prisoners we called to the gate, not knowing what to expect. The quaking inmate might be required to stand there until night, receive a letter, be called to the political department to undergo a long intense examination, or he might be called to the camp commandant and within 5 minutes be hanged. One inmate was compelled to stand at the gate all Christmas day, and then that night he was informed of a telegraphic message which announced his father's death. (Tr. p. 783.)
Following the morning roll call the work details were announced, with an intense struggle ensuing on the part of the inmates to obtain the tools for the particular job to which assigned. This enthusiasm for tools arose not out of the desire to work, but because "anyone who appeared during working hours without tools was either beaten to death by the SS Kommandofuehrer [detachment leader], or his number written down and a report turned in for a subsequent punishment. (Tr. p. 773.) In columns of five the inmates now marched to the place of employment which might be a stone quarry, clay pit, ammunition factory, or construction job anywhere from 1 to 20 kilometers away. When the day's work was done, which did not exclude indiscriminate floggings, each inmate was obliged to pick up bricks or a stone, at least 10 pounds heavy, to carry to the camp for no useful purpose:
"During my whole life I did not know that it was possible to walk during a snow storm and in the condition that we were, without gloves and to carry five bricks on the left shoulder after such a long working day for a distance of a kilometer and a half. I could not believe it. If we had any wounded among us, or any dead ones, then we had to carry them with our working commando into the camp." (Tr. p. 775.)
Back at camp the inmates dropped their stones and assembled
• Page 1086
for roll call again, and then the punishments were carried out.
Sometimes collective punishment, every tenth person, was inflicted. The floggings usually consisted of between 5 and 25 whippings. The victim was required to count the strokes with the whipping SS Scharfuehrer. If a mistake was made, the whipping then started all over again from the very beginning. (Tr. p. 779.)
The rules required that every punishment be approved by Berlin, but it was the practice "to beat the inmate first and then send the request to Berlin. When the punishment came back okayed, which it invariably was, the punishment was inflicted all over again." The rules also provided that camp physicians had first to examine the inmate to establish if he could stand the whippings, witness Kogon testified:
"From my long experience in the concentration camp I only know of one case where the camp physician, during such a discussion, raised an objection and the punishment was interrupted." (Tr. p. 779.)
An inmate could be punished for almost any reason. Perhaps he had looked at an SS leader in an "unruly manner." Or perhaps he had, in order to protect himself from the rain, placed a paper bag under his clothing. This would constitute sabotage. It might be that the SS Leader considered that the stone carried by the inmate was not clean enough, or that the inmate might have picked up a fragment of a cigarette stub dropped by the SS guard. An inmate could be flogged because he gave an incorrect answer to an inquiry. He could be called to the gate, and then asked why he was standing there. He could not answer because he did not know the answer. Or he could be beaten because he answered in a fresh manner, for instance, "I don't know why I am standing here."
The punishments were by no means restricted to floggings. Russians, who took a piece of wire to tie their wooden shoes together so as not to lose them, were charged with sabotage and hanged. (Tr. p. 953.) If someone tried to escape he was hanged in the presence of all inmates. Then there were specialized tortures. An inmate could be fed salt herring without water until he went crazy, or he could be hanged head down.
"People were hanged to trees so that their toes could not touch the ground; people were hanged to wooden logs; people were killed, hanged, choked, shot to death." (Tr. p. 784.) Concentration camp commandants were authorized to hang immediately all prisoners who refused to work. In the event of an air raid, prisoners who did not return within 12 hours after the all-clear signal were to be hanged. (III/111, Doc. NO-2327.)
Evidently realizing that the normal human being thinks well
• Page 1087
of his fellowman and would rather discount stories of inhumanities which go beyond the pale, witness Kogon exclaimed in Court: "These things are not things I am imagining at the present moment, they actually happened to comrades of mine in the concentration camp at Buchenwald." (Tr. p. 784.)
This business of punishment was not a matter of spontaneous ire with quick irresponsible chastisement. There were regularly printed forms indicating the type of punishment, the blows to be administered, etc.
A court of inquiry, acting for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces made an investigation at the Dora camp near Nordhausen shortly after its liberation by the Allied forces. One inmate on April 13, 1945, related a particularly horrible incident:
"I mention an example of greatest bestiality: A woman in the last stages of pregnancy was thrown down by an SS man who then stepped on her with his boots until birth was forced. In blood and pain the woman died wretchedly. Similar scenes were frequently repeated. This small report is just a tiny part of what Hitler's Germany has done." (VI/92, Doc. 2222-PS.) Kasimierz Czyszewski, an inmate at Buchenwald concentration camp described treatment of prisoners:
"At the commands (Kommandos) [working places] of the labor offices the prisoners were whipped by the SS, with the assistance of various Kapos (prisoners used as barracks policemen). Then a board was laid over the neck of the fallen prisoners. Two of the prisoners stood on it in see-saw fashion and throttled the prisoners. When the commandos (Kommandos) [detachments] entered camp, roll call was taken of the dead who had been murdered there up to a hundred each day." (XVIII/178, Doc. 2223-PS.) Life was very cheap in a concentration camp. Waldemar Hover, assistant medical officer at Buchenwald, in relating conditions at that camp, told of the jealousy on the part of some prisoners against other prisoners holding key positions. The former envied the leaders and made every effort to discredit them. This was considered a traitorous action and the person performing it a "traitor." In a very casual fashion, Dr. Hoven stated that 150 of these traitors were killed:
"The total number of traitors killed was about 150, of whom 60 were killed by phenol injections, either by myself or under my supervision in the camp hospital, and the rest were killed by various means, such as beatings, by the inmates." (X/126, Doc. NO-429.)
Paul Bennart, who served at Dora and Buchenwald, interviewed
• Page 1088
by an officer of U.S. First Army, answered as follows on treatment in a concentration camp:
"Q. Did you see any shootings or hangings at Sachsenhausen ?
"A. Yes. I saw Hauptscharfuehrer Gustaf Sorge shoot a Russian because the Russian would not stand at attention. Gustaf Sorge lives at Oranienburg, near Berlin.
"Q. Did you see any shootings or hangings at Dora during the time you were there?
"A. Yes. I saw groups of two and three men which would total approximately sixty, hanged for alleged sabotage. All of the prisoners and workers were compelled to watch these hangings, which occurred in April and May 1944. The hangings were usually held on Sunday during roll call. These people were mostly Poles, Russians, and Czechs, whose names I do not know. I do recall a German prisoner named Schrader being hanged for having stolen some alcohol.
"Q. Who usually conducted the hangings?
"A. Most often they were ordered by Hauptscharfuehrer Brumm and in many cases the prisoners were compelled to hang other prisoners under penalty of execution for their failure to cooperate. There was an order issued by Sturmbannfuehrer Forschner that prisoners who refused to assist in the execution of other prisoners would themselves be executed." (XI/84. Doc. 2222-PS.)
At times, when an inmate's death was decided upon, the camp commandant would inform him that on the following day he was to try to escape. In the camp office, the man's death already had been recorded "killed while attempting escape." The Austrian Consul General, Dr. Stiedler, was informed one day of the fate which awaited him the following day. Dr. Stiedler pleaded that he could not do this since he was a faithful Catholic, and condemned suicide. Nonetheless, the next day, while approaching a chain of guards, he was shot down. (Tr. p. 937.)
The witness, Josef Ackermann, who related the above incident, was an inmate first in Dachau, then in Buchenwald, and then in Nordhausen. At Buchenwald he served as physician's clerk in the pathological section, and was required to keep records of autopsies. The chief of the medical department in department [division] D, WVHA, Dr. Lolling, frequently wrote the director of the pathological section at Buchenwald: "I need immediately 10 entire skeletons, 12 skulls, or individual parts of the body, or we need some interesting bullet wounds." One day the camp physician, pointing to an inmate passing by, said to the witness:
• Page 1089
"Dr. Ackerman, I would like to have this skull on my desk tomorrow."
And then, according to the witness:
"The very same evening, the prisoner was ordered to report to the hospital and on the next day he was on my autopsy table and the skull was taken apart, and it was turned over to Dr. Hoven." (Tr. p. 940.)
One specialty of the pathological section of the Buchenwald concentration camp was to remove the skin of prisoners and tan it:
"Production was carried out by two ways, either it was put into a transparent form, or it was tanned so that the skin became tough, like leather." (Tr. p. 940.)
The inmate who carried tattooed pictures on his body walked a precarious path. He was immediately catalogued and his skin marked for the collection (after his death) of tattooes kept in the special museum in Berlin. Hunchbacks or other persons with a body structure of medical interest excited the anatomical and macabre avarice of half-crazed doctors who were not averse to killing to obtain the skeletons to incorporate into the collections of the SS doctors, or the display in the SS Medical Academy at Graz. (V/178, Doc. 499-PS.)
Delving into the medieval past for ideas on torture and brutalities, devising schemes of their own for unique, sadistic practices on the body and soul of their fellowmen, the degenerate and power-crazed SS men, ever seeking some new, bizarre bestiality for their criminally warped imaginations, went to the jungle tribes of Africa for anatomical grotesquenesses not theretofore known in Europe. As Indians scalped their deceased foes, certain African tribes bore away the decapitated heads of their falled enemies, and by a certain process reduced them to the size of a doll's head. A returned traveller from Africa was taken into the pathological section to instruct the SS staff in the mysteries of skull shrinking, and the revolting hideous thing was done. Various heads were shrunk, and, according to the witness, the SS men liked to have these things on their writing desks in order to consider themselves important. (Tr. P. 943.)
To what incredible nadir had human decency descended in SS Germany?
Death in a concentration camp at Buchenwald had reached such a degree of casualness that camp physicians demanded to know why reports were being made on the death of political Russians. "Time and paper (!) could be saved if these reports were dropped." (IV/56, Doc. NO-2148.)
Dr. Francis Mis, a Yugoslav who had studied at the Harvard College in America, was an inmate at Dachau at the time of its
• Page 1090
liberation by the American Forces. On 4 May 1945, he was questioned at length on conditions in the camp prior to its emancipation. He stated that upon arrival in the camp (4 September 1941) he was taken to the quarantine barrack where five slept in each bed and where lice and vermin were rife. Put to work as a physician he found prisoners suffering from dysentery, which he attributed to bad and insufficient food. As a result of the malnutrition about 3,000 inmates died between September 1944 and April 1945. Ten thousand more died from spotted fever and 1,000 died from tuberculosis. (V/135-140, Doc. 2428-PS.)
At Buchenwald the ration allowance amounted to between 600 and 700 calories per day and consisted generally of a weak soup made from cabbage and other vegetables and a small piece of bread, 3 inches square. This meal was distributed once a day in the morning, and in the evening another small piece of bread was distributed. The diet was very deficient in animal fats and vitamins, and contained no meat. The U.S. Congressional Committee, examining this camp on 24 April 1945 reported:
"Available records at the time of liberation had been examined by the prisoners engaged in the administration of the camp, and the record revealed that 51,000 persons had died in the camp. At the time of our arrival the prisoners, in a pathetic gesture, had erected, of flimsy materials, a memorial to the dead of Buchenwald. Pictures and descriptions of the conditions at this camp cannot adequately portray what we saw there, and it is only when the stench of the camp is smelled that anyone can have complete appreciation of the depths of degradation to which the German Nazi Government and those responsible for it and its agencies, organizations, and practices had dropped in their treatment of those who had failed to embrace the doctrines of the ‘master race’." (VI/74-75, Doc. L-159.)
One witness testified that at the Mauthausen concentration camp dead inmates were not reported dead but their bodies were dragged to the roll call and in this way the living inmates could draw the food for the dead people. (Tr. p. 420.)
In August 1943 the construction of a V-bomb factory was undertaken in tunnels at the foothills of the Harz mountains about 2 miles north of Nordhausen. Here, water for drinking and washing was found only where laborers could locate a leak in the pipes. The prisoners slept where they worked. Many died from respiratory diseases contracted in the damp tunnels, and others died of heart ailments due to underground pressure. (XI/73-75, Doc. 2222-PS.)
• Page 1091
Any attempt on the part of an inmate to obtain food for himself could lead to disastrous consequences. At Flossenbuerg, prisoners who had stolen a frozen potato or a cabbage leaf were consigned to a so-called water hole where, with a heavy stone on their backs, they were made to run around in almost 30 centimeters of mud, where they either collapsed or voluntarily broke through the sentry lines. In any case the water hole was the equal of death. (VI/113, Doc. NO-2122.) At Ebensee the peelings required to feed 500 SS guards made up the midday meal for 15,000 prisoners. With these peelings the inmates received 100 grams of bread daily. (XI/40, Doc. NO-1949.)
At the Boelcke Kaserne at Nordhausen 1,500 grams of bread were allowed to eight men daily, and each received 1/2 liter of watery soup. Because of this starvation diet the prisoners called Nordhausen the "Living Cemetery." (XI/88, Doc. 2222-PS.)
The Austrian Minister of Justice, Dr. von Winterstein, unable to stand the degradation to which he was being subjected in the Buchenwald concentration camp, was one of those who willingly walked into the chain of guards and was shot under the guise of an attempted escape. (Tr. p. 784.)
At Niedersachsen, the inmates were awakened at 4 o'clock in the morning and got a cup of coffee. They worked in the quarries all day, returned to camp at 9 or 10 o'clock, when they received 1/2 liter of watery soup and sometimes two or three bad potatoes. By the time the inmate got to his bed on a bundle of straw it was midnight, thus having spent 20 hours on his feet with only 4 hours of sleep. From 2 February to 4 April, 1945, 3,500 inmates perished from hunger. (XI/76, Doc. 2222-PS.)
Almost nonexistent medical care, added to the lack of food, contributed heavily to the death rate. In the Neuengamme concentration camp there were from 3,000 to 4,000 sick inmates, and only one doctor with scarcely any medicine at all. (V/132, Doc. NO-1201.)
And in no camp did the prisoners have sufficient clothing in the wintertime to keep them warm. At Neuengamme a request was made for clothing for 15,000 prisoners, but only enough for 2,000 was supplied. Hundreds of prisoners suffered severely from frost boils and frozen feet. Office D III, WVHA, very frankly declared that it was impossible to clothe completely the 524,000 prisoners in the camps especially with 612,000 more on the way. Max Pauly, commandant of the Neuengamme concentration camp, declared that he had only enough garments to clothe completely 25 percent of the prisoners in his camp. And, as if in complete solution of this problem, Pohl declared by order on 7 September 1944:
• Page 1092
"Subject: Supply of clothing for inmates of concentration camps."
"* * * We shall not tolerate the fact that only complaints about the bad quality of the clothing are made and perhaps the inmate in question is even pitied because the poor fellow no longer had any shoes, instead of teaching him how to treat his clothes by giving him regularly a sound thrashing if necessary * * *."
PUNISHMENT AND DEATH IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS
We have seen how occasionally new arrivals were not even beaten upon entering a concentration camp. This omission was not always looked upon with approval. An SS Inspector of Security Police declared in a statement in Berlin on 16 June 1943, that "the punishment of thrashing upon arrival proved very successful." (IV/88, Doc. NO-1073.)
An officer in the Dutch Marines describing his introduction to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen said:
"Once delivered into the concentration camp Sachsenhausen we were forced to obey the command ‘hinlegen,’ which means to lie down flat on the ground. Some of us who did not lie down fast enough according to SS Oberscharfuehrer Schubert, were kicked by him in the region of the kidneys and on the head." (XI/35, Doc. NO-1949.)
When this prisoner was asked his profession and he replied "officer," he was slapped twice in the face and ordered to make 250 deep knee bendings. When a prisoner of war asked for water he was answered with a kick in the face. (XI/35, Doc. NO-191,9.) One inmate, who inexplicably found something to smile about while standing in ranks, completely changed his mind about levity in a concentration camp when a Hauptscharfuehrer struck him with such violence as to knock out two teeth and fracture his nose bone. (XI/36, Doc. NO-1949.)
A prisoner's failure to tip his hat to an SS man was sufficient justification for his being beaten. (XI/75, Doc. 2222-PS.)
However, beatings, floggings, and torture, no matter to what degree inflicted, were not the utmost limit of a concentration camp inmate's fate. He ever walked the brink of death over which he could topple for reasons less than reason. A court of inquiry, on behalf of the Supreme Headquarters AEF [SHAEF], found at Dora that SS guards shot laborers upon the slightest pretext.
• Page 1093
"six prisoners were shot one day because they had left their place of work to go to the water closet." Executions were often performed without trial over the shallow guise of the condemned man's having been a saboteur. On 13 March 1945, 13 inmates, one a Yugoslav doctor accused of administering medical assistance to prisoners, were hanged. (X/75, Doc. 2222-PS.)
The camp commandant of Neuengamme, commenting, after the war, on 250 prisoners executed during his incumbency, said: "Frankly, I do not know the reason for their execution." (V/133, Doc. NO-1201.)
At Mauthausen the most usual way of accounting for murdered prisoners was to declare them shot while escaping. In point of fact it was impossible for a prisoner to escape. The doomed prisoners were simply driven to the chain of the military post where they were shot down by the guards. It was an unwritten law that anyone shot while trying to escape had to die that same day. Thus inmates who had received only a scratch of a wound and would have been able to carry on were killed by an injection although the report would indicate that he had died from gunshot wound: . (Tr. p. 958.) In June 1941, Himmler visited Mauthausen and upon arrival found an inmate who that day had been shot while in an escape attempt. The man's wound was obviously mortal, Himmler ordered: "I want this man to be dead by this evening." (X/42, Doc. NO-2333.)
Political prisoners who were particularly hated were made to carry stones of such a size and for such a distance that they collapsed. The prisoner being at the end of his strength was then beaten up to the chain of military posts where, under the pretense of firing at escaping prisoners, the sentries liquidated him. Occasionally a tree trunk was placed beyond the chain of military posts and prisoners were ordered to fetch it. They were then shot by the guards without any challenge. Occasionally the prisoner's cap was thrown into the chain of military posts and when he went to fetch it he was immediately shot by the guards. The camp was enclosed by an electrically charged fence. Prisoners were forced into this fence on which they remained for hours on end until completely charred or delivered by bullets. (V/178/179, Doc. 499-PS.)
Many prisoners hanged themselves to end their torture. (V/179, Doc. 499-PS.)
It often happened, however, that prisoners were killed by blows and then hanged to give the appearance of suicide. (17/179, Doc. 499-PS.)
"Prisoners who became unpopular or who were sent to Mauthausen to be eliminated, were paraded at night on the
• Page 1094
parade ground, and the dogs of the chief of the concentration camp were let loose on them until the prisoners were literally torn to pieces." (V/180, Doc. 499-PS.)
In the wintertime some of the newly arrived prisoners were placed under a hot shower, then chased out to the parade grounds where they were required to carry out exercises in temperature of 20 to 30 degrees below zero, while being flogged, whipped, and kicked often with fatal results. (V/180, Doc. 499-PS.)
At the Gross-Rosen concentration camp a fund of 500 marks was set up for the person conducting the executions. The official order announcing this distribution ends with the statement that the award is "to be given only once, about which nothing must be said." (VI/10, Doc. NO-1991.)
At Buchenwald every evening the inmates were required to report for roll call, bringing with them the naked bodies of all comrades who had died during the previous 24 hours. At the "Little Camp" where prisoners slept 16 to a shelf, an infraction of discipline — particularly an attempt to escape — not infrequently resulted in all 16 being condemned to death. These prisoners were marched through a door into an open shaft where they crashed 13 feet down to the cement floor. As they hit the floor "they were garroted with a short double end noose by SS guards, and hung on hooks." Those who were still struggling were struck by a wooden mallet. The bodies were then taken to the incinerator room. For a period of 10 days in March 1945 the coal supply for the incinerator was exhausted. Awaiting the arrival of a new supply of coal bodies to the number of 1,800 were allowed to collect in the front yard, stacked up like cord wood. When the Congressional Committee visited this camp immediately after the liberation they found a truck load of these bodies within the area of the incinerator. (VI/73, Doc. L-159.)
An American surgeon who entered with the liberating troops stated that the adult corpses weighed from about 60 to 80 pounds. (VI/74, Doc. L-159.)
Philipp Grimm, an SS man who had worked with the labor allocation office and in other capacities at various concentration camps stated that the numher of deaths, as evident in the labor statistics in office D II, WVHA, amounted, according to his estimate, to 10 percent per month. In the defense plants the percentage was perhaps higher. (XI/213, Doc. NO-2126.)
Helmut Bickel, a German citizen who was an inmate at the Nordhausen concentration camp for 4½ years was called by the defense as a witness in behalf of defendant Mummenthey. This witness testified that 38,000 inmates died in Nordhausen in a period of 5 years.
Commenting generally on concentration camps
• Page 1095
he said that when plans for a new camp were being drawn up, the first item to be considered was not the kitchen nor the laundry, nor the workshops, but the crematory, the burial ground for the dead, and the punitive detachments. (Tr. pp. 5394,-5472.) In one year, out of 10,000 population, 8,000 died, a death rate of 80 percent.
Wincenty Hein, a Polish lawyer and judge who had already served in camp Dora, estimated that at Dora and the surrounding 31 labor camps during the period of their existence, between 75,000 and 80,000 inmates perished. (VI/90, Doc. 2222-PS.)
At Dachau there was not a single day when the air was not filled with the sickly odor of burning human bodies. (VI/107, Doc. NO-2122.) The ex-inmate who made this statement was told of a certain Knoll, probably unbalanced, who was promised by the camp commander a snack (a piece of bread and piece of sausage) when he had completed the killing of 100 prisoners. On one occasion when Knoll asked for his snack, he was told he had not met his quota:
"Knoll replied that he had 97 and that he would finish off the remaining three quickly before noon. At noon we saw him enter the ‘Jourhaus’ (office building) and also saw him emerge again carrying the snack." (VI/107, Doc. NO-2122.) Lt. Jean Veith of the French Army described an ingenious device set up at Mauthausen for the liquidation of French prisoners. Upon arrival they were unclothed and taken to a bathroom. Here they were required to stand against a measuring apparatus which recorded their height. As each prisoner backed toward the metrical measure an automatic contraption released a bullet is his neck as soon as the determining rod measuring his height touched the top of his head (Tr. p. 116.) This same French officer told of a Pole, who, obviously deranged, approached an electrically charged fence. Veith pulled the man away, whereupon he was reproached by a SS Unterscharfuehrer who said that he wished to use this man as a target for firing with his automatic rifle. This SS Leader had already killed 50 prisoners in this manner. Prisoners not considered "worthy" to stay in the camp were shot in the neck while standing before their graves into which their inanimate bodies fell after the execution. (XI/38, Doc. NO-372.)
Dr. Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen, a former American citizen, who had received various scholastic distinctions at American University, was arrested in 1941 by the Gestapo and eventually landed at Dora where he was used as a camp doctor. He saw 1,200 French officers sent to the Dora weapons factory to work. Of these 1,200, after 6 or 7 weeks, only 19 returned alive. Prisoners were compelled to work 14 hours a day and then beaten so that they could not rest.
• Page 1096
"This was the method employed to kill off the French military intelligentsia." (XI/62, Doc. NO-2326.)
Where sabotage was suspected, the SS men had authority to kill "any halting civilian prisoner just like knocking the ashes from your cigarette." (XI/86, Doc. 2222-PS.)
We have quoted from Witness Kogon's description of atypical arrival in a concentration camp. A Polish architect, who served in the Auschwitz concentration camp, described his arrival to Lt. Col. Givens of the U. S. Army on April 22, 1945:
"Thousands waited naked in winter, in the ice and snow for frequent bathing in the mass pool which resulted in grippe, tuberculosis, and consequent death. Lice and vermin brought typhus, causing the death of thousands. In the 2-3 blocks up to a thousand prisoners were ill with typhus, and the camp doctor (an SS man whose name I don't recall) ordered whole blocks to be taken by truck to the crematory at Birkenau * * *. On the black wall of death in block 11 in Auschwitz thousands (according to my reckoning up to 50,000 prisoners) were killed by shots in the nape of the neck. They were mostly officers and the intelligentsia from all walks of life. Early in the morning during the roll call for work the prisoners were called in, taken to the office, and from there to the air raid shelter in block 11. They were brought out naked and were murdered by being shot in the nape of the neck by Oberscharfuehrer Pulitsch, Unterscharfuehrer Lachmann, Civilian Wosnica of the Gestapo and Hauptsturmfuehrer Aumeier. The blood was flowing in the gutter like a downpour of rain. Women and children brought from outside the camp were sentenced here by the special court and were also murdered. I myself witnessed these scenes from the neighboring block in which I lived. A pregnant woman with a two year old child in her arms was among them." (XVIII/177, 178, Doc. 2223-PS.)
There are no statistics on the number of concentration camp inmates executed just before the camps were liberated but it is known that Himmler issued a written order that camps "threatened by the Allied troops should be placed under the jurisdiction of the local Higher SS and Police Leaders. The disposal of the inmates was to be left to their absolute discretion. This order was executed and never rescinded." (XXII/14.)
Although the original idea behind concentration camps was the immobilization of brains and hands which in some conceivable
• Page 1097
way might undermine the Nazi tenure of power, it was not long until Himmler saw in these millions of idle hands a reservoir of manual strength which could be put to use for profit — lucrative profit. The SS would go into business.
With hundreds of army divisions marching all over Europe, industrial manpower at home became a critical item, and here, like an oil well discovered in one's cellar, were these hundreds of thousands of men for whom Himmler was responsible to no one but his nonexistent conscience. Publicly he wept that he had not thought of this before. When he learned that hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners of war had died from exhaustion and hunger, his regret was not that they died but that it was deplorable by reason of "the loss of labor."
In a lecture prepared for SS men, the rhetorical question was asked, "Why does the SS engage in business?" The lecturer answered the question as follows:
"The era of liberal economic system demanded the precedent of economy, that is to say, first came economy and then the State. In contrast to that, National Socialism maintains this point of view:
The State gives orders to the economy. The State does not exist for the benefit of economy, but economy exists for the benefit of the State." (11/107, Doc. NO-1016.)
From the premise that economy exists for the State, it way a very short step to the proposition that all those subject to the State exist for the State. And if a man has no intrinsic right to exist within the State, it follows naturally that the State may use him as it sees fit. This proposition was very succinctly put forward in the lecture referred to.
"The Reich Leader SS in his capacity as chief of the German Police was confronted with the task of solving problems, which the Reich as such was not able to solve, viz to get hold of all antisocial elements, which no longer had a right to live within the National Socialist State, and to turn their working strength to the benefit of the whole nation. This was effected in the concentration camps. The Reich Leader SS, therefore, delegated SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl to set up concentration camp enterprises. In addition, he gave orders to establish companies on a private economy basis for the purpose of employng the prisoners." (II/107, Doc. NO-1016.)
And since the antisocialite lived only by sufferance of the State, it is easy to understand that the State had the right to employ him to the limit of his endurance, not even short of death. Instructions issued by the WVHA on 30 April 1942, over the signature Pohl, provided that the employment of concentration camp
• Page 1098
labor must be, "in the true meaning of the word ‘exhaustive’," and then, so that the inmate himself could feel the immediate absoluteness of his servility, full power to employ him was lodged in the concentration camp commander.
"The management of a concentration camp and of all the economic enterprises of the SS within its sphere of organization is in the hands of the camp commander. He alone is therefore responsible that the economic enterprises are as productive as possible." (II/68, Doc. R-129.)
The camp commander was authorized to establish working hours and working conditions, and so that he should not feel too restrained in this matter, the directive read:
"There is no limit to working hours. Their duration depends on the kind of working establishments in the camps and the kind of work to be done. They are fixed by the camp commanders alone." (II/68, Doc. R-129.)
With absolute dominion went every sense of restraint, even to the point where it brought diminishing returns to the master. Good business judgment would have dictated that, if not treated with exceeding care and comfort, the workers at least be supplied with a minimum of the bodily requirements so as to extract from them their best efforts in production. Even in the ancient days of slavery, the master was jealous of his slave's comfort and care because in him he had an investment. Of course, it may be that, because of the very fact the Nazi master had not expended a penny in the way of purchase, he subjected the slave worker to physical deprivations and, in addition, actual brutality. Always associated with the concept of work went the concept of extermination. These slaves were of inferior races: they were Poles, they were Slavs, they were Jews, they were in a word subhuman. Thus the inmates felt the whip, the lash, the spur of the mounted guard. The master profited regardless of results. If the slave produced, his hire enriched the coffers of the SS. If he succumbed and expired under the yoke of his labors, that made one less to corrupt the air to be breathed by the "master race." Thus from time to time the inmates were forced into tasks which brought only exhaustion, frustration, and despair. Heavy rocks were loaded on their backs to be by them transported to meaningless destinations, and there the human beasts of burden were ordered to take the loads back to the starting point. Brick and stone walls were erected, demolished the next day, and on the third day wearily constructed again.
In his Metz speech, Himmler said on this point:
"This activity is necessary, as I said, (1) to eliminate these negative people from the German people, (2) to exploit them
• Page 1099
once more for the great fold community by having them break stones and bake bricks so that the Fuehrer can again erect his grand buildings, and (3) to in turn invest the money, earned soberly this way, in houses, in ground, in settlements so that our men can have houses in which to raise large families and lots of children. This in turn is necessary because we stand or die with this leading blood of Germany and if the good blood is not reproduced we will not be able to rule the world." (Doc. 1918-PS.) With overwork, mistreatment and undernourishment, the concentration camp workers died off in such numbers that their replacement became a critical item. Rudolf Hoess, chief of office D I, stated that in the more dangerous and more exhaustive jobs, 20 percent of the workers perished each month as the result of overwork or extermination because of inability to work. The situation reached such an alarming stage that the chief of Security Police and SD complained in December 1942:
"But I should like, however, to point out in this connection that because of the great number of deaths in the concentration camps, it was impossible to increase the total number of prisoners, in spite of the increased numbers sent to them recently, and that with a constant or even increasing death rate, it is unlikely that an improvement can be effected even by sending an increased number of prisoners."
In the same month the medical office D III complained to the camp doctors of all concentration camps:
"In the enclosed, a compilation of the current arrivals and. departures in all the concentration camps is sent to you for your information. It discloses that out of 136,000 arrivals about 70,000 died. With such a high rate of death the number of prisoners can never be brought up to the figure as has been ordered by the Reich Leader SS."
Grist for the mill of death came from everywhere, not excluding the Reich Ministry of Justice whose chief decreed that all prisoners under protective arrest, Jews, gypsies, Russians, Ukrainians and Poles with more than 3 year sentences; and Czechs and Germans with more than 8 year sentences, were to be sent to concentration camps to be, "worked to death." This Minister of Justice declared in September 1942:
"With a view to freeing the German people of Poles, Russians, Jews, and gypsies, and with a view of making the Eastern territories which have been incorporated into the Reich available for settlements for German nationals, I intend to turn over criminal proceedings against Poles, Russians, Jews, and gypsies to the Reich Leader SS. In so doing I base myself on the prin-
• Page 1100
ciple that the administration of justice can only make a small contribution to the extermination of members of these peoples." (XII/32, Doc. NO-558.)
By 21 December 1942 the Justice Ministry had turned over 12,000 of these prisoners; subordinate agencies had received orders to transfer an additional 35,000. The SS did not fail its assignment. Pohl reported that the death rate of prisoners sent by the Justice Ministry was an average of 30 percent per year and even higher at Mauthausen. Out of 10,191 such prisoners received in Mauthausen, 3,306 had died by the first of the year. (XII/34, Doc. NO-1265.)
Although the fullest utilization of concentration camp labor for commercial purposes did not reach its peak until 1941 and 1942, the inmates had long before been recognized as profitable material. As early as 20 April 1939 we find the Administrative and Economic Main Office of the Reich Leader SS declaring that:
"Since the SS is extending its activity more and more to the field of private economy, we must act in accordance with this realization. (II/5, Doc. NO-542.)
"It would perhaps be a good thing to illustrate on the occasion of a conference with figures to camp commandants what financial loss the SS will suffer if a regular supply of prisoners is not kept up." (II/9, Doc. NO-542.)
As far back as 8 May 1940 it was decided that a special department would be set up for the operation of quarries in Norway. (II/27, Doc. NO-1045.)
By April 1942 the prisoners had fallen into such a pattern of slavery that the SS administration no longer regarded them as free human beings, but as chattels belonging to the Reich permanently. That they were merely war detainees did not enter the minds of the SS hierarchy. Thus plans were made as to how these prisoners should be used even after the war ended. "The mobilization of all prisoners who are fit for work, for purposes of the war now, and for purposes of construction in the forthcoming peace, come to the foreground more and more." (II/67, Doc. R-129.)
With the whole power of the Reich, especially its police forces, behind the SS commercial enterprises, it was not difficult to take over any establishment that seemed attractive. Thus an SS Sturmbannfuehrer reported in October 1944 that he had found a desirable basalt factory in Roemhild near Hildburghausen. He stated that he could arrange for taking over the plant because the mayor (who was an Ostuf., of the General SS) was willing to transfer the work. He declared further that, although he might be confronted with some difficulties, they were not insurmountable. "I hope to
• Page 1101
overcome all difficulties particularly because (1) more important orders are on hand; (2) the Gestapo will back up the matter 100 percent." (XVI/52, Doc. NO-1031.)
On 14 February 1944, Goering asked Himmler to place at his disposal, "as great a number of concentration camp convicts as possible for air armament as this kind of manpower proved to be very useful according to previous experience."
In view of the ever-increasing effectiveness of the Allied air power, Germany was forced to go underground with its airplane factories. "For work of this kind concentration camp convicts can be especially well concentrated at work and in the camp."
Himmler acknowledged this letter enthusiastically, advising that already 36,000 prisoners were being used in the air force industry with a contemplated increase to 90,000 prisoners. "The use of the prisoners has proved its brilliancy here." With regard to the transfer of air industry factories underground, Himmler states that 100,000 additional prisoners are required and then, like one rubbing Aladdin's lamp, he adds: "The plans for this task are already in full progress."
A fairly good idea of conditions at a concentration camp work center (V-weapons were being constructed here) was conveyed by the witness Karl Kahr:
"When I arrived in Dora in January 1944, I was horrified by the living conditions which I saw there and which prevailed for the inmates. In no way had any people been worried about the billets, nor did they worry about their clothing which they needed for their hard work, nor did they take care of any sanitary installations. Out of the 10,000 inmates at the time at least 7,000 of them had to live under the earth; that is in these specially built tunnels. Only 3,000 of them had the possibility to see the sunlight in the camp and to live in barracks. In addition, it so happened that the inmates during the 12-hour shift had to work in the tunnels and had to spend their leisure time in a tunnel nearby. For the sick inmates, while I was there, there were only four barracks for the sick which had the very least equipment that could be expected so that due to the great, large number of sick inmates it was almost impossible to take care of these inmates. Furthermore, due to bad clothing and bad shoes they had great injuries which occurred while they were working on these pointed stones; and the inmates were very badly fed. As they were very badly fed, they did not have the good resistance to these diseases so that the infections on their legs were at a horrible extent. I myself was a doctor. During my activities prior to that I had never seen such infections." (Tr. p. 177.)
• Page 1102
As a doctor in the SS, the witness had the opportunity to complain in behalf of the inmates about these vigorous working conditions. He was informed that it did not matter how many inmates died, the important thing was to get the construction project completed. It is thus not surprising that the death rate for one month (January 1944) was 8 percent. (Tr. P. 185.)
"These inmates died often of the diseases they brought along from other camps. In other words, the lung tuberculosis, which occurred very often. Furthermore, there were organic diseases which resulted from infections with typhus and spotted fever in other camps. And also, I myself saw inmates who organically speaking had no signs of disease but could often have died of malnutrition, because their bodies already showed certain signs of malnutrition." (Tr. p. 180.)
Dr. Bernhard Lauber, a Polish Jewish physician, also an inmate in Ohrdruf, testified that about 4,000 prisoners were employed in the underground factories. He stated that hospital facilities were nonexistent. Those who became ill had to be accommodated in stables.
"There were no beds in those stables, it was a concrete floor. The sick people lay on the bare floor, without straw, without covers, and blankets; no drugs; and these ill people were given 50 percent of the food which we were given. They were so ill that they couldn't eat very well. They lay there, with open wounds, and they were not dressed; and they died there by the thousands." (Tr. p. 291.)
Each day as the prisoners marched away from the roll call, 10 to 12 were left dead on the parade ground. (Tr. p. 292.)
If the concentration camp inmates had been made to work for the Reich directly without compensation or reward, that in itself would have been unjust, but it was worse than that. They were hired out to private industries which paid for their work, not to the prisoners but to the Reich. Thus, the inmates became beasts of burden to be hired out at the will of their masters. The employing industries deducted from the amount paid for their hire, two-fifths the wages of remuneration to cover the housing and food furnished the prisoners, but even Pohl regarded these services as inadequate:
"In view of the inadequate way in which the services were rendered, a deduction of two-fifths must be considered much too high, so that the labor of the prisoners for private industry was very cheap." (XIII/127, Doc. NO-382.)
Industries which did not have the benefit of concentration camp labor complained that the SS industries owed their competitive capability to their cheap or even free-of-charge labor. In the
• Page 1103
attempt to meet these arguments the SS prepared a paper pointing out that:
"For nutritive and psychological reasons the productivity of a prisoner is always considerably lower than that of a worker of the free industry." (XV/76, Doc. NO-510.)
Then, in order to silence the free industries it was seriously proposed to increase the pay of the workers which is simply tragically amusing when one realizes this increase of pay had nothing to do with the worker. He got no pay anyway. It simply meant that the SS or the Reich would become a little richer from the sweats of its foreign slaves.
The I.G. Farben Industry, the largest employer of concentration camp labor, was granted priority over all other industries. At its Bunawerke establishment it employed approximately 40,000 foreign workers and concentration camp inmates. The second largest employer of concentration camp labor was the Hermann Goering Works which drew its inmates from Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Oranienburg. The German Oil and Research Company employed 10,000 inmates taken from Dachau. The Messerschmitt concern tapped Dachau, Flossenbuerg, and Mauthausen for its needs of inmate labor. The quarry at Mauthausen was operate:! by Messerschmitt. The camp at Oranienburg, furnishing labor for the clay pits and the brickworks, was equipped to house 25,000 inmates. The Krupp plant at Auschwitz engaged in the production of fuses, employed concentration camp labor. Approximately 250,000 prisoners were used as laborers in the armament industries, in labor camps and in Aussenlager. Construction project. and armament projects employed an additional approximate 100,000.
Wages for these inmates were fixed by the German Labor Front, but as previously indicated none of the money went to the inmate . It was paid to the Reich through department [division] D. From April 1944 to February 1945 these payments amounted to a total of approximately 120 million RM.
In addition to working in labor camps, armament works and other immobile industries, concentration camp inmates were often taken on travelling labor assignments. Under orders of Pohl, SS construction brigades of 2,500 prisoners were made up for the construction of fortifications and supply lines for the V-1 and V-2 program in the west. A report on this operation, after speaking of the good accommodations and food afforded the men as they travelled from place to place, gives itself away with the statement:
"The footwear can be described as especially bad. Some
• Page 1104
the prisoners have to go barefoot on account of nonexistent footwear. In spite of continuous repairs this situation cannot be remedied." (XXI/7, Doc. NO-2615.)
Dr. Werner Greunuss, speaking of a construction project at labor camp III at Buchenwald, declared that in the examination of 10,000 prisoners here he found one-third totally unfit for work or in need of special care. (XXI/22, 23, Doc. NO-21.)
Then there was the punitive detail where the workers' life could be forfeited for the slightest infraction or supposed infraction of rules. Witness Jerzy Bielski testified on the punitive company (made up of 150 inmates) to which he belonged in Auschwitz.
"All the people there did not get sufficient food. They were beaten during their work, and many of them were shot. On the average, ten prisoners were killed every day, and ten to twenty who had lost consciousness and who were otherwise sick were returned to the camp. The work had to be carried out at double time, and the work had to be achieved at such a speed that nobody was able to carry it out. Whenever we were unable to run as fast as we were told to, or whenever we showed that we did not have sufficient strength to push the carts, then we were always beaten by the foremen and the Kapos, and people were shot by the SS guards." (Tr. p. 305.)
Then there was the gravel pit where out of 300 workers, 10 to 20 dead were carried back each day. (Tr. p. 306.)
Witness Albert Henry Kruse described conditions in the clay pits at Neuengamme:
"I would have to start at the early morning. As soon as the working commandos were assigned new people the working commando started off for the day. These two thousand people were then driven on the double, falling over each other, until they reached their working place. The Kapos and SS people had great fun to beat these people while running after them, while there was confusion.
"Then the people were assigned to various working commandos." (Tr. p. 450.)
At 11:30 the inmates suspended for lunch.
"The food had to be eaten outside in the field regardless of whether it was winter or summer. It often occurred that Kapos, those were the foremen, in case the inmate should not hold the plate correctly, would kick it out of his hand so that he would have to spend the whole day without eating anything. If an inmate collapsed while he was working, which was absolutely natural due to the undernourishment there and it was a daily occurrence, then he was thrown into a closed in area, closed in
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23712
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
• Page 1105
by barbed wire, in which daily there were between ten and thirty inmates, and they had to lie there on the bare earth regardless of whether it was winter or summer." (Tr. p. 451.)
The monthly death rate in Neuengamme amounted to between 8 and 12 percent. During the period that the Clinker Works were being constructed, the death rate climbed to 20 percent, particularly during the winter months. In the month of January 1943, 1,200 inmates died. (Tr. p. 453.)
Witness Herbert Engler, who testified to working and living conditions at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, was asked if the food served the workers was sufficient. He replied:
"Food, if you consider this happy word, was not sufficient.
"I have seen especially tall and strong men who usually need more food than others, that is small men, that these men very quickly reached a physical condition which made it necessary that they be sent to the concentration camp hospital and a part of them died and that was concerned mainly with the water, because the food, the prison food which was given there was mainly soup; there was a lack of food and water, was formed, if I may call it that as a layman, and the main part of the inmates died because of that reason." (Tr. p. 664.)
When the pangs of hunger became unbearable, inmates attempted to add to the camp ration by eating grass, digging up beets or raw potatoes or, "whatever looked like food." (Tr. p. 665.)
Where hospitalization was permitted, inmates often died because of wrong treatment by the camp doctors and inexperienced camp male nurses. (Tr. p. 666.)
As the result of heavy work, grossly disproportionate to the amount of food received, predisposing illness, 800 to 900 inmates died per month at Sachsenhausen. (Tr. p. 667.)
The SS were not entirely without some consideration for the inmates when hatred could be sheathed for a moment and thought given to obtaining the most in work from each prisoner. Prisoners of German nationality were even allowed to ask permission to let their hair grow. Workers who achieved peak performance were allowed to visit the brothel, "as a special reward." For this visit the prisoner paid 2 RM, .50 of which went to the brothel personnel and 1.50 RM to the Reich. (XXII/16.) Even bonus coupons were awarded for top production. The theory of these coupons was that they could be exchanged at the canteen or PX for certain food items or tobacco, but in 1944 and 1945, "it was scarcely possible to buy anything at all which was of interest to an inmate's
• Page 1106
feeding-which was, after all, the most important thing to him." (Tr. p. 707.)
Those who were placed in the punitive detail at Sachsenhausen carried stones for from 12 to 14 hours a day.
"In the Clinker SK, the punitive company, as I have already told the Tribunal this morning, the inmates could not survive as a general rule a period of four weeks. In order to give you the figures of the death rate, I shall have to say that during only one month, of 65 men who composed the Clinker punitive company, 19 inmates died. They died because they went through the guard chain, preferring suicide to the cruel treatment in the Clinker punitive company." (Tr. pp. 714, 715.)
The witness Eugen Kogon, whom we have already mentioned, explained that at Buchenwald his work as a digger was so exhausting that he is alive today only because he was able to bribe his Kapo to turn his head from time to time so that the witness might seize fragmentary rest periods.
At camp Dora, V-weapons were manufactured in the subterranean caverns. They were described by witness Josef Ackermann as so large that two freight trains could drive through them with still a big highway with other railroad installations there. Here the prisoners worked and slept. Thirty-five hundred lived in a big stone chamber.
"The beds were always filled. When one shift had to get up, the other shift had to return from work and take their places, and they would go into that which was filled with lice. It consisted of an old straw bag which stank terribly, and an old blanket which was suited for horses. The air in the mine was so full of calcium that it was hard to breathe." (Tr. p. 348.)
Working for 12 hours and fed insufficiently, many collapsed out of simple exhaustion.
"Whenever I walked through the mines I always had to step and walk over corpses. They were lying just on the way. Many of these prisoners committed suicide by throwing themselves down at the mines or by otherwise committing suicide; or they took a rope and hanged themselves to the next post." (Tr. p. 948.) The death rate constantly increased. In February 1945, with 50,000 workers, 3,500 died. In March 1945, 5,000 died, that is to say, 10 percent of the total population.
The completely inadequate rest allowed the workers at Dora helped to swell the death rate. As a medical clerk, the witness Ackermann prepared a memorandum for Dr. Lolling, physician in charge of concentration camps, pointing out that by reason of working 12 hours and then being compelled to walk to their
• Page 1107
barracks, as well as being required to stand long roll calls, the prisoners did not reach their blocks until 11:30 at night. After getting something to eat, they thus did not get to bed until 12:30.
"In summer time they were again waked up at 2:30 in the morning, so that these people only were able to sleep for 1 1/2 or 2 hours. And this of course resulted in their complete exhaustion. The inferior food alone would not give any explanation for the fact that the corpses of all prisoners consisted of skin and bones. However, with this exhaustion they were unable to take any food, and if they had been given any food it still would not have been of any use." (Tr. p. 951.)
During the war Heinrich Himmler made the startling discovery that German soldiers succumbed to high altitude, pestilence, poisonous food, sea water, and freezing just like all other human beings. He resolved to do something about this and instructed his master scientists to find the mysterious compound which would prolong life, despite war's circumstance.
Where Ponce de Leon failed in his quest for unending youth, the Nazi scientists began, but experimentation was required. Tests had already been made with monkeys, but as their reaction did not entirely coincide with that of human beings, it was necessary to work with live men who could of course die during the test. It was only through the concentration camps that the human experimental material could be obtained.
As inmates refused to offer themselves as human guinea pigs, Himmler made participation in the experiments compulsory. Here and there in all the documents one finds some vague suggestion that only prisoners condemned to death were used in the dangerous tests. But the evidence in no manner whatsoever exhibit, that only death-condemned prisoners were used. And if a doomed man was killed through an experiment, there was nothing to show that any judicial tribunal worthy of the name, passed such final judgment upon him.
Between February and July 1942 high altitude or low pressure experiments were conducted on approximately 200 inmates at Dachau. Between 70 and 80 of these tests resulted fatally. One patient who observed from his window the experiment in the pressure chamber was taken out by Rascher, put into the chamber and killed. (VIII/32, Doc. NO-911.)
These high altitude experiments were followed by cold water freezing experiments in which 80 out of 300 subjects died. Other
• Page 1108
experiments in the battle against winter involved the outdoor exposure of naked victims for from 8 to 14 hours. After this mass refrigeration of human life the master scientists made the astounding observation that frozen people derive some benefit from a hot bath. The weather was apparently very accommodating to the experimenting doctor, Dr. Rascher, who reported to Himmler under date of April 4, 1943:
"The question of saving people frozen in the open air has in the meantime been cleared up, since, thank goodness, there was once again a period of heavy frost weather in Dachau. Certain people were in the open air for 14 hours at -6° C., reached an internal temperature of 25° C., with peripheral freezings, and could all be saved by a hot bath." (Emphasis supplied.) (VII/123, Doc. NO-292.) Himmler recommended to Dr. Rascher that women be used in the resuscitation experiment. The theory was advanced that a naked woman fondling a man whose blood had coagulated to subzero temperatures could restore normal warmth. It was intended that Jews and gypsies be assigned to this operation, but Dr. Rascher reported to Himmler that among these women he found a girl with unquestionable Nordic racial characteristics. It developed that she had volunteered as a prostitute at the concentration camp brothel in order to avoid the concentration camp life itself. While mass killing had never apparently disturbed this arch murderer, this incident touched him deeply and he said:
"It hurts my racial feelings to expose a girl as a prostitute, to racially inferior concentration camp elements, who has the appearance of a pure Nordic and who could perhaps by assignment of proper work be put on the right road." (VII/101, Doc. NO-323.) Dr. Rascher and his fellow scientists were searching for a blood coagulant that would seal up wounds and staunch the flow of the life's fluid, a highly commendable undertaking. However, the methods employed to achieve this desideratum did not quite measure up to the idealism of the quest. With the thousands of soldiers being wounded every day on countless battlefields, the criminal Ponce de Leon still found it necessary to shoot innocent prisoners at Dachau in order to test the various drugs they had concocted. (VII/1, Doc. NO-065.)
Perhaps there is no physical torture so well covered in world literature as human thirst. The cries of the hapless voyager, whether on the sea of water, or ocean of sand, for potable water that cannot be found, have touched the emotions of every reading person. Libraries have been written on this subject. The demonstrated data on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual de-
• Page 1109
terioration of the pitiful traveller deprived of drink are known to the scientists of every civilized country. However, the so-called scientists in the concentration camps, feeling themselves rich with life material, conducted experiments on human thirst, which not only did not solve the age old problem on how to survive without fresh water, but gratuitously inflicted pain, agony, and death on their innocent victims.
In the summer of 1944 a Dr. Beiglboeck at the Dachau concentration camp carried out experiments in which a large number of prisoners were required to drink sea water in order to determine how long they could stand it. An eye-witness, describing the agony of the victims, related how in their torment, they wildly threw themselves on the mops and rags used by hospital attendants and sucked the dirty water out of them in the urge to alleviate the thirst which was driving them into insanity. (VIII/31, Doc. NO-911.)
This Dr. Beiglboeck also conducted experiments with starvation diets, salt diets, and blood lettings. "It was Beiglboeck's practice to send these prisoners undermined by the experiments to the regular infirmary in order to conceal the number of death among the experimental subjects."
Prisoners working in and around the experimental station state that the doctors were proud National Socialists who had the confidence of Himmler's immediate staff because, "the additional sufferings of the patients were so obvious as not to be reconcilable with a physician's conscience." (VIII/32, Doc. NO-911.)
Experiments with malaria were frequent. At Dachau the experimental subjects (in many instances, priests) were placed in small room where each was compelled to hold a box full of mosquitoes. As a result of the malaria experiments there were 30 deaths and as a result of complications 300 to 400 more died. Forty-nine patients died outside the malarial station. (VIII/3, Doc. NO-856.)
Experiments on the causes of jaundice epidemic resulted various deaths. (VIII/34, Doc. NO-371.)
At Ravensbrueck experiments were conducted on the effectiveness of sulfanilamide. Incisions were made in the leg of the victims and gangrenous bacteria cultures were inserted. The wound was then closed and the leg encased in a cast. But since the infection which resulted were not typical of battlefield gangrene infections, it was decided to add tiny fragments of wood shavings to the bacteria cultures which would simulate the crust of dirt customarily found in battlefield wounds. (VIII/43, Doc. NO-228.)
"Before I could complete my report on the procedures used and the results obtained, (Dr. Grawitz) brusquely interrupted
• Page 1110
me and observed that the conditions under which the experiments were performed did not sufficiently resemble conditions prevailing at the front. He asked me literally, 'How many deaths have there been?' and when I reported that there had not been any, he stated that that confirmed his assumption that the experiments had not been carried in accordance with his directions." (VIII/44, Doc. NO-228.)
New experiments were initiated:
"The incisions were made on the lower part of the leg only in all series to make an amputation possible. It was not made on the upper thigh because then no area for amputation would remain. However, in the series the inflammation was so rapid there was no remedy and no amputations were made." (VIII/46, Doc. NO-228.) Dr. Zofia Maczka, a former political prisoner in Ravensbrueck and now living in Stockholm, prepared an affidavit for the British Consulate in which she related her experiences at Ravensbrueck:
"The operations were to be carried out for scientific purposes, but they had nothing to do with science. They were carried out under horrible conditions. The doctors and the assisting personnel were not trained properly medically. Conditions were neither aseptic nor hygienic. After operations the patients were left in shocking rooms without medical help, without nursing, or supervision. The dressings were made according to the whim of the doctors with unsterilized instruments and compresses. Dr. Rosenthal who did most of the dressings, excelled himself in sadism. In summer of 1943 the last operations were carried out in the 'bunker'. 'Bunker' is the name of the horrible prison in the camp. The victims were taken there because they resisted and there in the cell, their dirty legs were operated on. This was the 'scientific atmosphere' in which the 'scientific' operations were carried out." (VIII/56, .57, Doc. NO-861.)
Poles, political prospective prisoners, 74 in number, were chosen as subjects. The youngest was 16 years of age, the oldest 48 years. Dr. Zofia Maczka described the procedure:
"The soft part of the calf of the legs was opened and the open wounds were infected with bacteria which were introduced into the wounds. The following were used: staphylococcus aureus, oedema malignum (clostridium oedematis maligni), gas gangrene bacillus (Gasbrandbacillus) (clostridium perfrim gens) and tetanus.
Weronika Kraska was infected with tetanus. She died after a few days. Kazimiera Kurowska was infected with gas gangrene bacillus; she died after a few days. The following were infected with oedema malignum: Aniela Lefanowicz, Zofia Kiecol, Alfreda Pros, and Maria Kusmierczuk. The
• Page 1111
first three died after a few days: Maria Kusmierczuk got over the infection. She was lying ill for more than a year and became a cripple, but she lives, and is a living evidence of the experiments. Mostly pyogene stimulants were employed. The wounds were stitched after the infection and serious illness began. Many of the patients were ill for months and almost all of them became cripples." (VIII/57, Doc. NO-861.)
Many bone transplantation experiments were conducted. Practically all of the patients became permanent cripples. In addition they suffered the torturesome fear they might be shot in order not to be living evidence of what had been done to them. (VIII/59, Doc. NO-861.)
This mania for experimentation was carried to the point where legs at the hip joint were removed from psychopathic patients to determine, it is assumed, if the amputation of legs might affect the mental condition of the patient. (V111/63, Doc. NO-861.)
One very curious phase of this experimentation business was its secrecy. If the objective of medical experimentation in itself was just and the means honorable, it is difficult to understand why the procedure should be clothed in mystery except that the perpetrators were fully conscious of the criminality of their acts. Thus we find Pohl reproaching Dr. Rascher for writing a magazine article on one experiment:
"I deem it necessary that in future publications you avoid carefully everything which could induce people who are familiar with the subject (and one must always consider that such people exist) to the conclusion that experiments on prisoners arc involved." (VIII/70, Doc. NO-615.)
At Natzweiler between 160 and 200 prisoners were infected with typhus viruses, naturally without their consent, and without their having been at any time sentenced to such experiment. Fifty died from the experiment. (IX/29, Doc. NO-2466.)
Although neither side in World War II used poison gas, its employment was always a threatened possibility, and in anticipation of its use the concentration camp scientists experimented to ascertain the best treatment for wounds caused by Lost, commonly known as mustard gas. Inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were subjected to wounding in various parts of the body and then the wounds were infected with Lost. There seems to be no record of the results of this experiment except the usual one that, "some of the prisoners died as a result." (IX/39. Doc. NO-372.)
One searches in vain for a document which proclaims that as a result of all this experimentation there came to light — not a startling scientific discovery — but even a simple improvement in
• Page 1112
any normally prescribed treatment for a peace time ailment or a war time injury.
An ex-Buchenwald inmate described various types of poison gas experiments. In one experiment a certain fluid was dropped on the right and left forearm of the subject. After 24 hours serious symptoms of burning appeared. Seven out of thirty subjects died. Another experiment involved placing the subjects in a gas chamber where they were required to inhale outpouring gas. Rendered unconscious, attempts were then made to revive patients through artificial respiration. In most cases the attempts failed. The dead bodies were then dissected. Even in the manner the victims died, the experimenters were able to find a certain satisfaction. One Professor Hirt, after such a fatal experiment, shook hands with the practicing physician and said: "We may congratulate ourselves that our experiments turned out so well." (IX/48, Doc. NO-590.)
About 1,000 inmates were taken from Block 46 at Buchenwald for the typhus experiments. One-hundred fifty-five of these died. (Tr. p. 737.)
A certain Dr. Ding-Schuler, whose diary on experiments was a subject of much discussion at the trial, conducted various experiments with spotted fever. Out of the 39 subjects there were 21 fatalities. (Tr. p. 913.)
One inmate died under certain circumstances which baffled the experimenters. In order to find out what kind of poison and how much of it had been administered to the deceased, 4 Russian prisoners of war were given various doses without their knowledge. Testifying on this subject witness Kogon said:
"When two of the Russian prisoners of war suffered only a collapse and two were not dead, all four of them were taken to the crematorium, and there they were hanged after an hour.
"Q. Why did they hang them; do you know?
"A. No. I do not know the reason. I assume as the whole thing was an SS trial and very strange — I think they wanted to get rid of the living witnesses." (Tr. p. 742.)
Testing the effect of incendiary bombs, the contents of sulphur bombs were poured on the arms of various prisoners and then the affected area set on fire. An attempt was made to extinguish the fire with certain drugs the scientists had manufactured. The wounds caused by these burnings went as deep as 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 centimeters. (Tr. p. 747.)
Between autumn of 1942 and the summer of 1943, 500 inmates at Buchenwald, Block 46, were experimented on as follows:
"One group of victims were first vaccinated with the spotted fever vaccine and then infected with the spotted fever virus.
• Page 1113
In order to contrast the effectiveness of the vaccine another group of inmates were merely infected with the spotted fever virus without any previous vaccination. During this time about 10 percent of the total number of the inmates used died as a result." (X/124, Doc. NO-429.)
A chemist, Paul Bennart, who was liberated from the Nordhausen concentration camp in April 1945, declared that while at Buchenwald he knew of experiments with typhus serums. From 300 to 400 prisoners were involved in these experiments which lasted two or three months, and eventually all of them died. (XI/83, Doc. 2222-PS.)
On 1 September 1939, Hitler sent his armies smashing into Poland fully aware that he was in every probability precipitating a world war. This awareness informed him of the blood that was to flow, not only from his adversaries, but from the bodies of his own soldiers as well. Battle injuries and disease would incapacitate a substantial portion of his military; hospitals and doctors throughout Germany, would be at a premium. Now throughout Germany, aged and incurably insane, as well as deformed children, were occupying hospitals desperately to be needed for his fighting men. These "useless eaters" were in the way, they were an impediment in the military program, and, in addition, an embarrassment to Hitler's theory of the master race. Only those who could strengthen the Nordic stock and the Third Reich were worthy of life. Hence Hitler decreed that these "useless eaters be killed. This project of wholesale murder was given the euphemistic title, "Euthanasia Program", but in the profession it was known as 14 f 13.
The systematic murder proclaimed by 14 f 13 was achieved through a simple procedure. A commission of three physicians visited the various hospitals, institutions, and concentration camps to examine patients on whom reports had already been received as to their adaptability to the death program. The examinations performed, however, were more ritualistic than real, more perfunctory than fact-finding. Dr. Mennecke, a member of this commission, testified at Nuernberg in Military Tribunal I as follows:
"Q. Doctor, were all of the concentration camp inmates selected, actually insane?
"Q. Will you explain your answer please?
"A. By insanity we mean a disease which shows characteristic interferences with the mental activity which I will not describe
• Page 1114
but I will call them characteristics. That is what we mean by insanity. That condition, in the majority of cases of inmates in the concentration camps, was not true.
"Q. Were any inmates selected only for the reason that they were unable to work?
"A. That is possible.
"Q. Were people selected who had diseases other than those of the mind, such as tuberculosis?
"A. Yes. Such people were also included." (X/74, 75, Doc. NO-2635.)
Writing to his wife this, Dr. Mennecke confided that the commission itself considered the examinations as "merely a theoretical work."
"Afterwards we continued our examinations until about 16 o'clock, I myself examined 105 patients, Mueller 78 patients, so that finally a total of 183 reports were ready as a first portion. As second portion, a total of 1,200 Jews followed, all of whom do not need to be ‘examined’, but where it is sufficient, to take the reason for their arrest from the files (often very voluminous!) and to transfer it to the reports. Therefore it is merely a theoretical work." (X/57, Doc. NO-907.)
Ferdinand Roemhild, testifying in the "Medical Case" in Court No. 1, declared that in the summer of 1941 a delegation arrived at Buchenwald from the Reich Criminal Office and medically selected inmates under Action 14 f 13. The selection was accomplished by, "cynical remarks." The persons selected were loaded aboard a transport and sent to an unknown destination. "A few hours after their departure personal belongings came back, among them teeth." (X/127, Doc. NO-2636.)
In the autumn of 1941 an investigation was conducted of all Jews in that camp. Those that were unfit for labor were sought out and later sent away. Still later the witness saw reports to the effect that these Jews had died a "natural death." Six hundred persons were involved in the list. (X/127, Doc. NO-2636.)
Of those reputedly suffering from incurable tuberculosis, 500 were killed, but the witness said that the "largest amount of these people were only undernourished, and in better living conditions could have been saved without doubt." (X/129, Doc. NO-2636.)
The factor which determined death was not incurability but an inability to work! A communication from department [division] D of WVHA to the commandants of the concentration camps called attention to a report from one concentration camp in which it was said that 42 to 51 inmates selected for death became, "fit for work again." The communication then scolds the commandants:
"This shows that the selection of these inmates is not being ef-
• Page 1115
fected in compliance with the rules laid down. Only those inmates whose correspondence to the conditions laid down and this is the most important thing, those who are no longer fit for work, are to be brought before the examining commission." (X/40, Doc. 1151-PS.)
Further an order issued 27 April 1943 declared that if not killed, "bed-ridden patients are to be given suitable work which can also be done in bed."
The operation of the extermination program was described by one witness in Buchenwald as follows:
"They sat down on a chair quietly, that is without emotion, near a light. A male nurse blocked the vein in the arm and Dr. Hoven injected the phenol quickly. Still during the injection they died in a momentary total cramp without any sign of other pain. The time between the beginning of the injection and the fatal result, I estimate at about one-half a second. For security reasons the rest of the dose was injected, although part of the injection would have been enough for the fatal result. (I estimate 5 cc.)
"The dead were carried into an adjoining room by the nurses --the time of my presence and witness I estimate at 10 minutes." (XXI/44, Doc. NO-257.)
The euthanasia program became an easy vehicle for the extermination of persons considered undesirable regardless of health. Jews had but little chance of survival once they appeared on the list of those to be examined. Dr. Mennecke testified:
"Well, it wasn't important to examine the Jews. The important fact was for the leadership of the program to find out what the reasons for their arrest were. The situation was that these Jews, in every case, were healthy, physically and mentally." (X/76, 77, Doc. NO-2635.)
This doctor also declared that it was made evident to him that if he did not go along with the murder project he might not only be subjected to imprisonment in a concentration camp himself, but, "even shooting was mentioned." (X/77, Doc. NO-2635.)
Waldemar Hoven, an SS physician, related that in 1941 the camp commandant at Buchenwald, informed of the euthanasia program through a secret communication from Himmler, ordered that all Jewish inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp be included in the 14 f 13 operation. "In accordance with these orders 300 to 400 Jewish prisoners of different nationalities were sent to the euthanasia station at Bernburg for extermination." (X/125. Doc. NO-429.)
The selection of the patients for extermination was sometimes camouflaged with the announcement that they were to be taken
• Page 1116
to another camp. One Walter Neff, a male nurse in a concentration camp related:
"Only when these invalids were taken away did we realize that it could not be a different living detail, because the people had to turn in their crutches and whatever else they had, and they were taken away by the hundreds. We could follow their route only as far as Linz, but the death reports which came in and their clothing which came back told us that the people had been liquidated." (X/131, Doc. NO-2637.)
In these camps the doctor went through the ward and indicated casually this one and that one for invalid execution. Sometimes whole blocks were evacuated in one action without any distinction as to the state of health of the individual patients. The period between the listing and removal was usually about 6 weeks, and those who were on the list were examined once more, not by a doctor, but by a Gestapo official! When he signed the slip it amounted to a death sentence. (X/131-134, Doc. NO-2637.)
At times there was not even the slightest pretense of selection. The chiefs of certain wards were instructed to submit so many names:
"It was like this, Dr. Brachtel told me there is an invalid action, from your tuberculosis ward, you will have to report at least 50 patients. If you do not do that the camp doctor will select them. You can imagine how many will be left then'." (X/135, 136, Doc. NO-2637.)
These nurses were forced into the blood-freezing dilemma of having to select 50 names for killing, or by doing nothing, permitting a much larger massacre!
Friedrich Entress, the SS physician, stated that in May 1942 he first became acquainted with the euthanasia action. An order from Dr. Lolling, chief physician of all concentration camps, directed that euthanasia was to be applied to the incurable tubercular and mental patients and those permanently incapable of work. In the autumn of 1942 this order was extended to include sick patients whose cure and reconvalescence was unlikely within 4 weeks!! (XXI/26, Doc. NO-2368.)
It is to the great credit of the church in Germany that once they learned that such a monstrous program existed, protest was made. The Bishop of Limburg wrote to the Minister of Justice in 1941:
"About 8 kilometers from Limburg, in the little town of Hadamar, on a hill overlooking the town, there is an institution which had formerly served various purposes and of late had been used as a nursing home; this institution was renovated and furnished as a place in which, by consensus of opinion.
• Page 1117
the above-mentioned euthanasia has been systematically practiced for months, approximately since February 1941. The fact has become known beyond the administrative district of Wiesbaden, because death certificates from a Registry Hadamar-Moenchberg are sent to the home communities. (Moenchberg is the name of this institution because it was a Franciscan monastery prior to its secularization in 1803.) Several times a week buses arrive in Hadamar with a considerable number of such victims. School children of the vicinity know this vehicle and say: ‘There comes the murderbox again.’ After the arrival of the vehicle, the citizens of Hadamar watch the smoke rise out of the chimney and are tortured with the ever-present thought of the miserable victims, especially when repulsive odors annoy them, depending on the direction of the wind * * *. All God-fearing men consider this destruction of helpless beings as crass injustice, and if anybody says that Germany cannot win the war, if there is yet a just God, these expressions are not the result of a lack of love of Fatherland but of a deep concern for our people. The population can not grasp that systematic actions are carried out which in accordance with paragraph 211 of the German Criminal Code are punishable with death. High authority as a moral concept has suffered a severe shock as a result of these happenings. The official notice that N.N. had died of a contagious disease and for that reason his body had to be burned, no longer finds credence, and such official notices which are no longer believed have further undermined the ethical value of the concept of authority." (Doc. 615-PS.)
However, this protest could not be strong enough to stop the merciless juggernaut of a Hitler-Himmler order from proceeding on its way, and thus by the time of the collapse, 275,000 people were killed in the euthanasia program throughout Germany and occupied countries. (X/1, Doc. NO-2680.)
Prior to, and actually during the period of the Jewish extermination program, there were some party leaders who sought another solution to their self-imposed problem on how to eliminate the Jew from Germany. Plans were considered for deporting Jews to faraway places, and one Dr. Hevelmann suggested the Island of Madagascar for this purpose. Such a project was actually drafted. (X/8.) Then as the need for manpower became more and more pressing, someone observed that it was bad economics to kill off work-producing units. The question then presented itself How can the Jews be eliminated and yet their brawn be utilized?
• Page 1118
How could they be killed and yet be kept alive to work? The answer was sterilization. If the Jews could be sterilized, they could be employed for profitable labor, and the race would still be extinct for the coming generations. It was a brilliant idea. SS Oberfuehrer Viktor Brack wrote Himmler under date of 23 June 1942:
"Among 10 millions of Jews, are in Europe, I figure at least 2-3 millions of men and women are fit enough for work. Considering the extraordinary difficulties of the labor problem present us with, I hold the view that these 2-3 millions should be specially selected and preserved. This can, however, only be done if at the same time they are rendered incapable to propagate." (IX/84, Doc. NO-205.) Dr. Pokorny wrote to Himmler about research work being conducted in this field:
"If, on the basis of this research, it were possible to produce a drug which after a relatively short time, effects an imperceptible sterilization on human beings, then we would have a new powerful weapon at our disposal. The thought alone that the three million Bolsheviks, at present German prisoners, could be sterilized so that they could be used as laborers but be prevented from reproduction, opens the most far-reaching perspectives." (IX/53, Doc. NO-035.)
Now came the search for the effective sterilizing agent. A certain Madaus found that the sap of the Schweigrohr (caladium seguinum), when taken by mouth, or given as an injection, produced after a certain time permanent sterility. However, experimentation along this line bogged down when it was learned that Schweigrohr grew only in North America, and during the war could not be imported in adequate quantities. Attempts to grow the plant from seed cultivated in hothouses had been crowned with success, but the process was slow and the yield not sufficient to permit large-scale experimentation.
On 30 May 1942 Professor Clauberg, chief of the Gynecological Clinic, recommended to Himmler the establishment of certain clinics for the testing out of various plans of sterilization without operation. (IX/68, Doc. NO-211.) Himmler informed Clauberg that the Auschwitz concentration camp would be at his disposal for these experiments on, "human beings and animals." Brandt, Himmler's adjutant, urged that "by means of some fundamental experiment a method should be found which would lead to sterilization of the persons without their knowledge." (IX/71, Doc. NO-216.) Himmler then wanted to know of Clauberg, before he started his job, how long would it take to sterilize a thousand Jewesses? (IX/72, Doc. NO-213.) To this Clauberg replied:
• Page 1119
"If my research continues to have the same results as up to now-and there is no reason to doubt that — then the moment is no longer far off when I can say: ‘By one adequately trained physician in one adequately equipped place with perhaps 10 assistants (the number of assistants in conformity with the desired acceleration) most likely several hundred — if not even 1,000 per day: " (IX/76, Doc. NO-212.)
By means of X-ray, with two-valve installation, about 150 to 200 persons could be sterilized daily. With 20 such installations, it was estimated that somewhere from 300 to 400 could be sterilized in a day. (IX/82, Doc. NO-203.)
Dr. Clauberg developed a method for the sterilization of women by introducing an irritating solution into the body. After conducting widespread experiments on Jews and gypsies at the Auschwitz concentration camp, several thousand women were sterilized. (IX/52, Doc. NO-440.)
One of the many victims of sterilization appeared in Court and testified to the irreparable damage which had been done him by the Nazis as a result of this program.
"We had to take off our clothes immediately and we were put underneath a big machine, and we were sterilized there. They put two blocks between our legs, which were hot, and that is how we had to stay for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. After that we were all sent back to our block, and we were put to work immediately. A few of those who were with us were immediately transferred to the hospital because they simply couldn't walk." (Tr. p. 634.) Two weeks later this witness was taken to the hospital and castrated. In Court he broke down and wept as he related his harrowing experience and, in a state of shame and mortification, asked the Tribunal not to divulge his name so that his only surviving relative, a sister, might not know what had happened to him. (Tr. p. 633.)
No attempt will be made in this opinion to analyze or explain anti-Semitism. No one has yet answered Shylock's lament:
"I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?"
• Page 1120
Anti-Semitism has existed in countries other than Germany, and with as little reason, but nowhere in the world and at no time in history has prejudice against a race been carried to the extremes of inhumanity and savagery witnessed during the Nazi regime in Germany and the countries which came under its despotic rule.
Point 4 of the Nazi Party program declared: "Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race." It also provided that Jews cannot hold public office, and that they should be treated as foreigners. Upon accession to power the Nazi not only put these policies into effect, but introduced oppressive measures of afar more serious nature. These oppressions included confiscation of property, levying of huge indemnities, seizure of assets, lootings of Jewish business, destruction of Jewish synagogues, arresting of prominent Jewish businessmen. Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star on the breast and back. At no time was it charged that these persons had committed any crime. Their only offense was that they belonged to a certain race. Cruel and unjust as were the restrictions and penalties above indicated, they were mere child's play compared to what was yet to befall the Jew. He was first and last deprived of his freedom.
It was not only the German Jew who was sent to the concentration camps, wherever the German armies and influence penetrated, doom was written for the Jews. The Nazis set out to gather up the Jews of the world. "The following will be evacuated and transported to the East:
Jews of French nationality, Jews who are citizens of the former Czechoslovakia (Now Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia)., Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Croatia), Greece, Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), Albania, Italy, and all stateless Jews (including those who have emigrated from Reich territories)." (IV/92, 93, Doc. NO-1411.)
The order to arrest all Jews in France provided that when a Jew was arrested all members of his family were to be arrested. And by family was meant not only the immediate family of parents and children, but also married brothers and sisters and small children living in children's homes. Not one must escape. "In case not all members of the family are in the apartment, the apartment shall be occupied until the missing Jew returns." (IV/90.) When the arrests were made in cities, each house was to be carefully examined as to the number of Jewish inhabitants:
"In order to save work and petrol, the arrest parties must therefore be so prepared that not only one Jew is arrested,
• Page 1121
but that in one action a whole district (in the country a whole village, or a whole block of houses) is purged." (IV/90, Doc. NO-1411.)
Upon arrest, the Jews were required to take with them all their money, jewelry, and other valuables for reasons which will be seen later. They were obliged to transport with them all their clothing, underwear, bed linen, etc., for purposes also to be noted in another part of the opinion. Keys to their houses were to be turned over to the arresting authorities. (IV/93, Doc. NO-1411.)
The transport of these Jews was to be arranged so that there was no possibility of flight. "If there is no other possibility of security measures, their hands have to be tied together by a long rope." (IV/94, Doc. NO-1411.)
So that no Jews should escape the dragnet, bonuses were offered to informers. The amount to be paid the informer would be taken from the money of the arrested Jew. "If a Jew, thus betrayed and apprehended, has no money other Jews will be called upon to pay the bonus." (IV/96, Doc. NO-1411.)
As negligible as was the effort to return the property of deceased concentration camp inmates to their relatives, there was an out and out prohibition against returning property of Polish and Jewish prisoners, as well as the effects of prisoners from former Soviet territories. Alive or dead, they were absolutely outside the pale. (V/94, Doc. NO-393.)
"The return of valuables taken into safe keeping from Jews in concentration camps who are citizens of foreign countries, or to the relatives of those who have died, is out of the question." (V/149, Doc. NO-1235.)
Not only was the return of valuables taken from deceased Jews prohibited, but in the Protectorate a vigorous injunction was laid down against the return of the ashes of deceased Jews and Czechoslovakians. Nothing must be left of the hated Jew. (VI/1, Dog, NO-1510.)
Special letters and reports on the death of Jews in concentration camps were expressly forbidden. (VI/3.) The decease of Jews was to be reported only in roster form. (V/14, Doc. NO-1246.)
The crimes and sins of the Jewish inmates, however, were duly catalogued. An idea of the nature of the offenses which landed Jews in concentration camps can be gathered from a few of the charges taken from the concentration camp files:
"Continuous race defilement by keeping her Jewish descent a secret and rendering the Hitler salute. * * * (X/113, Doc. NO-3060.)
"Incredible, impudent, and spiteful remarks toward Germans. On the
train made acquaintance of soldiers coming from
• Page 1122
the front, introduced herself as Jewess, gave them bread, swapped it for coffee and cocoa, then insulted the soldiers in the meanest possible way. (X/114.)
"Erna Sara Fritz, 23 Sep 04, divorced servant maid at Rumburg-South. Continues race defilement, fetched her Aryan lovers from the Café am Markt. Jewish full-blood prostitute. (X/115.)
"Committed race defilement with more than 60 Aryan men. (X/117.)
"Continuous race defilement: ‘I detested Jewish men, therefore I looked for German lovers.’ (X/117.)
"Committed race defilement with numerous German men, 1 bastard child. (X/118.)
"Impudent, challenging behavior toward members of the SS. (X/118.)
"Continuous race defilement. Camouflaged her Jewish descent by Catholicism, wore a Christian cross around her neck. (X/119.)
"Was seen at Lochwitz when she acquired from a farmer 1 pound of butter, 1 soda bottle full of cream, 1 bottle of milk (unskimmed milk). Stated it was compensation for work done for the farmer (X/120.)
"Committed race defilement with more than 24 German men continuously." (X/120, Doc. NO-3060.)
The fact that the race defilement referred to could not of course have been committed without the active cooperation of the Aryan in no way mitigated the offense.
Every department of the Reich Government was polluted with Jewish hatred. Even the Ministry of Justice, presumably dedicated to safeguarding the rights of all peoples, prostituted itself to the point of officially declaring that criminal proceedings against the Jews (also the Russians, Poles, and gypsies) were to be turned over to the SS, the reason being, "that the administration of justice can only make a small contribution to the extermination of members of these peoples."
The Minister of Justice (!) then goes on to say that much better results can be accomplished by surrendering such persons to the police. "You can then take the necessary measures unhampered by any legal evidence. (XII/32, Doc. NO-558.)
On 3 December 1942, Himmler ordered the establishment of a diamond-cutting factory in the concentration camp at Herzogenbusch [Hertogenbosch], to which Jews had been deported from the Netherlands. The Aryan owners of the diamond establishments in the Netherlands asked that 80 Jewish polishers and 18 Jewish cutters he returned to the factory to complete the manu-
• Page 1123
facture of half-finished articles. The request stated that the urgency of the decision was based on the fact that the Amsterdam diamond industry had practically come to a standstill by deportation of the Jews on 18 May.
The irony of this situation lies in the fact that, despite the ever-continued derogation of the Jews, the Nazis were compelled to admit that in many ways they were dependent upon those they despised. They hated the Jew but they made money on him. Propertyless Germans could, by getting free Jewish labor, develop into well-to-do proprietors and millionaires.
The road of sorrow for the Jew began with the deprivation of his citizenship rights, followed by the confiscation of his property, and then the humiliation of identification insignia which subjected him to degrading treatment publicly and privately. All this was but a prelude to the loss of his liberty, the forced confinement in a ghetto where he not only had no comforts and conveniences of decent living, but not even sufficient living space. Then came the concentration camp, with all its horrors of a living death, which later in itself became an actual death in an extermination camp. (XIX/48, Doc. NO-519.)
On 31 July 1941, Goering wrote SS Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich, charging him with making:
"All necessary preparations in regard to organizational and financial matters for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe." (XVIII/7, Doc. 710-PS.)
How this solution was developed will be amply demonstrated later on in this opinion, but it is obvious already that the solution did not include much consideration for the sanctity of human life. At Mauthausen an occasional Jew was killed just for the entertainment of guests:
"I avoided frequent visits to the concentration camps be cause it was customary — especially at Mauthausen-Gusen near Linz/Danube — to hang one or two prisoners in honor of the visitors. At Mauthausen it was customary to make Jewish workers work in a quarry at great altitude. After a while the SS on duty would say:
‘Pay attention, in a couple of minutes there will be an accident.’ And, indeed, one or two minutes later, some Jews were thrown from the cliff and fell dead at our feet. ‘Work accident’ was written in the files of the death." (Handwritten statement by Kurt Gerstein, former SS Obersturmfuehrer.)
How the program of "complete solution" went into operation in Galicia is told by the report of SS Gruppenfuehrer Katzmann entrusted with the task. He first made every Jew wear a white
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23712
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
• Page 1124
armlet bearing the Star of David in blue. Next he established forced labor camps and put 20,000 Jews working on military roads. All other Jews were registered and distributed for work by labor agencies. Then came the evacuation to concentration camps. However, many of the employers, quite satisfied with their Jewish workers, sought to retain them by issuing to them certificates of labor which called down the wrath of the SS, not on the employers but on the Jews. Thousands were charged with having forged their certificates and were "exposed to special treatment." (XVIII/103, Doc. L-18.)
The SS administration felt deeply offended because some German employers intervened in behalf of the Jews:
"Where Jews were arrested in the course of these checkups most of their employers thought it necessary to intervene in favor of the Jews. This often happened in a manner which had to be called deeply shameful." (XVIII/105, Doc. L-18.) A German merchant working for the army in Lwow [Lvov] came in for special censure because he sent the following telegram to the SS Police Leader:
"The two certificates are craftsmen watchmakers; are resident in my future factory as night watchmen, and watchmakers in day time. I should not wish to be guilty of their death; after my return you can have them both, they do not run away. I beg of you." (XVIII/105, Doc. L-18.)
Those allowed to remain at work in the armament factories were housed in barracks, but relatives were prohibited from having accommodations even within the same block. Naturally the workers received no pay for this work. But money, nonetheless, was made on their services. The factories were required to pay to the SS and Police Leader of Galicia 5 zlotys per man and 4 zlotys per woman.
Then came the process of forced evacuation which the Jews, knowing what was in store for them, resisted.
General Katzmann [SS] reported:
"On the occasion of these actions, many more difficulties occurred owing to the fact that the Jews tried every means in order to dodge evacuation (‘Aussiedlung’). Not only did they try to flee, but they concealed themselves in every imaginable corner, in pipes, chimneys, even in sewers, etc. They built barricades in passages of catacombs, in cellars enlarged to dugouts, in underground holes, in cunningly contrived hiding places, in attics, and sheds, within furniture, etc." (XVIII/111, Doc. L-18.) The SS men drenched themselves with self-pity as they faced their task:
• Page 1125
"The detachments continually were exposed to serious physical and mental strain. Again and again they had to overcome the nausea threatening them when they were compelled to enter the city and pestilential Jewish holes." (XVIII/109, Doc. L-18.) A long series of photographs accompanied the report. The inscription of one read:
"Exposed tunnel to a dugout. This dugout was 3-stoned [storied?] equipped with sanitary arrangements and radio apparatus, and supplied with food at least 5 months. It was occupied by 125 Jews, among them one physician. The inmates were rendered harmless by concentrated (explosive) charges." (XVIII/116, Doc. L-18.) Dissolving the ghetto in Lwow the SS men had to use brutal measures, the report says, in order to avoid losses on their side:
"We had to blow up or to burn down several houses. On this occasion the surprising fact arose that we were able to catch about 20,000 Jews instead of 12,000 Jews who had registered. We had to pull at least 3,000 Jewish corpses out of every kind of hiding places; they had committed suicide by taking poison." (XVIII/117, Doc. L-18.)
And then in a burst of pride the SS report concludes:
"Despite the extraordinary burden heaped upon every single SS police officer during these actions, mood and spirit of the men were extraordinarily good and praiseworthy from the first to the last day. Only thanks to the sense of duty of every single leader and man have we succeeded to get rid of the PLAGUE in so short a time." (XVIII/118, Doc. L-18.)
A report on the Lodz ghetto, dated 24 January 1944, declared casually that as of 11 January 1944 the ghetto contained 80,062 Jews, of which 500 died every month, or 6,000 per year. (XIX/42, Doc. NO-519.)
And yet, as much as the Reich odiated the Jews, in some instances they were treated well. This was not because the attitude of their oppressors had changed, but because the victors at times felt the hot wind of the vanquished blowing across their faces, and so an anchor to windward was cast in order to be safe in the event the fortunes of war were to turn. In these instances Jews were actually employed in offices, and not a few of the Aryans helped themselves to the favor of Jewesses. All these brought down the wrath of Kaltenbrunner who decreed:
"Jews and persons on a similar level may be employed only for manual labor. All private relations with Jews, Jewesses and persons on the same level as well as all dealings with them exceeding the bounds of duty, are prohibited."
• Page 1126
Himmler was furious with anyone who shielded a Jew, even if in doing so he was advancing the cause of the Reich:
"However, I have given directions to proceed unrelentingly against all those who believe that they have to oppose this step with so-called armament interest, but who in reality only wish to support the Jews and their business." (XX/1, Doc. NO-1611.) He gave orders that all Jews in the armament works were to be removed therefrom and sent to concentration camps. "Of course, there too, the Jews shall some day disappear in accordance with the Fuehrer's wishes." (!!)
On 5 October 1942 Himmler ordered that all concentration camps within the Reich territory were to be cleared of Jews. "All Jews within these concentration camps are therefore to be transferred to Auschwitz or Lublin." What happened to the Jews sent to these two places is described later. (V/52, Doc. 3677-PS.)
World War II, shattering every record for destruction, damage, turbulence, and death, eclipsed all known calculations also in the transportation of human freight. Never in any decade, or perhaps century, were there such mass migrations of human beings as occurred between 1939 and 1945. This vast movement was not limited to the armed forces. Civilian populations travelled as they never did before. Europe became a nomadic continent. Refugees, workers, slaves, laborers, captured peoples crossed frontiers and entered new horizons in a kaleidoscopic travelogue of misery and degradation that has no parallel even in fiction.
In describing the horrors experienced by the wretches transported to Auschwitz for extermination, the Polish investigation commission declared that they were subjected to such cruel suffering of body and soul that, "death in the steam chambers must have come almost as a welcome relief." (XVIII/31, Doc. 3311-PS.)
Transport was the name given to movement whether the travel was by vehicle, or on foot. When travel was by land, as many as 130 persons were placed in cattle or freight cars, and in wintertime no extra clothing was allowed for the journey. In one group of 4,500 men and 500 women who moved from Monowitz to Nordhausen in January 1945, a trip lasting 8 days, only twice were the prisoners given food which consisted of one-half loaf of bread and 106 grams of meat. Space was so tight that the weak and the sick were smothered by their own comrades when they
• Page 1127
sat down. Upon arrival at their destination, between 1,000 and 1,300 of the travellers were dead.
On 8 March 1945, 2,000 prisoners were taken from Nordhausen to Bolkenberg, a 10-day trip by wagon and foot for which they were given 3 days' food. Only 1,000 arrived alive. (VI/89, Doc. 2222-PS.)
The commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp, Hermann Pister, declared in an affidavit taken at Dachau on 3 February 1947:
"Transports from the East arrived most of the time in open boxcars, so that out of a transport with a total strength of 1,200 prisoners 300 arrived already dead in the Buchenwald CC, while the rest were merely skeletons. This happened frequently, and I found out that the transports were sometimes on the way for 4 weeks. In most cases, no advanced notice was given about these transports:" (III/122, Doc. NO-2327.)
Gerhard Schiedlausky, physician at this same camp related:
"Each of these transports was met at the Buchenwald railway station by a group of personnel charged with the care of the inmates as well as by all available vehicles such as hand carts, carts and trucks to pick up the inmates who were no longer able to walk and to bring them to the bathing installations. Others were dragging along painfully supporting each other. There were cases when inmates who, to be bathed suddenly, collapsed and died under the shower. I remember one transport where among about 2,000 inmates, 460 of them were unloaded dead. The hospital chief reported to me about the fate of these arrivals and told me that within the next few days hundreds more of them died regularly. (XXI/4, Doc. NO-2332.)
Kurt Gerstein described the arrival of a 45-car train at Auschwitz [Belsec]. Of the 6,700 passengers who had boarded the train, 1,450 arrived already corpses. (XVIII/49, Doc. 1553-PS.)
It often happened that prisoners arrived in a debilitated condition but not yet too far gone to be saved. However, Gerhard Wiebeck declared in this connection:
"I had the impression that the SS men and those prisoners helping in unloading the other prisoners were anxious to see those who were still alive die, just to save themselves work." (XXI/31, Doc. NO-2331.)
Victor Abend testified that when he was transferred from Schoebnik to Auschwitz, he travelled in a freight car so crowded that it was practically impossible to lie down, that it carried no drinking water, nor did it have toilet facilities. The trip lasted 4 days during which time they were given no food.
• Page 1128
The United States Congressional Committee, inspecting Dachau, found a train of cars which had been used to bring prisoners into the camp:
"These cars were an assortment of odd boxcars, some of which could be locked, and some were the coal-car type. In each of them the floor of the car was covered with dead, emaciated bodies. In some of the cars there were more than enough to cover the floors. In size, these cars were of the small European type, which, when used for the movement of troops, would never accommodate more than 40 men. Nevertheless, the army officials in charge of this camp advised us that there were 50 of these cars in this one train and that at least 100 of these civilian prisoners had been jammed into each car — locked in — and they had been on the road for several days without food or water, and that approximately 3,000 of them were dead upon arrival and most of the others were in a dying condition. We saw many dead bodies on the ground. These prisoners had apparently crawled out of the cars and had died on the ground." (VI/78, Doc. L-159.)
Then there was the unique protest on the part of concentration camp commandants that between .5 and 10 percent of the Russian prisoners of war sent in to be executed arrived already half dead or dead altogether. Further, that on the hike between the railroad station and the camp, many collapsed from sheer exhaustion. The commandants complained that this state of affairs was very embarrassing because "the civilian population takes notice of these happenings." (V/176, Doc. NO-391.)
EXTERMINATION OF JEWS
When one comes to write on this subject the ink runs heavy, the words falter, and a sadness akin to a hopeless resignation enters the soul. How can one write about a planned and calculated killing of a human race? It is a concept so completely fantastic and so devoid of sense that one simply does not want to hear about it and is inclined to turn a deaf ear to such arrant nonsense. Barbarous tribes in the wilds of South Pacific jungles have fallen upon other tribes and destroyed their every member; in America, Indian massacres have wiped out caravans and destroyed whole settlements and communities; but that an enlightened people in the 20th century should set out to exterminate, one by one, another enlightened people, not in battle, not by frenzied mobbing, but by calculated gassing, burning, shooting, poisoning is simply blood-curdling fiction, fit companion for H. G. Well's chimera on the invasion from Mars.
• Page 1129
Adolf Eichmann, chief of the Jewish section of the Gestapo estimated that the Hitler-Himmler extermination policy of the Jews resulted in the liquidation of 6,000,000 Jews, of which 4,000,000 were killed in extermination institutions. The murder of 6,000,000 human beings is entirely beyond the capacity of man's imagination and one instinctively refuses to believe. But the curtain of incredulity has lifted and the armor of incomprehensibility no longer protects. The evidence is in and what was utter fantasy and a mere macabre playing with numbers, is proved fact. The figure 6,000,000 is written in digits of blood, and no matter which way one turns their crimson horror is upon one. Still, the cumulative shock of 6,000,000 dead is not felt unless one attends a murdering party of a small fraction of that ungraspable number. The great mass of the killings was done in gas chambers. Let an eye witness describe the operation of a gas chamber in Auschwitz:
"In 10 minutes the first train will arrive! And indeed, a few minutes later the first train came in from Lemberg [Lvov]. Forty-five cars, containing 6,700 persons; 1,450 of whom were already dead on their arrival. Behind the little barbed-wire openings, children, yellow, scared half to death, women men. The train arrives: 200 Ukrainians, forced to do this work, open the doors, and drive all the people out of the coaches with leather whips. Then, through a huge loudspeaker instructions are given: to undress completely, also to give up false teeth and glasses — some in the barracks, others right in the open air — to tie one's shoes together with a little piece of string handed everyone by a small Jewish boy 4 years of age, hand in all valuables and money at the window marked ‘Valuables’, without bond, without receipt. Then the women and girls go to the hairdresser, who cuts off their hair in one or two strokes, after which it vanished into huge potato bags ‘to be used for special submarine equipment, door mats, etc.’, as the SS Unterscharfuehrer on duty told me. Then, the march begins: right and left, barbed wire, behind, two dozen Ukrainians with guns. Led by a young girl of striking beauty they approach. With Police Captain Wirth, I stand right before the death chambers.
Completely naked they march by, men, women, girls, children, babies, even one-legged persons, all of them naked. In one corner, a strong SS man tells the poor devils, in a strong deep voice, ‘Nothing whatever will happen to you. All you have to do is to breathe deeply, it strengthens the lungs; this inhalation is a necessary measure against contagious diseases, it is a very good disinfectant!’ Asked what was to become of them, he answered, ‘Well, of course the men will have to work, building
• Page 1130
streets and houses. But the women do not have to. If they wish to, they can help in house or kitchen.’ Once more, a little bit I of hope for some of these poor people enough to make them march on without resistance to the death chambers. Most of them, though, know everything, the odor has given them a clear indication of their fate. And then they walk up the little staircase and see the truth! Mothers, nursemaids, with babies at their breasts, naked, lots of children of all ages, naked too; they hesitate, but they enter the gas chambers, most of them without a word, pushed by the others behind them, chased by the whips of the SS men. A Jewess of about 40 years of age, with eyes like torches, calls down the blood of her children on the heads of their murderers. Five lashes into her face, dealt by the whip of Police Captain Wirth himself, chases her into the gas chamber. Many of them say their prayers, others ask: who will give us the water for our death. Within the chambers, the SS press the people closely together; Captain Wirth had ordered: ‘Fill them up full.’ Naked men stand on the feet of the others. Seven to eight hundred crushed together in 25 square meters, in 45 cubic meters! The doors are closed. Meanwhile the rest of the transport, all naked, wait. Somebody says to me, ‘Naked, in winter! But they can die that way!’ * * * The answer was, ‘Well, that's just what they are here for!’ And at that moment I understood why it was called, ‘Foundation Heckenholt.’ Heckenholt was the man in charge of the Diesel engine, the exhaust gases of which were to kill these poor devils. SS Unterscharfuehrer Heckenholt tries to set the Diesel engine moving. But it does not start! Captain Wirth comes along. It is plain that he is afraid because I am a witness to this breakdown. Yes, indeed, I see everything and wait. Every thing is registered by my stopwatch. Fifty minutes, seventy minutes — the Diesel engine does not start! The people wait in their gas chambers. In vain. One can hear them cry. ‘Same as in a synagogue,’ says SS Sturmbannfuehrer, Professor Dr. Pfannenstiel, Professor for Public Health at the University of Marburg/Lahn, holding his ear close to the wooden door. Captain Wirth, furious, deals the Ukrainian, who is helping Heckenholt, 11 or 12 lashes in the face with his whip.
After 2 hours and 49 minutes — as registered by my stopwatch — the Diesel engine starts. Up to the moment the people in the four already filled chambers were alive, 4 times 750 persons in 4 times 45 cubic meters. Another 25 minutes go by. Many of the people, it is true, are dead at that point. One can see this through the little window through which the electric lamp reveals, for a moment, the inside of the chamber. After 28
• Page 1131
minutes only a few are living. After 32 minutes, finally all are dead! From the other side, Jewish workers open the wooden doors. Like stone statues the dead are still standing, there having been no room to fall or bend over. Though dead, the families can still be recognized; their hands still clasped. It is difficult to separate them in order to clear the chamber for the next load. * * * Two dozen workers are engaged in checking the mouths, opening them by means of iron hooks. 'Gold to the left, without gold to the right!' * * * Dentists with chisels tear out the gold teeth, bridges, or caps. In the center of everything, Captain Wirth. He is on familiar ground here. He hands me a large tin full of teeth and says, ‘Estimate for yourself the weight of gold! This is only from yesterday and the day before yesterday! And you would not believe what we find here every day! Dollars, diamonds, gold! But look for yourself!’" (Doc. 1442-PS.)
Who wrote this sleep-robbing horror, this unspeakably mournful tale? A Jew, a Pole, a non-Aryan? This view into one of the deepest furnaces of hell was written by an SS Lieutenant, Kurt Gerstein, attending at the execution because of his technical knowledge on poison gases and his familiarity with the technique of sterilization of clothing of deceased persons.
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess, commandant at the Auschwitz concentration camp from I May 1940 to 1 December 1943, must stand out individually as the greatest mass murderer in history. His eminence in wholesale slaughter, his distinction in multiplicitous killing, his supremacy in systematic massacre, must dwarf the fame of all killers from the beginning of time. In comparison to Hoess, Genghis Khan was a Sunday school boy, Torquemada an entertaining Micawber, and Ivan The Terrible, an innocuous, benevolent, old man. With complete self-assurance, Rudolf Hoess declared under oath that he personally supervised the executions at Auschwitz until 1 December 1943, and he estimated that up to that time, 2,500,000 prisoners were, "executed and exterminated there in the gas chambers and crematories."
"At least a further half million people died from hunger and sickness, which adds up to a total amount of about 3,000,000 deaths. This figure represents about 70 or 80 percent of all persons who were sent to Auschwitz as prisoners. The remaining were picked out and used for slave work for the industries located in and surrounding the concentration camp." Going into the details on this carnage, Hoess explained how he used a crystallized prusic [Prussic] acid which was thrown into the death chambers through a small opening:
"The older extermination camps, Belsec, Treblinka, and
• Page 1132
Wolzek had used monoxide gas. To exterminate 1,500 people between 5 and 7 cans of one kilo each of zyklon B were required in cold and humid weather."
Zyklon B gas was also used. Hoess calculated that during the time he was at Auschwitz, 10,000 cans had been purchased for this lethal use:
"This figure is arrived at by computing the number of 2 1/2 million gassed people and the consumption of an average of 6 cans for every 1,500 people."
Not all the Jews arriving at Auschwitz were executed. Those who seemed strong, healthy specimens were permitted to work. The selection could scarcely be called a scientific one. As the prisoners came off the transport a Hauptsturmfuehrer looked at them cursorily, and, with a movement of his right or left hand, indicated respectively death or life. A slight movement of the right hand and the newcomer was sent on his way to the gas chambers; a flick of the left hand and the newly arrived prisoner lived to agonize, and probably later die in a work gang. (XI/36, Doc. NO-1949.)
All youngsters under 16 years of age, all mothers with children and all those sick or weak were taken to the gas chambers. (XXI/26, Doc. NO-2368.)
What happened to the doomed ones is described by one who witnessed the operation:
"In Auschwitz there were 4 crematories, of which 1 and 2 were the large ones, and 3 and 4 the small ones. Upon their arrival at the crematory, the SS ordered these people (men, women, and children) to jump from the trucks and when this order was not obeyed fast enough, they were beaten with sticks and whips. The SS also had police dogs at their disposal which they set on these people. After being unloaded they were all obliged to undress entirely in the dressing room, and no difference was made between men and women. When they were undressed they were taken into the gas chamber, which was underground in the crematories 1 and 2. These gas chambers looked like large bathrooms; they were tiled, provided with showerbath installations, which, however, were not connected with the water supply. When all the people were in the gas chambers the outside doors, which were gas-tight, were closed.
SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Mengele, Tilo, and Klein, and their assistants, the noncommissioned officers of the medical service of the Waffen SS, threw cans of HCN gas through small barred windows into the gas chambers, after which the windows were closed gastight. After 3 or 4 minutes no sign of life appeared anymore from these gas chambers, in which in this manner a
• Page 1133
concentration of one hundred percent was obtained. After a security limit of ten minutes the gas chambers were aired and the doors opened. The corpses of the men, women, and children, murdered in this horrible manner, were carried away from the gas chambers by the Kommando, the so-called ‘Sonderkommando,’ consisting exclusively of Jews and taken to the furnaces where they were totally burnt by pairs. The possessions of these people were declared State property at the station. The clothes were transported to Germany, after being sorted and distributed among Germans who had lost their belongings through air raids. However, the SS men stole much of this `confiscated' property for their own use or to be used as means of payment on the black market." (XI/39, Doc. NO-1949.)
Heinrich Neumann, an inmate of Auschwitz, stated that in his estimation between 1940 and 1944 four million were executed and that, on certain days, the deaths reached the number of 20,000. (XI/79, Doc. 2222-PS.)
The United States Congressional Committee which inspected concentration camps in April 1945, reported on the facilities for killing which they found at Dachau. The gas chamber there was built of concrete, measured 20 by 20 feet, with a ceiling of some 10 feet in height. The supply of gas was controlled by means of two valves on the outer walls, and beneath the valves was a small glass-covered peephole through which the operator could watch the victims die, 100 to a gassing. Flanking the gas chamber were two warerooms measuring approximately 30 by 50 feet:
"At the time we visited the camp these warerooms were piled high with dead bodies. In one of the rooms the bodies were thrown in an irregular heap. In the other room they were neatly stacked like cordwood. The irregular pile of bodies was perhaps 10 feet high, covering most of the floor space. All of them were naked. It was quite evident that the daily death rate at Dachau, by execution and otherwise, far exceeded the daily capacity of the crematory to dispose of the bodies. The stench indicated that some of them had been there for several days." (VI/79, Doc. L-159.) In the spring of 1942 an extermination camp was established at Treblinka. It contained 10 death chambers and opened up for business in the early autumn of 1943. Death was inflicted here by gas and steam, as well as by electric current. Behind the death building, and separated from the rest of the camp, stood the barracks and kitchen for the grave diggers. But as the executions grew in numbers mass graves were dug out by motor-driven machines and not by hand and shovels as in the beginning.
• Page 1134
While the actual execution operation was handled by the SS, the menial services had to be performed by the inmates themselves.
"The unloading of the trucks, stripping of the victims, and I sorting out of their clothes and shoes (Lumpensortierung), the emptying of the death chambers and the burying of the bodies. When a new transport arrived some of the Jews were picked out to do this work so long till they broke down morally under the impression of this organized and mechanized mass murder. Then they had to dig their own graves and take up their position at them, whereupon they were shot one by one by Sauer, personally. Their last duty before dying was to push the body of the preceding victim into its own grave. (XVIII/30, 31, Doc. 3311-PS.) * * * All victims had to strip off their clothes and shoes, which were collected afterwards, whereupon all victims, women and children first, were driven into the death chambers. Those too slow or too weak to move quickly were driven on by rifle butts, by whipping and kicking, often by Sauer himself. Many slipped and fell, the next victims pressed forward and stumbled over them. Small children were simply thrown inside. After being filled up to capacity the chambers were hermetically closed and steam was let in. In a few minutes all was over. The Jewish menial workers had to remove the bodies from the platform and to bury them in mass graves. By and by, as new transports arrived, the cemetery grew extending in eastern direction." (XVIII/31, Doc. 3311-PS.) It is estimated that 700,000 Jews were killed at Treblinka. The exact figures are impossible since the Germans kept no records of the Jews deported to this camp. (XVIII/31, Doc. 3311-PS.)
Kurt Gerstein, who described the killings at Auschwitz [Belsec], also visited Treblinka:
"The next day, Captain Wirth's car took us to Treblinka, about 75 miles NNE of Warsaw. The installations of this death center differed scarcely from those at Belsec, but they were still larger. There were 8 gas chambers and whole mountains of clothes and underwear about 35-40 meters high. Then, in our ‘honor’ a banquet was given, attended by all of the employees of the institution. The Obersturmbannfuehrer Professor Pfannenstiel, MD, Professor Hygiene at the University of Marburg/Lahn, made a speech: ‘Your task is a great duty, a duty so useful and necessary.’ To me alone he talked of this institution in terms of ‘beauty of the task, humane cause,’ and to all of them, ‘looking at the bodies of these Jews one understands the greatness of your good work!’ The dinner in itself was rather simple, but by order of Himmler the employees of this branch received as much as they wanted as far as butter
• Page 1135
meat, alcohol, etc. were concerned. When we left we were offered several kilograms of butter and a large number of bottles of liqueur." (XVIII/53, Doc. 1553-PS.)
When the gassings first began, just like any other mechanical operation, the facilities were a little primitive. Instead of the highly efficient, technically perfect concrete, steel, and tile gas chambers, two old farm buildings were used at Auschwitz-Birkenau. These two buildings had been constructed by the SS construction office:
"The windows were bricked up, the partitioning walls taken out and a special door put in, which shut the chamber airtight. The space was made to hold three hundred persons. The prisoners had to undress in a barrack situated next to the gas chamber, and were then taken into the gas chamber. After the doors were closed the gas (zyclon B) was thrown by three SS men through slits which could be shut, into the gas chambers. These SS men wore gas masks and were trained in the use of poison gas." (XXI/26, 27, Doc. NO-2368.)
The regulations prescribed that a physician had to be present at each gassing as a safeguard for the SS personnel!
"After 5 minutes the initial loud clamor and groaning had stopped. After a further 25 minutes the doors were opened and the corpses of the dead taken by a detail of CC inmates wearing gas masks to the open. The dental gold was removed under the supervision of a Unterscharfuehrer who had been assigned specially to the job by Dr. Lolling, then the corpses were loaded on lorries, and taken to graves which had been dug by a prisoners' detail. After the corpses had been buried the gas chambers were cleaned and were then ready again for the next transport. The clothing was collected, brought to the camp and taken over by the Sturmbannfuehrer Burger." (XXI/27, Doc. NO-2368.) Witness Victor Abend testified this procedure was not entirely satisfactory because many of the people were not killed and then it became necessary to throw them into the cremating fire while still alive. The cremating process was also an improvised one. Holes were dug into the ground and filled with wood, gas was poured on the wood, and the bodies then placed in the ensuing conflagration. (Tr. p. 259.)
This system not only had various defects, but with the increase in business, more up-to-date methods were required. The trend of modernity toward mechanization and assembly line method was not overlooked even in this most modern of achievements — genocide — a business so novel that a new name had to be coined for it. Genocide, the scientific extermination of a race. Friedrich
• Page 1136
Entress, camp physician at Auschwitz, continues with his narrative:
"The reason for the new construction of gas chambers and crematories was the increasing number of transports. The new crematories were built in such a manner that the complete process of liquidation could take place in one building. The prisoners were first taken to the dressing rooms and then to the gas chambers. The new gas chambers had properly constructed chutes through which the gas was let in and had a modern ventilation system. Adjacent to the gas chambers the crematories were situated, so that the crematories could carry out the liquidation of the prisoners in an assembly line manner (laufendes Band)." (XXI/27, Doc. NO-2368.)
And then the inevitable hardening of the heart and the callousness of feeling to mass human butchery which in time became as casual as the killing of beasts in an up-to-date abattoir:
"I am of the opinion that those participating in the gassings became a willing tool, under the pressure of the system prevalent in concentration camps, and the impressions made on them during the gassings by which one can explain that such actions were possible at all." (XXI/29, Doc. NO-2368.)
Several of the defendants on trial in this case testified that although they had visited Auschwitz and immediate vicinity, they did not know, nor did they learn anything of the mass exterminations taking place there. Gerhard Wiebeck, a former SS man and so-called war representative, made various trips to Auschwitz where a huge cloud of smoke, which could be seen for miles around, hung over the concentration camp. He was told by a member of the Reich criminal police and judicial officers of the concentration camp that, "the gassing of prisoners in Auschwitz was no secret." (XXI/32, Doc. NO-2331.)
Some efforts were made to hide from the doomed inmates what was awaiting them. Artificial trees were erected around the crematories and the gas chambers. But the waiting ones could, nonetheless, hear the screams of their wretched predecessors. So a method — the SS were resourceful — was devised to conceal the screams. A music camouflage was introduced:
"At that time the children were burned on big piles of wood. The crematories could not work at the time, and therefore, the people were just burned in open fields with those grills, and also children were burned among them. Children were crying helplessly and that is why camp administration ordered that an orchestra be made by a hundred inmates, and should play. They played very loud all the time. They played the Blue Danube or Rosamunde; so that even the people in the city of
• Page 1137
Auschwitz could not hear the screams. Without the orchestra they would have heard the screams of horror; there would have been horrible screams. The people two kilometers from there could even hear these screams; namely, that came front the transports of children. The children were separated from their parents, and then they were put to section III camp. Maybe the number of children was several thousand." (Tr. pp. 388, 389.)
In August 1944 some of the inmates rose in rebellion and destroyed one of the gas chambers. It did not prevent their being gassed, of course, and it brought about a horrifying sequel which, could they have anticipated it, would in itself have stayed their indignant hands. The remaining three gas chambers continued to work, but one day they were being used for adults, and there was on hand a batch of children to be exterminated. The SS, known for their quick wittedness in solving any trying problem, simply solved this one by burning the children alive.
But they were not entirely devoid of feeling in the execution of this rather nasty job:
"When one of these SS people sort of had pity with the children, he took the child and beat the head against the stone first before putting it on the pile of fire and wood so that the child lost consciousness." (Tr. p. 389.)
The general practice, however, was simply to throw the tots into the flames. The procedure was simple:
"They used to put a sheet of wood, then the whole thing was sprinkled with gasoline, then wood again, and gasoline and wood, and gasoline — and then people were placed on there. Thereafter the whole thing was lit" (T/389.)
Several thousand children were burned alive at this time. (T/389.)
As a variation to this entire macabre performance, the assassins now introduced the murder van technique. The victims were gathered in a group and informed they were to be taken to another locality for resettlement. The van drew up and the families were loaded aboard.
"Then the doors were closed and the gas streamed in through the starting of the vehicles. The victims died within 10 to 15 minutes. The cars were then driven to the burial place, where the corpses were taken out and buried." (XVIII/23, Doc. 2620-PS.)
At Mauthausen concentration camp transport vans were fitted up in such a manner that Zyclon B could be introduced while the vehicle was in motion. In this way no time was lost. The van picked up prisoners at Mauthausen, passed them on the way to
• Page 1138
Gusen, where they were unloaded and cremated. At Gusen another load of prisoners was picked up, gassed on the journey back to Mauthausen and there cremated in the crematory awaiting them. (V/180, Doc. 499-PS.)
Germany was fighting a war for its very existence. Leaving apart the origin of the conflict, forgetting for the moment whether from Germany's point of view the war was just or unjust, the fact remained that after Stalingrad every resource of raw material and blood was needed to save Germany itself from invasion and destruction. By February 1943, it was evident to every person in Germany above the mental age of 10, that Germany was fighting a war for survivorship, fighting on the actual brink of total catastrophe. And yet, while teetering on that edge, the very strength needed to hold on was dissipated in the maniacal execution of a maniacal hate against a people who had in no way declared war against them. The direction of many combat troops sorely needed on the battlefield were diverted on this insane mission of extermination. Incalculable manpower was killed off, property of every description was destroyed — every consideration remained unconsidered as against this insanity to wipe out a defenseless race.
Oswald Pohl, on the witness stand, attempted to defend his position on the Jews by saying that he had not opposed the Jews prior to the war, but when the war came he had to decide between Germany and the Jews, and he chose Germany. But it was not apparent that there was a necessity for such a decision. A German report on indiscriminate Jewish massacring in the Ukraine declared:
"The attitude of the Jewish population was anxious — obliging from the beginning. They tried to avoid everything that might displease the German administration. That they hated the German administration and army inwardly goes without saying and cannot be surprising. However, there is no proof that Jewry as a whole or even to a greater part was implicated in acts of sabotage. Surely, there were some terrorists or saboteurs among them just as among the Ukrainians. But it cannot be said that the Jews as such represented a danger to the German armed forces. The output produced by Jews who, of course, were prompted by nothing but the feeling of fear, was satisfactory to the troops and the German administration." (XVIII/18-19, Doc. 3257-PS.)
In March 1945 the extermination program was halted, not because conscience long lost in the jungle of greed and arrogance had caught up with the Nazis, but because the labor supply had become so critical that thought had to be given even to keeping
• Page 1139
alive a few Jews. According to Gluecks, chief of department [division] D of WVHA: "There were still 15,000 Jews still alive." Himmler decided he could employ them also in another capacity. He could "use these people as the trump card in negotiations with Count Bernadotte", which Himmler thought at the time might save his life.
THE WARSAW ACTION
By 10 November 1940 the Government General of Poland had completed its announced intention of confining within one circumscribed area all the Jews of Warsaw. Separated from the rent of the city by walls, partitions, bricked-up doors and windows, the 400,000 Jews enclosed therein, looked forward to a life of slavery, imprisonment, degradation, misery and suffering. Deprived of their property, citizenship and freedom, compelled to work without compensation or remuneration of any kind, life, had become desolate and unmeaningful. Yet there was still life. Crowded as they were into apartments and rooms not large enough for one-fifth their number, yet they could still live. They still had the association of their endeared ones, of their friends, and in each heart burned always the lamp of hope. Hope that this injustice could not go on forever; that those who had tortured and imprisoned them could not possibly always be triumphant. The world was in arms against these outlaws. The lamp burned brightly. It lighted up the dark days and the Cimmerian nights. It was enough that these prisoners could keep the flame of life burning, and the day would come when at last this nightmare would be over.
But in the summer of 1942 the light was extinguished for 75 percent of the population. Of the 400,000, 310,322 were taken away by the SS under the policy of "resettlement", and in January 1943, 6,500 more were "resettled".
Shortly thereafter Himmler visited Warsaw and ordered the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto.
It was assumed that the remaining inmates of the ghetto, some 60 to 70 thousand, would submit docilely to Himmler's orders, but they did not. In a resistance which must take its place among the legendary heroisms of the ages, these helpless and defenseless people fought and left a monument of courage and selfless glory which loses none of its luster in being compared to Thermopylae, Balaklava, and the Alamo. And by the same token, their aggressor assassins have left a record of infamy and cowardice which does not need to lower its black flag of shame to any Attila, Ghengis
• Page 1140
Khan, oriental despot, or head hunter chief in the wilds of the most savage jungle.
The record of the battle of Warsaw was written by the SS itself. Since the defenders all perished, not one of the oppressed was left to tell his story, nor is there any document to relate the tortures they suffered in those 27 days of unmitigated hell. SS General Stroop, in charge of the operation, kept a day-to-day account of the action, and it is from his reports that we are able to reconstruct this epic of suffering and death, and yet imperishable glory although generally unknown to the world.
When General Stroop first learned that the occupants of the ghetto refused to give themselves up, he expected that with the forces at his command he could break down all resistance in 1 day, certainly 3 days would be ample. At his disposal he had over 2,000 men and 36 officers distributed among cavalry, Panzer outfits, Wehrmacht, Waffen SS, flame throwers, police and Gestapo. For ordnance he had in addition to the usual rifles, pistols, machine guns, and hand grenades, heavy armored cars, one 10 centimeter howitzer, one flame thrower, three 2.20 centimeter AA guns, at least one tank and engineering equipment of all kinds with demolition units. All this, to move on civilian men, women, and children, possessed only of a determination to hold inviolate their freedom and armed only with such weapons as they could manufacture themselves and pick up here and there.
With ingenuity and foresight they had collected from the various plants in which they had been employed enough chemicals to construct the so-called Molotov Cocktail (bottles filled with explosive substances, corked with a lighted candle). They were able to put together hand grenades, they improvised rockets, they fashioned missiles. Thus, on the very first day, 16 April, when Stroop attacked with his tanks and two armored cars, he was considerably surprised to find this heavy armor thrown back:
"When we invaded the ghetto for the first time, the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars, by a well-prepared concentration of fire. When I ordered a second attack, about 0600 hours, I distributed the units, separated from each other by indicated lines, and charged them with combing out the whole . of the ghetto, each unit for a certain part. Although firing commenced again, we now succeeded in combing out the blocks according to plan. The enemy was forced to retire from the roofs and elevated bases to the basements, dugouts and sewers. I ordered to construct a barrier dam below the ghetto and filled with water, but the Jews frustrated this plan to a great
• Page 1141
extent by blowing up the turning off valves. Late the first day we encountered rather heavy resistance, but it was quick:; broken by a special raiding party." (XX/10, Doc. 1061-PS.) In a spirit of defiance which would have done credit to a duly organized and armed unit, the besieged hoisted flags above their home fortification, the Jewish and Polish standards.
Throughout Stroop's report the defending forces are never referred to as human beings. They are always Jews, subhumans, Polish bandits, gangsters, or terrorists. Although the report writer constantly characterizes the Jews as cowards, he describes deeds which are performed only by the daring and brave who sell their lives and their honor dearly. One item in the SS General's report reads:
"Whereas it had been possible during the first days to catch considerable numbers of the Jews, who are cowards by nature it became more and more difficult during the second half of the action to capture the bandits and Jews. Over and over again new battle groups consisting of 20 to 30 or more Jewish fellows 18 to 25 years of age, accompanied by a corresponding number of women, kindled new resistance. These battle groups were under orders to put up armed resistance to the last and if necessary to escape arrest by committing suicide." (XX/12, Doc. 1061-PS.) We see no poltroonery in that type of conduct. The report then immediately relates an episode of intrepidity which should have moved the SS forces to admiration of a brave foe if any chivalry at all had coursed through their veins:
"One such battle group succeeded in mounting a truck by ascending from a sewer in the so-called Presta, and in escaping with it (about 30 to 35 bandits). One bandit who had arrived with this truck exploded 2 hand grenades, which was the agreed signal for the bandits and Jews — there were Polish bandits among these gangs armed with carbines, small arms, and in one case a light machine gun, — mounted the truck and drove away in an unknown direction." (XX/12, Doc. 1061-PS.)
The attacking forces now brought their artillery into play, so that with roofs crashing and walls toppling about them the defenders were compelled to take to dugouts and to sewers to continue their resistance. The SS men pursued them into these refuges by flooding the sewers, introducing smoke candles and pouring creosote into the water. Each day the besiegers captured large numbers of the Jews and liquidated them on the spot or sent them to the extermination center at Treblinka, trains being in waiting every day for this macabre trip. But at no time was there any indication on the part of the besieged to surrender
• Page 1142
themselves. Dugouts were blown up, and the smashed masonry and falling debris took its uncounted toll, but the white flag never rose above the fighting and dying defenders:
"As in the preceding days, uncounted Jews were buried in the blown-up dugouts and, as can be observed time and again, burned with this bag of Jews today. We have, in my opinion, caught a very considerable part of the bandits and lowest elements of the ghetto. Intervening darkness prevented immediate liquidation. I am going to try to obtain a train for T II tomorrow. Otherwise liquidation will be carried out tomorrow * * *. (XX/26, Doc. 1061-PS.) In a number of cases the inmates of the dugouts were hardly in a condition, when the dugout had been blown up, to crawl to the surface. The captured Jews report that many of the inmates of the dugouts became insane from the heat, the smoke, and the explosions." (XX/28, Doc. 1061-PS.)
The report is filled with complaints about the unfairness of the subhuman adversary:
"The whole operation is rendered more difficult by the cunning way in which the Jews and bandits act; for instance, we discovered that the hearses which were used to collect the corpses lying around, at the same time bring living Jews to the Jewish cemetery, and thus they are enabled to escape from the ghetto. Now this way of escape also is barred by continuous control of the hearses." (XX/24, Doc. 1061-PS.)
The report continuously calls the defenders cowards and subhumans and continues narrating deeds of grandiose courage and deathless devotion to the cause of freedom:
"All the Jews caught today were forcibly pulled out of dugouts. Not a single one gave himself up voluntarily, after his dugout had been opened. A considerable part of the Jews caught were pulled out of the sewers. In one case the engineers laid a strong concentrated charge and had to proceed to an adjoining entrance where they had something to do. In the meantime a Jew from the sewer removed the fuse from the concentrated charge, and appropriated the charge. In the further course of this operation we succeeded in catching this Jew, still in possession of the concentrated charge." (XX/35, Doc. 1061-PS.) The battle had now developed into fierce encounters at close quarters. "Some of the Jews fired pistols from both hands." A few captured Jewesses carried pistols concealed in their bloomers which resulted in an order that "every Jew and bandit will be ordered, from today on, to strip completely for the search." (XX/37.)
• Page 1143
Though "cowardly", a Jewess, upon being arrested in a dugout "quick as lightning put her hand under her shirt, as many others had done, and fetched from her bloomers a ‘pineapple’ hand grenade, drew the safety-catch, threw the grenade among the men who were searching her, and jumped quickly to cover." (XX/49, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Astounded and bewildered by the resistance offered by the defenders, Himmler, on 23 April, issued orders to complete the combing out of the Warsaw ghetto "with the greatest severity and tenacity." General Stroop now attacked with flame-throwers and other incendiary means, setting fire to the ghetto which burst into a sea of flames:
"Not infrequently, the Jews stayed in the burning building, until, because of the heat and the fear of being burned alive they preferred to jump down from the upper stories after having thrown mattresses and other upholstered articles into the street from the burning buildings. With their bones broken, they still tried to crawl across the street into blocks of buildings which had not yet been set on fire or were only partly in flames." (XX/13, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Stroop congratulated himself on the excellence of the strategy:
"Our setting the block on fire achieved the result in the course of the night that these Jews whom we had not been able to find despite all our search operations left their hideouts under the roofs, in the cellars, and elsewhere, and appeared at the outside of the buildings, trying to escape the flames. Masses of them--entire families--were already aflame and jumped from the windows or endeavored to let themselves down by means of sheets tied together or the like. Steps had been taken so that these Jews as well as the remaining ones were liquidated at once." (XX/21, Doc. 1061-PS.)
But there were some who preferred the yellow face of the devouring flames to the black countenance of the waiting SS:
"Over and over again we observed that Jews and bandits, despite the danger of being burned alive, preferred to return into the flames rather than risk being caught by us." (XX/25, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Others of this "cowardly" race "fired their arms until the last moment and then jumped into the street, sometimes from as far up as the fourth floor." (XX/30, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Day by day Stroop reported the advance made by his flame throwers, and never did he fail to add his word of deprecation:
"During today's operation several blocks of buildings were burned down. This is the only and final method which forces
• Page 1144
this trash and subhumanity to the surface." (XX/28, Doc. 1061-PS.)
And then summing up the day's operation:
"1,330 Jews pulled out of dugouts and immediately destroyed, 362 Jews killed in battle. Caught today altogether: 1,722 Jews. This brings the total of Jews caught to 29,186. Moreover, it is very probable that numerous Jews have perished in the 13 dug outs blown up today and in the conflagrations. At the time of writing not one of the Jews caught still remains within Warsaw. The scheduled transport to T II had no success (note of translator: This probably meant that no Jews were available for regular transport to the extermination camp)." (XX/29, Doc. 1061-PS.) Stroop thought that some of the Jews were most unkind. They would jump "from the burning windows and balconies, abusing Germany and the Fuehrer and cursing the German soldiers." Did he assume that they would jump heiling Hitler? (XX/30.) The unreasonableness and persistence of the defenders was quite irritating to Stroop:
"If the Jews are requested to leave their dugout voluntarily, they hardly ever obey; they can only be forced to do so by the use of smoke candles." (XX/38, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Not until the blocks of buildings "were well aflame and were about to collapse," did the Jews emerge, "forced to do so by the flames and the smoke.
" "Time and again the Jews try to escape even through burning buildings. Innumerable Jews whom we saw on the roofs during the conflagration perished in the flames. Others emerged from the upper stories in the last possible moment and were only able to escape death in the flames by jumping down. Today we caught a total of 2,283 Jews, of whom 204 were shot and innumerable Jews were destroyed in dugouts and in the flames. The sum total of Jews caught rises to 44,089." (XX/38, Doc. 1061-PS.) The battle began 16 April. As late as 8 May Stroop reports, "a number of sub-humans, bandits, and terrorists still remain in the dugouts where heat has become intolerable by reason of the fires." (XX/42, Doc. 1061-PS.)
But the brave Stroop, with his tanks, armored cars, and howitzers, pitting the ordnance of a modern army against a few men, women, and children in caves, dugouts, and smoldering ruins, proclaims on 8 May, "the undersigned is resolved not to terminate the large scale operation until the last Jew has been destroyed." (XX/43, Doc. 1061-PS.)
The SS report is accompanied by a series of photographs show-
• Page 1145
ing various phases of the battle. Scene after scene depicts flaming buildings, broken-boned men and women lying on the streets unable to move, children holding up their hands in terror, victims lining against the wall to be shot. And yet in this ultimate catastrophe the few remaining live ones still refuse to bow their heads to their oppressors so that General Stroop, the valiant, reports on 10 May, the twenty-fourth day of crimson, lopsided battle, "the resistance offered by the Jews has not weakened today. Up to this moment the defenders had lost 51,313. (XX/44-45, Doc. 1061-PS.) ]
On 16 May, at 20:15 hours, the Germans blew up the synagogue and silence settled over Warsaw. The large-scale action had terminated.
Not one of the defenders was alive. Stroop reported:
"Only through the continuous and untiring work of all involved did we succeed in catching a total of 56,065 Jews whose extermination can be proved. To this should be added the number of Jews who lost their lives in explosions or fires but whose numbers could not be ascertained." (XX/14, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Aside from the great moral victory achieved by the SS in this intrepid action, they were able to report a few practical returns as, for instance, 5 to 6 million Zlotys, a considerable amount of foreign currency including $14,300 in paper, $9,200 in gold and "large amounts of valuables (rings, chains, watches, etc.)." The report closes with:
"With the exception of 8 buildings, (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for working parties) the former ghetto has been completely destroyed. Where blowing up was not carried out, only partition walls are still standing." (XX/54, Doc. 1061-PS.)
Running hand in hand with the extermination program, and definitely part of it, was the appropriation of all Jewish property, personal, real, and mixed. Every live Jew gave up his house, his land, his money, all his personal property. Every dead Jew gave up not only all this, including his watch, fountain pen, jewelry, clothing, and shoes, but also the gold teeth and fillings torn from his mouth after his murder. In some instances the dental gold was removed prior to the killings.
The property taken ran the entire gamut from estates, factories, and houses, down to the last little item of baby shoes. Nothing was omitted from this gigantic thieving program: everything from automobiles and locomotives down to the last suit of underwear was stripped from the defenseless and unoffending Jew. The thievery was on a scale not only to shame the fabulous pirates of the Spanish Main, but to stagger imagination and
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23712
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
• Page 1146
prostrate credulity. Were it not for the accurate and full records kept by the Nazis themselves, no one could believe that so vast a plan of thievery could be devised and carried into execution. Although no Nazi, alive or dead, has ever answered the question as to why the Jew had to die, there is no lack of evidence that his death enriched his captor, fattened his oppressor, and filled the blood-stained pocket of his assassin. All those whom the Nazi hierarchy represented detested, hated, and loathed the Jews, but nonetheless they carried their watches, wrote with their fountain pens, wore their clothing, and inserted the gold taken from the deceased Jews into their own mouths.
In June of 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, chief of Security Police and SD, met his death near the village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia at the hands of Czech patriots. The Nazi hierarchy made of Heydrich a sort of martyr and thus applied his name to an action which was a carefully devised plan to make the Jew pay with his property, his labor, his goods, and his life, for a deed with which he was in no way connected. This does not mean that the Jew would not have been equally destroyed even though Heydrich had continued to live, but the death of this Nazi bigwig gave name to an action worthy of the nefarious character whose fetid memory it perpetrated.
The Action Reinhardt was divided into four branches —
1. Evacuation of all Jews to concentration camps, labor camps, and extermination centers.
2. Utilization of their manpower.
3. Utilization of their property.
4. The recovering of hidden valuables and real estate. (XIX/22, Doc. NO-057.)
We saw how all Jews removed from their homes for transportation to concentration camps were ordered to take with them all their belongings. Under the cruel implication that this was done so that the owner could have an eye on his possessions, the Nazis were able to gather in, as if with a rake, all the Jews’ property without even having to look for it.
As the Jew arrived at Auschwitz, or any other extermination camp, he turned in for "safe keeping" everything he carried with him except the clothes on his back. Before entering the "shower room" he removed his clothing and then after the lethal bath some sturdy Nazi apprentice dentist tore out his gold fillings.
As the exterminations were accomplished with modern assembly line methods, so were up-to-date business methods used in assemblying the property, cataloguing, and distributing it. On 26 September 1942, defendant Frank notified the chief of the SS garrison at Lublin that he was to send all confiscated
• Page 1147
moneys to the Reich Bank, paid that all foreign exchange, rare metals, jewelry, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, dental gold, and scrap gold were to be consigned to the WVHA which would in turn deliver it to the Reich Bank. Watches, clocks, fountain pens, mechanical pens, flashlights, wallets, and purses, were to be repaired and delivered to front line troops on a cash basis. Men's clothing and men's underwear, women's clothing women's underwear, including footwear of all types, children's clothing and children's underwear, were to be turned over to the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle "against payment."
"Underwear of pure silk is to be handed over to the Reich Ministry of Economics.
Every type of commodity imaginable was included in this wholesale looting expedition: featherbeds, quilts, woolen blankets, cloth for suits, shawls, umbrellas, walking sticks, thermos-flasks, ear-flaps, baby carriages, combs, handbags, leather belts, shopping baskets, tobacco pipes, sun glasses, mirrors, table knives, forks and spoons, suitcases, knapsacks, bed sheets, bed linen, pillows, towels, wiping cloths and tablecloths.
Spectacles and eye glasses of every description were to be handed over to the medical office for utilization, although spectacles with gold frames were to be separated from the mass so that the frames could be utilized as rare metals.
Valuable furs of all kinds, raw and cured, ordinary furs, lamb, hare, and rabbit skins — everything — (nothing was discarded or lost) were included in this net which drew up from the sea of thievery all the possessions of a condemned and doomed race.
There was just a little evidence of self-consciousness in this brigandage in the desire to not make too evident the source of the loot. Accordingly Frank's order contained the injunction: "It has to be strictly observed, that the Jewish Star is removed from all garments and outer garments which are to be delivered." (XVIII/87, Doc. NO-724.)
On 19 October 1943, the execution of the Action Reinhardt was completed and SS General Globus [Globocnik] asked Himmler for a number of Iron Crosses to be presented to the worthy persons for their meritorious accomplishment in this important task.
The accompanying report on the loot read:
"Valuables from the ‘Reinhardt Operation’ have been handed in at the SS WVHA Berlin for transmission to the Reich Bank or to the Reich Ministry of Economy as follows:
a. RM, total value RM 53,013,133.51
b. Foreign currency, in notes, from all main countries of the earth (particularly the half million dollars are noteworthy) total value RM 1,452,904.65
• Page 1148
c. Foreign currency in coined gold, total value RM 843,802.75
d. Precious metals (about 1,800 kg gold and about 10,000 silver in ingots) total value RM 5,353,943.00
e. Other valuables such as jewels, watches, glasses, etc. (in particular, the number of watches, about 16,000 watches in working condition and about 51,000 watches in need of repair, is noteworthy; they have been placed at the disposal of the troops) RM 26,089,800.00
f. About 1,000 boxcars of textiles, total value RM 13,294,400.00
in total RM 100,047,983.91
"About 1,000 boxcars of textiles are still in stock, and about 50 percent of above-mentioned other valuables, which still must be counted and appraised. It should be stressed that the valua- tions given above have been established on the basis of official exchange rates and prices, commercial values are, however, much higher, for instance when selling precious stones or metals abroad, as the flight into fired values is greater there than in our country. Moreover, sales abroad bring us foreign Cur rency." (XVIII/92, Doc. NO-060.)
On 30 November 1943 Himmler acknowledged the report and said to Globus [Globocnik]:
"I express to you my thanks and gratitude for the great and unique merits you have earned by the performance of operation Reinhardt for the benefit of the entire German nation." (XVIII/98, Doc. NO-058.)
So as to remove the stigma of Jewish origin and the stains of the homicidal blood, an office for Germanization was set up to Germanize the clothing taken from the murdered Jews. A report indicated the itemization:
Men's old clothing 97,000 sets
Women's old clothing 76,000 sets
Women's silk underwear 89,000 sets
Total: 34 cars
Rags 400 cars 2,700,000kg
Bed feathers 130 cars270,000kg
Women's hair 1 car 3,000kg
Scrap material 5 cars 19,000kg.
Total: 536 cars
• Page 1149
The same report goes on in further itemization of clothing whose quantity reaches a bulk which filled a total of 825 freight cars. (XVIII/130, Doc. NO-1257.)
Ever loath not to lose a single stolen pair of eye glasses, Himmler wrote Pohl under date of 15 January 1943:
"I again request SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl to arrange a written agreement with the Minister for Economics regarding each individual category; whether it is a question of watch-glasses of which hundreds of thousands — perhaps even millions — are lying there, and which for practical purposes could be distributed to the German watchmakers or whether it is question of turning-lathes, which we need for our workshops, and which we can either have legally given to us by the Minister for Economics or buy from him. Or whether it is a question of sewing machines to which the same thing applies, or common furs or superior ladies' furs. I believe, on the whole we cannot be too exact." (XVIII/131, Doc. NO-1257.)
In an attempt to cheat their own knowledge and give the thinnest veneer of justification to their wholesale thievery, the SS referred to this property taken from the Jews as "Jewish concealed and stolen goods."
On 13 May 1943, defendant Frank reported that up to 30 April 1943, 94,000 men's watches, 33,000 ladies' watches, 25,000 fountains pens, etc., had been delivered. He suggested that the repaired watches be distributed among combat divisions and concentration camp SS guards, and asked Himmler what was to done with the 33,000 ladies' watches.
Also what was to be done with —
"a. Some hundreds numismatically very valuable old gold and silver coins (partly from the period prior to the christian era) of high collector's value.
b. Four big boxes with valuable stamp collections, among them complete collections of an individual value of 40,000 marks and more.
c. About 5,000 watches of most expensive Swiss make, in pure gold and platinum cases, partly fitted with precious stones (golden watches of inferior make or of clumsy or ostentatious style were already handed to the Reich Bank for melting down.)" (XVIII/137, Doc. NO-2003.)
One does not know whether the author of the Reinhardt report was indulging in some grisly humor when he said that what was seized and taken under Action Reinhardt was "accounted for and delivered with the greatest expediency and without defrauding." (XIX/27, Doc. NO-059.)
• Page 1150
In accounting for miscellaneous items the report states:
"Valuable furniture and household items were reconditioned and mostly given to racial German settlers for use. But German agencies and army agencies got also such furniture as a loan against issuance of a bill. Items of minor value were either destroyed or given to the population as premiums for good harvests, etc. Efforts were made to dismantle parts such as locks, hinges, and the like from items which could not be used, and to use them again." (XIX/30, Doc. NO-059.)
"The total value of these items amounts to approximately 180,000,000 RM according to the attached list. The lowest value was taken as a basis so that the total amount is probably twice as high, apart from the value of the received items which are short, such as textiles of which more than 1,900 wagons had been delivered to German industry," (XIX/29, Doc. NO-059.) We have seen that one phase of the Action Reinhardt emphasized the utilization of all confiscated, Jewish, industrial enterprises. A company (the Ostindustrie G.m.b.H.) was formed in March 1943, to run and exploit these industries. The stated object of the organization was "(1) to utilize the working capacity of the Jews by erecting industrial plants in 'connection with Jewish labor camps; (2) to take over commercial enterprises which had been maintained by the Higher SS and Police Leaders in the Government General; (3) to confiscate all Jewish machinery and raw materials; (4) to utilize all former Jewish machines, tools, and merchandise which had been transferred to non-Jewish ownership."
OSTI worked with a variety of branches of trade and industry: "Thus glass works were operated in Wolomin, a peat cutting plant was established in the marshes near Lublin, brushes were manufactured, a big textile factory was taken over, an iron processing plant was erected." (XIX/67, Doc. NO-1271.)
An equipment plant was operated in Oradin where uniforms were made, and shoes and civilian clothes repaired:
"When planning the main structure of the ‘OSTI’, the main emphasis was laid on the foundry in Lublin. The Jews confined to the Lublin labor camp were to be employed here for the armament production in an iron foundry. The construction of the works was begun in August 1943. After the burning of the Warsaw ghetto the machines, which were still serviceable, were brought to Lublin, were repaired and installed again. Machines from the Bialystok ghetto were also brought to Lublin. A very small part of the production was begun still in October
• Page 1151
1943. The main work was to commence in the middle of November." (XIX/73, Doc. NO-1271.)
OSTI would have been a most profitable organization for the Reich, but with the liquidation of the Jews there remained no manpower to run the industries, and the operation folded up in November 1943. (XIX/69, Doc. NO-1271.)
Aside from the desecration of the body which must fill every normal-minded person with revulsion, the extraction of dental gold from the deceased concentration camp inmates derived its criminality from the fact that it was, in a good percentage of the cases, premeditated larceny. Prisoners were required to go to the hospital, ostensibly for examination and treatment of their teeth, but in reality so that a record could be made as to whether they had gold in their mouths or not.
"If he had gold in his mouth he was registered carefully and after he died he had to pay the gold from his mouth for the last tribute for the fight against National Socialism." (X/133, Doc. NO-2637.) An SS dentist who served at Buchenwald describes the procedure of taking gold from deceased prisoners:
"I had also to make reports on the gold which was taken out of the mouths of deceased prisoners. These reports were made to the chief dental surgeon in Oranienburg. In 1941 this was Dr. Pook. The quantity of gold taken from the deceased prisoners had to be reported monthly along with the other routine reports through the mail. The gold was delivered to the administration officer, Barnewald, who, as far as I know, handed it over to the Reich Bank." (XXI/35, Doc. NO-2127.)
In 1943 office D III of WVHA issued an order to the effect that any one suffering from a disease was to receive a mark on the upper arm after examination and the eventual removal of any teeth, the sign to read: "Examined by the dental surgeon." (XXI/39, Doc. NO-2332.)
An order from WVHA dated 8 October 1942, stated specifically that "gold removed from the teeth and supplied in the normal way by the concentration camps" was to be delivered to the Reich Bank. (XXII/62, Doc. NO-2305.)
The day following the visit of the U.S. Congressional Committee at Buchenwald a large cache of gold fillings and rare jewelry was discovered in a quarry near the camp. "Included were literally thousands of wedding rings alone." (VI/71, Doc. L-159.)
It is said of a famous Chicago packing house which is able to turn to some commercial use every part and item of slaughtered animals that of the pig, only the squeal is lost. Of the concentration camp inmate, the Reich lost nothing. The hair shorn from
• Page 1152
his head was sold at the rate of RM .50 per kilogram, and the proceeds were deposited with the Reich treasury. (V/159, Doc. 368O-PS.)
In 1934 Oswald Pohl, who is number one defendant in this case, was chief of administration of the SS office located at Munich. At the same time Pohl was Plenipotentiary of the Treasury of the Nazi Party. In this early stage, this one office controlled the finances and administration of the concentration camps as well as those of the Allgemeine SS, the Special Service [Purpose] Troops and the Death Head units. The office had also been engaged in business on behalf of the SS and Nazi Party, utilizing the labor of concentration camp inmates in various enterprises, such as the German Earth and Stone Works, and the Granite Works at Flossenbuerg, Mauthausen, Gross-Rosen and Natzweiler. In 1940 Pohl and Georg Loerner formed the German business enterprises which became known as the DWB Combine, a holding company for numerous business enterprises now being run by the Administration Department. Its capitalization exceeded 46 million RM.
On 20 April 1939, the administrative department, by an order of Himmler himself, became a main office of the SS with the title Administrative and Economic Main Office of the SS. This new office had three divisions:
Amt I (budget) which controlled the allocation of prisoner labor.
Amt II (buildings) handling all building and construction work.
Amt III (economic enterprises).
These three departments all had representatives in the concentration camps.
The actual immediate direction of the concentration camp local machinery came under still another organization known as the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, not under Pohl's management.
Himmler, however, had long desired that there should be one central authority for concentration camps, and he wished that authority to be Oswald Pohl. Thus, in March 1942, these various offices were all consolidated into one organization which became known as the SS Economic Administrative Main Office (WVHA) with 5 separate departments or Amtsgruppen (A, B, C, D, W).
The functions and duties of the various departments may briefly be summarized:
Department A — administration
Office A I-budgets
• Page 1153
Office A II — finance and payroll.
Office A III — legal.
Office A IV — audits.
Office A V — personnel.
Department B — supply billets
Office B I — food supplies.
Office B II — clothing.
Office B III — billeting office.
Office B IV — raw materials and procurement.
Office B V — transportation
Department C — constructions
Office C I — general construction.
Office C II — special construction task.
Office C III — special technical fields.
Office C IV — special art projects.
Office C V — central constructions inspection office.
Office C VI — building maintenance.
Department D — concentration camps
Office D I — central office.
Office D II — inmate labor commitments.
Office D III — medical affairs and camp hygiene.
Office D IV — concentration camp administration.
Office D V — legal department.
Department W — economic enterprises
Office W I — Stones and Earth (Reich).
Office W II — Stones and Earth (East).
Office W III — food manufactories.
Office W IV — timber works.
Office W V — organization of agriculture,forestry, fisheries.
Office W VI — utilization of textiles and leather.
Office W VII — books and pictures
Office W VIII — special projects
Each office in department W was subordinate to the so-called staff W, which was responsible to the chief of the department. The head of staff W held the position of economic advisor to the managing director, Oswald Pohl, and had immediate supervision over the directors of the DWB, the auditing and legal departments, tax affairs and those concerning plant management. All communications to the highest party office, ministries and central authority, went through the chief of staff W.
Departments A, B, C, and D were allocated funds like any other administrative office of the Reich with government funds. Department W, on the other hand, worked essentially along; commercial lines, utilizing private funds, bank credits, etc. It is
• Page 1154
Pohl's estimate that SS enterprises were financed 40 percent with Reich funds and 60 percent through private credit.
The WVHA offices were located in Berlin with the exception of department D installed at Oranienburg. Thus the defendants claimed they had no direct, physical contact with the concentration camps and could not know what was happening in them. However, in addition to the visits which many made to the camps themselves, there were meetings every 3 or 4 months in the WVHA building in Berlin and in the department D building at Oranienburg with the concentration camp commanders.
"The questions which were discussed at these meetings were mostly the following: labor assignment, food rations, clothing, quarters, treatment of the prisoners, nature of punishment and the carrying out of punishments, erection of new outside camps, evacuation of invalids to other camps, questions of troops and guards, particularly — since there was a considerable shortage of guards — training of female wardens and their recruiting." It was department D which ordered that prisoners of war detained in concentration camps were to be treated like all other inmates. This same department controlled labor allocations and even the camp commander had no authority to intervene in such matters. (III/112, Doc. NO-2327.)
The order for the gassings and for administering lethal injections to Russian prisoners of war came still from department D. Max Pauly, excommandant of the concentration camp at Neuengamme, stated that when he found the prisoners of war too feeble to work, he requested of department D that the working hours be reduced from 11 to 9 hours, but this was refused. (V/132. Doc. NO-1201.)
When detainees dead and dying arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp in the mid-winter in open trucks, the camp commander protested to WVHA, but department D ordered that further transports were to be continued and accepted. (XI/17, Doc. NO-2125.)
Albert Schwartz, who worked as a labor assignment leader at this camp made daily reports to office D II. He stated:
"I know, that many prisoners died and many others became unfit for work by the inadequate accommodation and nourishment and the lack of medical attendance. Amtsgruppe D and Amtsgruppe C were responsible for all these cases of death and horrible events. The Amtsgruppe D was responsible for the nourishment and accommodation of these prisoners while Amtsgruppe C was responsible for providing the necessary manpower in order to finish this building project within the stipulated time. * * * (XI/17, Doc. NO-2125.)
• Page 1155
"According to an order of D III all prisoners provided for the transport were to be examined for their fitness to work by the camp doctor, therefore D III is responsible for the state of health of the prisoners on transport." (XI/18, Doc. NO-2125.) Dr. Friedrich Entress, camp physician at Auschwitz, declared that the facilities of the concentration camp Auschwitz, which was subordinate to WVHA, were used for the execution of the extermination policy of the Reich Security Main Office. From these experiences and activities at Auschwitz, he accused the following of knowledge and participation in the gassings: the camp commander, his deputy, the labor allocation officer (subordinate to office D II), the camp physician (subordinate to office D III), chief of the administration (subordinate to office D IV), construction chief (subordinate to department C), and Pohl. (XXI/28, Doc. NO-2368.)
Further, that the garrison physician reported monthly on the progress of the medical experiments to Dr. Lolling, office D 111, (XXI/28, Doc. NO-2368.)
Some idea of the amount of dental care given to the prisoners can be gained from the statement of Dr. Karl Abraham that he was the only dentist at Stutthof, which contained from 4,000 to 5,000 persons. He was subordinate to office D III. (XXI/34, Doc. NO-2127.)
In the beginning of 1942, Himmler began assigning manpower to the SS industries on a large scale, charging Pohl with the actual allocation of the inmates. In discharging this function he was to cooperate with Sauckel, Plenipotentiary for Labor, and Speer, Minister of Production.
August Frank was Pohl's deputy from 1 September 1942 to 1 August 1943. At the same time he functioned as chief of department A. Georg Loerner succeeded Frank as deputy chief of WVHA, and Fanslau, upon Frank's departure, inherited the chiefship of department A.
Prior to becoming deputy chief of WVHA, Georg Loerner was chief of department B, and in that capacity was responsible for the clothing and food requirements of the Waffen SS and the concentration camp inmates.
Department C was the chief construction office of the SS and it laid down the principles and guiding rules for SS construction. Department D calculated the total building material requirements for any particular construction business and made requisitions for such material from Speer of the armament industry.
The gas chambers and crematories of the Auschwitz concentration camp, built in 1943, came into existence through the
• Page 1156
machinery just indicated. The accounts for these constructions were sent to office C VI for preliminary examination and then to the Supreme Auditing Court of the Reich. The actual details of allocation of concentration camp inmates to the industries were worked out by office D II. Departments B and C had branch agencies, both in the Reich and occupied territories.
The control of WVHA over concentration camps is evidenced to the last detail. A document dated 30 July 1943, authorized permit for a truck from Auschwitz to Dessau and back for the purpose of obtaining "zyklon". This authorization is signed by Gluecks, chief of department D, WVHA.
Another document dated 26 August 1942, from WVHA authorizes a truck to go to Dessau to obtain material to be used for a "special purpose."
Although the extermination program was fairly generally known, the writers of documents shied away from actually using the expression.
"Your request for a 5-ton truck with trailer to go to Dessau and back for the purpose of getting material for the transfer (Umsiedlung) of Jews is hereby approved." The "transfer" meant permanent transfer from life to death. Pohl dealt with Reich Bank director Emil Puhl on the matter of delivery of Action Reinhardt loot. On one occasion he visited the Reich Bank accompanied by Georg Loerner and August Frank. There he was shown the contents of the vaults by Emil Puhl, vice president, who said:
"Well, your things are among them." On this matter Pohl specifically stated:
"Further details concerning the delivery of the concentration camp loot to the Reich Bank were worked out by my subordinates and the reports were squared by special Reich Bank and Amtsgruppe A personnel." (XXII/32, Doc. NO-2714.)
Pohl further stated:
"The first shipment of valuables of which I knew was made in the autumn of 1943. At this date there was no question as to the source of the material turned over to the Reich Bank. Generally speaking the loot realized from Action Reinhardt, as I learned later from Globocnik's final report and Vogt's auditing reports, consisted of a great variety of personal items such as gold teeth, rings, jewelry, and foreign currency. It was never doubted that this loot was taken from Jews exterminated in the concentration camps. The gold jewelry and foreign currency was to be placed on deposit for the Reich in the Reich Bank for the benefit of the German Reich." (XXII/32, Doc. NO-2714.) Pohl knew from 1943 that gold teeth and crowns of concen-
• Page 1157
tration camp inmates were broken out of their mouths after liquidation, melted down, and delivered to the Reich Bank. In 1944 he conferred with Funk, president of the Reich Bank, regarding the obtaining of uniforms for the Waffen SS. In support of claim for these uniforms Pohl pointed out the great quantities of old clothes which the WVHA had turned over to the Reich--this old clothing represented the garments taken from exterminated Jews at Auschwitz and Lublin. Funk agreed with Pohl that in behalf of the Waffen SS he was entitled to privileged treatment on account of the delivery of the old clothes of the dead Jews.
Pohl sent one of his representatives (Sturmbannfuehrer Opperbeck) to Lublin to take over these enterprises acquired by Globocnik from the Jews. These enterprises were coordinated into a new company, Ostindustrie (OSTI) and placed under the command of staff W of the WVHA. (XXII/33, Doc. NO-2714.)
Upon the completion of Action Reinhardt all the concerns involved in this action were officially taken over by WVHA. Himmler wrote Pohl a letter expressly thanking him for his part in carrying out the economic side of Action Reinhardt. As in the extermination program, a degree of caution was always exercised in connection with the Action Reinhardt when it came to writing. Thus, though the meaning of Action Reinhardt was not much of a secret, yet when it came to depositing foreign currency taken from the slain Jews the account was made out in the name of one Max Heiliger, a fictitious person. (XXII/33, Doc. NO-2714.)
The involvement of WVHA in Action Reinhardt is complete. Pohl has spoken unequivocally of his arrangements with Himmler, Reich Bank President Funk, and Reich Bank Vice President Puhl, and Globocnik. Referring to the quantity involved, Pohl said: "There was a giant quantity of valuables, since the delivery continued for months and years." These articles, which have heretofore been partially enumerated were collected in the extermination camps, packed in crates, and sent to the WVHA in Berlin. (XXII/36, Doc. 4045-PS.)
Pohl was not niggardly with treasure taken from the slain Jews. On 6 November 1943, he wrote Brandt of Himmler's staff "I intend to make a Yuletide gift to the units of the Waffen SS as indicated on the attached list from the watches, wristwatches, and fountain pens as listed on the same." (XXII/41, Doc. (NO-2753.)
Himmler was quite pleased with Pohl's suggestion and added that 15,000 of the ladies watches should also be distributed as Christmas gifts among the German resettlers coming from Russia. (XXII/42, Doc. NO-2754.)
• Page 1158
Still there should be a limit to this generosity, especially when a sizeable profit could be made on some of the items. "* * * the watches with the most precious Swiss works in pure gold and platinum cases, etc., and also pure golden fountain pens and propelling pencils have to be put at the disposal of the Reich Bank for sale abroad. The Reich Leader SS is of the opinion that also perhaps the stamp collections might be traded for foreign exchange." (XXII/43, Doc. NO-2754.)
Pohl did not forget his own WVHA in this bonanza. He kept 500 of the clocks for distribution to the concentration camps to be used in the guard rooms. (XXII/44, Doc. NO-2755.)
Then there were 16 special gold precision wristwatches with stop devices and technical reading devices, each valued at 300 RM. Pohl had these watches overhauled by office D II at Oranienburg and sent them on to Himmler, who replied: "I shall use the watches as a special award for brave soldiers, who have distinguished themselves at the western or eastern front by destroying tanks or in other outstanding ways." (XXII/46, Doc. NO-2749.)
All this was done on a high level of morality. Pohl declared on 4 July 1944, "As a matter of principle it has to be kept in mind that the entire Jewish property is to be incorporated into the Reich property." He then outlines in detail how credits should be made up for the loot. (XXII/48, Doc. NO-3161.)
On 16 June 1944, Pohl attended a conference in Auschwitz regarding the construction work to be done there, the labor of course to be inmate supplied. Among the long list of items approved for construction we find:
"10. Three barracks for the emergency measure ‘Operation Jews’.
* * * * * * * * * *
"16. Camouflage of the crematories, and security measures by constructing a second fence (the camouflage has to be effected by rush-mats which have to be obtained by the SS Standortverwaltung [SS garrison administration] ).
"17. Construction of six mortuaries in Ba I and II." (XXII/39, Doc. NO-2359.)
All camp commanders were nominated by the SS Personnel Office on Pohl's recommendation and were appointed by him. Pohl has sought to place the blame for many concentration camp excesses exclusively on the commanders themselves as they had almost absolute power within their compounds, but since he was responsible for their appointment and could also dismiss them, he may not excuse himself entirely of these excesses when he was aware of their commission and could have prevented their con-
• Page 1159
tinuation. Furthermore, as chief of the WVHA, Pohl was automatically chief judiciary officer for all men under the jurisdiction of the WVHA. The administrative positions numbered about 1,600. He was also chief judicial officer for all guards serving in the concentration camps whose number reached the figure of 30,000). As chief judicial officer he reviewed all judgments pronounced by the SS and Police court against the WVHA Police courts and camp guards.
Pohl visited the camps regularly on tours of inspection and thus could check on general conditions. Each month he received a survey on the population of the individual camps as well as the mortality rates.
The WVHA was the central administrative body for all concentration camps. As has been shown, it provided the clothing, the equipment, and supplies; it developed the construction program; it allocated the inmate labor; it operated the SS industries. It is inconceivable that the defendants, with several exceptions, could not have known what was transpiring in the concentration camps, even though their offices were not actually within the barbed wire enclosures. Knowing of the excesses and the crimes, against humanity, were they in a position to prevent those excesses and to forestall the crimes against humanity?
Mere knowledge of crime without the power to interfere carries no moral or legal condemnation. But knowledge of crime and participation in the system which makes that crime possible dissipates the concept of unblemished innocence.
That concentration camps were not nursing homes was common knowledge to the whole German population. It was also clear that the grim silence of the few who emerged from the barbed wire compounds before the end was not due to the ecstasy of their memories but to the numbness which goes with a horror beyond the mental or spiritual capacity to assimilate. Even before concentration and forced labor camps became so numerous, that they dotted Germany like poisonous toadstools, people knew of Dachau and spoke of it in the tone that mothers one time employed to frighten their children, as they hushedly spoke of the fiery domains of Lucifer. It would be stretching credulity to the point of reckless unconcern to assume that the very administrators of the concentration camp system did not know what was generally being said about it.
But it has been argued by the defendants that they were unaware of abuses in the camps and if perchance knowledge thereof
• Page 1160
percolated into their ken, they were powerless to prevent such abuses. However, it was within their power to be less enthusiastic in their individual tasks which inevitably contributed to the final result, they could have displayed less zeal in plaiting the strand which formed the rope eventually destined to hang some hapless victim from Czechoslovakia or Denmark. The crux of the whole situation lay in the doctrine of Fuehrerprinzip. SS men were expected to weave without thought, and strike without aim or reflection. No one was to think, no one was to reflect, no one was to ponder, except Adolf Hitler. The nation that had produced such men as Humboldt, Kant, Goethe, and Gutenberg, now had but one brain and one guiding hand.
The common defense of the accused at the bar as to why they joined the NSDAP and the SS was that, following the First World War, Germany was in a state of political turmoil and economic disintegration, that a score of parties battled for power, and that chaos and disaster impended; that Hitler then came along and with a strong hand stabilized the country, established order, abolished unemployment, built roads, and gave Germany dignity and prestige before the world. Leaving aside for the moment what the German people may have thought about Hitler in those early days, and, even if he accomplished a part of the things attributed to him, forgetting for the moment the manner of accomplishment, the fact remains that there came a time when it was obvious to all those in Hitler's field of operation that he was leading the German people into ruin, destruction, disgrace, infinite misery, and sorrow. But no one, that is, practically no one, of his collaborators attempted to seize and render harmless the insane navigator, who was wildly propelling the ship of state toward rocks obvious to anyone not himself afflicted with the same mania.
The immediate coadjutors of Hitler were the SS. Theirs was the job of terrorizing, threatening, oppressing, and killing off all opposition and opponents. Hitler's second in command was the assassin Heinrich Himmler. Himmler headed the SS and laid down the policies of the concentration camps. It is simply unbelievable that if Himmler's co-workers and his immediate subordinates disapproved of his program of mass murder, pillage, thievery, kidnapping, torture, and diabolical destruction that they could not have done something about it. The truth of the matter is that each saw in the continuation of that program a benefit of some kind for himself, a higher rank, a gaudier uniform, an easier and more lucrative position, a bigger car, an increased authority, a longer strut, and a more numerous number of underlings to tremble before his greatness. Vanity, arrogance, and greed
• Page 1161
were the vehicles in which the SS took the German population to the abyss.
The adjudication of the individual defendants in the present case appears in the majority opinion filed simultaneously with this opinion, but the adjudication of guilt of the philosophy and ideology behind concentration camps is something that lies with the German people. The world has condemned concentration camps, as civilization long ago proscribed human slavery. That civilization naturally includes the Teutonic race which has made no inconsiderable contribution to the progress of the human spirit in its eternal struggle toward emancipation from the forces of evil which have caused unhappiness since the world's beginning. What happened to Germany?
Not an unimportant result of these trials is the documentation they have produced in reestablishing the age-long truism that inevitable disaster awaits any nation which reposes irrevocable absolute power in the hands of one man. History has been writing to no purpose if it does not show over and over again that absolutism is a drink too potent for any person, without its warping his brain, rotting his conscience, and destroying all reflexes of responsibility to the donors of the bottle.
What must horrify the population of Germany today even more than the physical wreckage which strews their land is their reflection on the demoralization of spirit which caused supposedly intelligent and conscientious fellow nationals to swear the oath:
"I vow inviolable fidelity to Adolf Hitler; I vow absolute obedience to him and to the leaders he designates for me."
Each person who took this oath renounced his personality, repudiated his judgment, put aside his intelligence, and set himself adrift on the ocean of moral irresponsibility. Here was the root of the upas tree under whose branches the horrible crimes against humanity were committed. This oath explains how man, made in the image of his fellowman, tortured and slew him not because of any grievance against him, but because orders coming from Hitler and those appointed by him wished it. Thus the defendant, in the present case did their own little or big job carefreedly, even though that job encompassed the drawing of plans for an extermination chamber, the purchasing of zyklon gas, or perhaps only the furnishing of zebra suits to concentration camp inmates. It was not the concern of the WVHA as to what happened at the end of the assembly line. Each member of this organization added his little bolt or twisted a little screw or turned the wheel, of an insignificant lathe. It was not his responsibility as to what was done with the machine he was helping to fashion and create. The
• Page 1162
concentration camps of Germany and occupied territories are the ignoble monuments to these bolt and nut-turners.
One of the purposes of the war crimes program is to let the German people see what miserable wretches and bankrupt souls were running and ruining their nation. One of the objects of the trials is to demonstrate that such an oath as above quoted, which makes no acknowledgment of a Supreme Being and which takes no account of responsibility to the people of the nation, is first a sacrilege and then a dastardly crime, in that it puts an engine of destruction into the uncontrolled hands of a maniac. This kind of an allegiance is no demonstration of the cardinal virtue of loyalty, it is the utter renunciation of reason and thought. It is also one of three other things: feeble-mindedness, guileful conspiracy, or the criminal negligence of one who indifferently casts a monkey wrench out of a high window into a crowded street below. One who puts into motion a train of circumstances which can only inevitably lead to the harm of others may not plead lack of intent to do harm.
One salubrious prospect in the Nuernberg scene is the opportunity it affords the German people to see what frauds their leaders were, what petty thieves they were, and more than all, what despoilers they were not only of the present but of the future. There can be no doubt that the vast mass of the German people believed that once the war was ended, peace, prosperity, and all the tranquility and harmony of home life would return, never to depart. But we have seen from Himmler's Metz speech that the Nazis plans were to fight continuous wars, that each German family was to have at least four sons, so that allowing for two to be mangled in death on some distant shrapnel-torn battlefield, there would still be two left to transmit the name. This was the pleasant future that the criminal rulers of Germany were holding out for their homeland.
No democracy worthy of the name would have tolerated a Himmler. With his ugly and grotesque posturings as world conqueror a democratic people, with democratic processes would have laughed him out of public life. In a true democracy Hitler could not have been elected the second time to the position of dog catcher, but under the sheerly fantastic idea of the Fuehrerprinzip he could and did remain in power until, with his own hand he pushed himself into the grave no other German was able or willing to dig for him. And the German people who had given him obeisance never before accorded a modern ruler were reviled and cursed by him in those final days. And Himmler, the man who operated the concentration camps, who murdered millions of in-
• Page 1163
nocents, and who had proclaimed death for those who even dared to think disloyalty to Hitler, in the end betrayed Hitler and set out to bargain with the Allies for his own life.
Had there been no Himmler and Hitler there would have been no concentration camps, and had the German people not given away their birthright of freedom and independence of spirit there could have been no Himmler and Hitler.
Amid her sorrow and wreckage, Germany has learned her lesson never to trust again those who would lead her to felicity over the corpses of decency, dignity, justice, and equality between man and man.