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Part 1 of 2.State Attorney Bach: At this point, where Kindertransporte, die rollen koennen (children’s transports which can roll) are mentioned I shall, with the permission of the Court, call a witness who, among other things, saw these children before they were sent to their death by the Accused.
I call upon Mr. Georges Wellers to give evidence.
Presiding Judge: The witness speaks French, doesn’t he?
State Attorney Bach: Yes.
The witness is sworn.
Presiding Judge: What is his full name?
Witness: Georges Wellers.
Presiding Judge: Please answer the questions put to you by Mr. Bach.
State Attorney Bach: Where are you now living?
Witness Wellers: 6 rue du Loing in Paris.
Q. And what is your occupation?
A. I am Maitre de Recherches (Senior Researcher) at the National Centre for Scientific Research.
Q. You also work at the Faculty of Medicine at the Sorbonne, don’t you?
A. Yes, I work at the Faculty of Medicine at the Sorbonne.
Q. In what capacity?
A. I direct a laboratory of physiological research.
Q. You were awarded a prize of the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medicine, weren’t you?
Q. Where were you born, Mr. Wellers?
A. was born in Koslov in Russia.
Q. And when did you arrive in France?
A. In 1929.
Q. You got married in Latvia and have two children?
Q. You have been a French citizen since 1938?
Q. In 1939 you joined the French army when the war broke out?
Q. Where were you in June 1940, when the Germans occupied France?
A. In the Bordeaux region.
Q. And you were then released from the army and returned to Paris?
Q. And you went back to your work in the physiological laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine?
Q. Mr. Wellers, which was the first razzia (round-up) carried out by the Germans against the Jews in France?
A. Well, the first major round-up took place in May 1941.
Q. Who were the people arrested on that occasion?
A. Foreigners - the German, Austrian, Polish and Czechoslovakian Jews in Paris. They were asked to go to the police station to check their civil status, and when they showed up they were arrested. These were all men, adult men.
Q. Where were these people taken?
A. They were taken to the Orleans region, a hundred kilometres to the south of Paris, to two camps called Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers. Those were the first two camps which were set up.
Q. When was the second time Jews were arrested?
A. The second great round-up took place on the 2nd of August1941 in Paris. They combed the 11th arrondissement (administrative district) of the capital which had thedensest Jewish population, and in one day - going to onehouse after another, one shop after another, and checking
the personal documents of passers-by in the streets - theyarrested all the Jews, all able-bodied men. I forgot topoint out that, in the course of these arrests, about 4,000people were arrested, and, in August, about 6,000; and, inaddition, in the city outside the 11th arrondissement, they
arrested about forty of the most prominent Paris advocates,including Pierre Masse, for instance, a very well-knownlawyer who formerly, in Clemenceau’s time, had been aMinister.
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Q. Which camp were these people taken to?
A. They were taken to the Paris suburbs, to the suburb called Drancy. They were put into a place which was a kind of “city” - a collection of buildings forming a square with an interior courtyard. The buildings were not yet completed, so that the staircase led to large rooms of somewhat strange appearance. Each of them was to contain two or three apartments.
Presiding Judge: Was he at the place he has described?
Witness Wellers: No, not at that time, but I arrived there a few months later.
State Attorney Bach: Mr. Wellers, when were the Jews required to register as Jews in Paris?
Witness Wellers: It was a German ordinance signed by the Militaer-befehlshaber in Frankreich (Officer Commanding the Military Forces in France) and dated 27 September 1940. A short time afterwards - I think two or three days afterwards - there appeared in the French press - which at that time we called the German press in the French language - an announcement of Petain’s Police giving a timetable of the dates at which people had to present themselves for registration in alphabetical order. Thus, I personally was called on 19 October 1940.
Q. Mr. Wellers, could you please tell us briefly how you registered, and also tell us what particulars you gave in the case of your wife.
A. Well, one had to present oneself and to declare oneself and one’s children. I declared myself as Jewish and I declared my children as Jewish, but I did not declare my wife, which was tantamount to declaring her as non-Jewish.
Q. When were you arrested, Mr. Wellers?
A. I was arrested on 12 December 1941.
Q. By whom?
A. By a single policeman who came to my home at five or six in the morning.
Q. A policeman?
A. One single German policeman.
Q. And you were taken first to the Ecole Militaire (Military Academy) in Paris?
Q. When you were taken there, what explanation was given to you and to the others concerning your arrest?
A. Well, we were received by a group of SS men who received us shouting and joking. They told us that on the previous day, 11 December (something of which most of us, including myself, were unaware), Hitler had made a speech in which he had stated that Germany had declared war on the United States, and as Hitler had previously declared that if there was another war, it was the Jews who would pay for it, it was these Jews who would pay for the entry of the United States into the War.
Presiding Judge: Did Hitler declare war on the United States? I think the United States declared war on Germany.
Witness Wellers: No, I think it was Germany which declared war on the United States.
State Attorney Bach: After the Japanese attack on the United States, Hitler declared war on America. This is what I remember.
Witness Wellers: Might I just add something?
State Attorney Bach: Please do.
Witness Wellers: I wanted to say that this arrest was clearly a selection. They went to the homes of each of us separately; there were 750 of us, and this included a large number of very well-known people - many lawyers, many intellectuals in general - so that there was a certain resemblance among those that were selected. It would seem that we had been specially selected, each one individually.
State Attorney Bach: You and the 750 other Jews were taken to the camp at Compiegne?
Q. Who guarded the camp?
A. The camp was guarded by the Wehrmacht. Its official name was Frontstalag 122; it was divided into three parts separated by barbed wire fences. In one part there were Russians who had been arrested in June 1941 when Germany attacked the Soviet Union; there were Soviet Russians as well as emigre Russians, White Russians, and there were many Jews amongst them. Another part, again separated by barbed wire fences, was occupied by Frenchmen who were syndicalists, communists and socialists; and then there was a third part which had been unoccupied before our arrival and which was occupied by us, and that was the Jewish camp.
Q. You are saying that there were really a number of different camps, and one camp amongst them was set aside for the Jews. How were the prisoners in this camp, the Jewish camp, treated as compared with the treatment given to the prisoners in the adjoining camps?
A. Well, the rules were as follows. In the Russian camp and the French camp the prisoners were allowed correspondence and had the right to receive parcels and to have visitors. But, as for us, we were kept in isolation; we were neither allowed to write, nor, naturally, to have visitors, nor to receive any parcels. Theoretically, our families were not supposed to know where we were, but in practice - thanks to the magnificent solidarity of the Russian and French camps next to us - we were able quite soon to send out secret letters so that our families were informed, but officially we were kept in total isolation for three months until 12 March 1942.
Q. Do you know if your wife tried to approach the Red Cross in order to send a letter to you?
A. Yes, but they refused to give her any answer whatsoever.
Q. Did the letter reach you somehow or other?
A. The official letter?
Q. The letter which your wife tried to send to you through the Red Cross.
A. No, I never received any official letter from my wife and she never asked for a letter to be sent to me. She asked the Red Cross to inform her where I was. They refused to give her any information.
Q. When did you first see the SS Officer Dannecker?
A. I saw him on 12 December 1941 when we were assembled in the Riding School of the Ecole Militaire in Paris, before we were taken to Compiegne, on the day of our arrest. He arrived, I think, at about four or five in the afternoon and came into the Riding School accompanied by a small group of Germans in uniform. He walked across the Riding School, and at that moment he noticed two of us who were wearing French uniforms - one was a military physician who had been arrested at his place of work where he was wearing his uniform, and the other was a fireman wearing a fireman’s uniform. Then Dannecker stopped in front of them and addressed them, shouting very loudly; some curious people came up, and then Dannecker took out his revolver and shouted that he would shoot any Jew who came near him, and then he ordered the two prisoners in uniform to be removed. They were taken away, and perhaps an hour later they were brought back dressed in ordinary clothes. They had been taken home to change, because Dannecker did not want any French uniforms among these prisoners.
Q. When were the first Jews sent from Compiegne to
A. On 27 March 1942.
Q. When did Dannecker first arrive in Compiegne?
A. I first saw Dannecker on the night of the 12th to the 13th of December when we were taken to the camp. He was waiting for us at the entrance to the camp. Then he returned, I think, three or four days later, and then I saw him again on 12 March 1942 when he came with a whole group of Germans, including Lieutenant-Colonel Pelzer who was commandant of all the camps at Compiegne and Captain Nachtigal who was the commandant of the camp at Compiegne in which we were. It was a German commission headed by Dannecker.
Q. When you saw Dannecker in the camp, who did you think he was?
A. We were convinced that he was the head of the Jewish section of the Gestapo for France and Belgium.
Q. In what way could you see his influence in the things that were done in the camp?
A. In the camp at Compiegne?
Q. Perhaps in a wider sense both at Compiegne and also afterwards at Drancy.
A. Well, he was a man who was perpetually under pressure, perpetually in a rage. He reached for his revolver very easily, he shouted very easily when he came to Drancy (for three months he hardly went to Compiegne at all). Several times, for instance, when he came to Drancy, the order was given that nobody was to be in the courtyard of the camp and nobody was to look out of the windows. When Dannecker was walking in the courtyard, as soon as he saw a face in a window he threatened the face which he saw. He sometimes came up into the rooms and I know, I have been personally present at the deportation of a few people who had been picked out by Dannecker at the last minute just as the convoy was leaving the camp; people were brought in on Dannecker’s personal orders and added to the convoy. He was a man who was undoubtedly an evil spirit in the camps in which I saw him.
Q. Can you recall the names of any people who were deported as a result of Dannecker’s direct intervention?
A. Yes, it was on 29 April 1942. There was a convoy which was leaving and which included myself; the column was just leaving the camp. Dannecker was present. At that moment he went and made a short visit. I saw him disappear into the buildings, and a few minutes later I saw four people coming up at great speed. They were Maitre Pierre Masse, his brother Roger Masse, Maitre Francois Montel and Maitre Albert Ulmeau, all of whom I knew very intimately. Their heads were shaved at once in front of us. They were searched in the middle of the courtyard and were added to our convoy. They were three lawyers, and Roger Masse who was not a lawyer.
Q. Since this has some importance, who was Roger Masse?
A. Roger Masse was a former student of the Ecole Polytechnique, one of the outstanding technical institutes in France. The engineers who graduated from this school were at that period mainly military engineers, so he was a colonel and had the rank of colonel in the French army. He had naturally been mobilized in 1939, and in 1940 he was taken prisoner. He was in an Oflag (Officers’ Camp) in Germany, and, if I am not mistaken, in August 1941 he was set free by the Germans as a former combatant of the 1914-1918 war, seeing that he was already quite old (he had already fought in the 1914-1918 war). He was not the only one. I have known other combatants of the 1914-1918 war who were also set free by the Germans. He consequently arrived in Paris in August 1941 and on 12 December 1941, a few months later, he was arrested as a Jew, as I was. That is what I am able to tell you about Roger Masse.
Q. Before we go back to him, was he afterwards taken to Auschwitz?
Q. Did he also die there?
A. Undoubtedly. With regard to his deportation, this is what I am able to tell you. On 29 April 1942 we were with the two Masse brothers, and we were once again taken to Compiegne from where we had previously arrived at Drancy.
Q. In short, Mr. Wellers, would it be true to say that you were brought to Drancy from Compiegne and were not taken in the first transport because you were registered as the husband of an Aryan wife?
Q. In that first transport of 27 March 1942, how many people were taken?
A. Well, at Compiegne there were about 550 who were deported on 27 March, and when they arrived at the station at Compiegne there was already a train waiting for them in which there were another 500 people who had come from Drancy, and consequently there were 1,000 people in the transport as always.
Q. Mr. Wellers, from the time you reached Drancy in June 1942 until you were sent to Auschwitz, apart from a certain period when you worked at “Einsatzstab (Special Operations Staff) Rosenberg” (we shall return to that later), you were in the camp at Drancy?
Q. While you were at Drancy, how many deportations from the camp did you actually see?
A. I think, between forty and fifty.
Q. How many people were deported on each occasion?
A. Between 1,000 and 1,200.
Presiding Judge: Was Drancy a camp solely for Jews or also for others?
Witness Wellers: No, solely for Jews.
State Attorney Bach: Did you sometimes see Dannecker while the deportations were in progress?
Witness Wellers: Yes.
Q. Did Dannecker have any influence on conditions in the camp with regard to an improvement or worsening of conditions?
A. I think so, because Dannecker had the role, he conducted himself, as absolute master of the camp, and for us nobody was more important than Dannecker.
Q. Mr. Wellers, did you know where the Jews deported from the camp were sent to?
A. Not at all.
Q. You sometimes received postcards from the people who were deported?
A. I believe that in January 1943 I saw three cards which reached the camp at Drancy and which were addressed to people who were supposed to be in Drancy at that period but had already been deported, so that the intended recipients were no longer there. These three cards were written in more or less identical terms on each occasion, and the senders - who wrote from a place marked Birkenau, and it was the first time I had heard that name, which meant nothing whatsoever to me or to anyone else in the camp - each of the senders asked his family to send him, if I remember rightly, 40 marks, a parcel of clothes and letters. One of these cards was accompanied by a letter of the commandant of the Paris region - a general who had the title of Commandant of “Gross-Paris” - and in this letter it was stated that money and parcels were not permitted, and, as for letters, they could be sent via the commandant of the Paris region. In these postcards, the writers stated that they were living in very good conditions, they were very pleased with their way of life, and they were working in a very satisfactory manner.
Q. Mr Wellers, do you recall the events of the 16th and 17th of July 1942?
Q. Who were the people who were arrested on those days?
A. Foreigners in the Paris region - in the city, in the inner suburbs; only foreigners, of all kinds of nationalities. They were men, women and children aged from two to sixty.
Q. Where were these people taken at first?
A. Some of them - I must point out that at that time I was in the camp at Drancy, so, on the night between the 16th and 17th of July I saw men and women arriving in the camp with adolescents of over twelve years of age; they were all taken to Drancy on that very day - and they told me that the people who had been arrested with children aged from two to twelve had been sent directly to the Paris Velodrome d’Hiver, a sports stadium especially for cycling events situated in the centre of the city, very near the Eiffel tower.
Presiding Judge: When you say foreign citizens, you are referring to Jews?
Witness Wellers: Solely.
State Attorney Bach: What happened to the people who had children of over twelve years of age?
Witness Wellers: These children remained a relatively short time at Drancy. They were arrested on 16 and 17 July, and on 19 July there was already the first deportation of the people in Drancy who were of that group. All the others were deported during approximately the two following weeks, because at that time - and that lasted about two months - there were three departures a week from Drancy and three arrivals a week at Drancy; 3,000 people a week left Drancy and 3,000 were brought to Drancy. These were all deported between 19 July and, I think, 15 August.
Q. With regard to the people, the families who had children aged from two to twelve, who were first in the Velodrome d’Hiver, what do you know about conditions there at that time?
A. I must point out that I do not know directly because I myself was at Drancy, but in the two or three days following 16 July there were a few people who were sent to the Velodrome d’Hiver by mistake and were afterwards sent to Drancy, and these people told me what happened in the Velodrome d’Hiver.
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Q. What were the conditions there?
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, I believe we must be brief on this. I believe there is still much that the witness has to recount.
State Attorney Bach: Where were those children and adults finally taken?
Witness Wellers: After four or five days in the Velodrome d’Hiver, they were sent to the camps of Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers in the Orleans region.
Q. And there, at Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers, they separated the children from the parents?
Q. What did they do with the parents?
A. The parents were deported directly from these two camps, without passing through Drancy.
Q. The children who remained, how many of them were there?
A. There were 4,000 children.
Q. Did you see these children?
A. Yes, I saw them.
Q. Do you know how they were separated from their parents?
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, I really think we could cut that short. He himself says that he did not see this; he only saw them when they reached Drancy.
State Attorney Bach: When did you see them after they reached Drancy?
Witness Wellers: They reached Drancy in the second half of August in four convoys of 1,000 accompanied by 200 adults who were not connected with them and were not their parents, and who had come with them from Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande. They arrived in four different transports, each comprising 1,000 children and 200 adults. There were 4,000 children in all.
Judge Halevi: Were there 4,000 children or one thousand?
Witness Wellers There were four transports which arrived at three- or four-day intervals, and in each transport there were 1,000 children and 200 adults. Consequently there were four transports carrying 4,000 children.
State Attorney Bach: Mr. Wellers, could you describe to the Court the appearance of these children in the camp?
Witness Wellers: They arrived in the camps in buses in the usual way. Everyone was transported that way - in buses guarded by Vichy policemen with Vichy Inspectors of Police. The buses came right into the camps. In the middle of the courtyard there was a place separated by barbed wire, and the buses came into this area very fast. The children were told to leave the bus because one bus followed the next at great speed, and they had to make way for the buses behind them. And so these unfortunate children were completely disoriented and at a loss; they left the buses in silence. They were taken in groups roughly corresponding to the numbers in each bus - there were sometimes fifty, sixty, eighty children. The older ones held the younger ones by the hand. No one was allowed to go near these children apart from a few people amongst us, including myself, who had special permission. They were taken into rooms in which there were no furnishings but only straw mattresses on the ground - mattresses which were filthy, disgusting and full of vermin.
Q. Mr. Wellers, did all these children know their own names?
A. No, there were many infants two, three, four years old who did not even know what their names were. When trying to identify them, we sometimes asked a sister, an older brother - sometimes we simply asked other children if they knew them, in order to find out what they were called. In this way we did find some names, very often no doubt quite a wrong one, and then in the camp we made little wooden discs, and on these discs the name was inscribed which had been established in this way, obviously without any certainty that the name was correct, and the discs were then attached with a string to the neck of each child.
Unfortunately, some while afterwards, we found boys with discs carrying girls’ names and girls with discs belonging to boys. The children amused themselves with these discs and swapped them.
Q. Mr. Wellers, what happened to these children’s personal possessions?
A. Well, these children generally arrived with miserable bundles - very badly made up, naturally - and, as they were forced to get off the buses very quickly, the children usually forgot their miserable baggage in the bus, and then the buses were emptied and the bundles were left in the courtyard on the ground. When the buses left the camp, the children were brought back from the rooms to the middle of the courtyard to look for their belongings.
Q. What was the children’s state of cleanliness?
A. Frightful. These children arrived at Drancy after already having been completely neglected for two or three weeks at Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers - they arrived with dirty, torn clothes in a very bad condition, often without buttons, often with one of their shoes completely missing, with sores on their bodies. They nearly all had diarrhoea; they were incapable of going down into the courtyard where there were lavatories. So sanitary slop-pails were put on the landings, but the small infants were incapable even of using these sanitary slop-pails which were too big for them, so on the day of the arrival of the first convoy, four teams of women were formed to care for them and look after these children - women who themselves were liable to deportation, so that when one of them was deported, she was replaced by another. These women got up very early in the morning, before everyone else; they went to the children’s quarters where the children were put 120 to a room, one on top of the other, on dirty mattresses, and they tried to do whatever was possible to repair the clothes as best they could, and to wash the children who soiled themselves throughout the day. There was neither soap nor linen; they did everything with their own handkerchiefs and with the cold water in the rooms. At midday they brought them soup. There were no mess-tins in the camp either, so they served them soup out of cans. The infants couldn’t hold them in their hands, as the soup was hot, and there were children who were incapable of saying that they had not yet received their ration, and, well, it was these women who looked after them.
Q. Mr. Wellers, I have one question: Was it at all permitted for the adults to be with the children at night?
A. No, by 9 p.m. no adult had permission to be in the children’s rooms apart from three or four people who generally had the right of circulating throughout the camp.
I myself had this authorization. At night they were completely alone in these large rooms lit by a single bulb covered in blue paint, because it was wartime and in Paris the air-raid precautions required all visible bulbs to be painted blue. They were thus in semi-darkness, more than semi-darkness; in a place which was hardly lit at all. They slept on the floor, one next to the other. Very often they cried, they became agitated; they called for their mothers.
It happened a number of times that a whole roomful of 120 children woke up in the middle of the night; they completely lost control of themselves, they screamed and woke the other rooms. It was frightful!
Q. Do you remember Jacques Stern?
Q. Could you tell us in a few words what you know about this Jacques Stern?
A. It was a small episode, one among many. Rene Blum...
Q. Who was Rene Blum?
A. Rene Blum was the director of the “Ballets de Monte Carlo.” He was a very well-known figure of the French theatre, the younger brother of Leon Blum, the celebrated French socialist leader and former Prime Minister...
Q. Was he, too, a prisoner at Drancy?
A. At that period he was at Drancy.
Presiding Judge: Were you asking about Rene Blum or about Jacques Stern?
State Attorney Bach: About Jacques Stern. Mr. Wellers began to say something about him in connection with Rene Blum.
Witness Wellers: Rene Blum was an extremely sensitive person. One day he asked me to take him to visit the children’s rooms. I took advantage of a moment in the day when there was no supervisor - immediately after lunch - I took him with me and we went up into a children’s room. When we entered this room, right next to the door stood a little boy - I think he must have been seven or eight years old; he was remarkably handsome, with a face which was very intelligent, very lively. He wore clothes which must have been of very good quality, rather stylish, but in a pitiful condition. One foot was bare, he wore only one shoe, he had a little torn jacket and buttons were missing. He appeared rather happy. When we went in, Rene Blum went up to this child. Rene Blum was a very large man, thin but very tall; the child was small. Rene Blum came up to him and asked him how old he was. I think he answered seven or eight years old, I don’t remember exactly. He asked him what his parents did. The child answered: My father goes to the office and Mummy plays the piano. She plays very well, he added. Then Rene Blum, continuing the conversation - no, I beg your pardon. At that moment, the boy turned to both of us and asked us if he would soon be leaving to join his parents, because I should tell you that we told these children that they would be leaving the camp of Drancy in order to rejoin their parents. We knew very well that it wasn’t true, not because we knew what happened to Jewish children at Auschwitz - not at all - but we had seen in what circumstances they had been brought to Drancy and in what conditions they left, and we were sure that they would never rejoin their parents at their place of arrival. So I answered this boy: Don’t worry, in two or three days you’ll rejoin your mother. He had a little jacket with little pockets, and from one pocket he took out a little half-eaten biscuit in the shape of a soldier which had been given to him. And he told us: “Look, I’m bringing this to Mummy.” Rene Blum, no doubt deeply moved, then bent over the little boy who looked very happy, very engaging. He took his face in his hands and wanted to stroke his head, and at that moment the child, who only a moment ago had been so happy, burst into tears, and we left.
Q. Mr. Wellers, what happened to those four thousand children?
A. They were all deported in the second half of August and the beginning of September, in the space of about two weeks, in convoys consisting of 1,000 children and 500 adults taken from Drancy.
Q. Were all the children deported?
A. All the children were deported.
Q. Mr. Wellers, do you remember Hauptsturmfueher Roethke?
A. Very well.
Q. Was he present during the deportations of the children?
A. He was present during the deportations of the children.
Q. Was Roethke present during several deportations of children from Drancy?
A. Certainly, during several children’s transports. He was present at nearly all the departures from Drancy, and, taking into consideration that at least eight convoys of children left the camp, I am sure that Roethke was present at all eight or at least at six or seven.
Q. Mr. Wellers, did the children leave the camp easily?
A. No, most of the time this, too, was a terrible operation. They were woken up early, at 5 o’clock in the morning; they were given coffee. They had woken up badly, in a bad mood. At five o’clock in the morning, even in the month of August in Paris, it is still very dark; it is still almost night, and when they wanted to get them to come down into the courtyard, it was usually very difficult. So the women volunteers tried through persuasion to get the older ones to come down first, but several times it happened that the children began to cry and struggle. It was impossible to bring them down into the courtyard of the camp, and so policemen had to go up into the rooms and take in their arms the children who were struggling and screaming. They took them down into the courtyard.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, could this testimony end by the intermission?
State Attorney Bach: No, but this is a convenient moment for the intermission. We still have the period of Alois Brunner, following those of Dannecker and Roethke. That is a very important part of the testimony.
Mr. Wellers, when you reached Auschwitz in 1944, did you see any of these children still alive?
A. No, certainly not.
Judge Halevi: Were they sent to Auschwitz? The last document you presented referred to the Generalgouvernement.
State Attorney Bach: Yes, the transports were indeed taken there. I now turn to another question. May I continue for another three or four minutes?
Presiding Judge: Please do.
State Attorney Bach: Mr. Wellers, were there many suicides at Drancy?
Witness Wellers: There were periods in which there were many suicides, among them summer 1942. I think that probably in two months or two months and a half there must certainly have been a hundred suicides. These suicides were rather ill-regarded in the camps. Those who tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide were strongly criticized subsequently by their comrades because it was thought that somebody who wanted to commit suicide should do so after leaving the camp and not while there, because the person who committed suicide was replaced by another person, in order to make up the convoy of one thousand.
Judge Raveh: How many people were in the camp at that time?
Witness Wellers: At that period the population of the camp fluctuated between 4,000 and 8,000 people.
State Attorney Bach: Did you see the deportation of sick people with a fever?
A. Oh, yes. They brought to almost every convoy seriously ill cases on stretchers, they brought people in plaster casts, they brought insane people whom the doctors injected with tranquillizers before putting them on the buses. It was quite usual.
With your permission, I will add something to this. I have been talking about the sick and wounded who were in the infirmary at the camp at Drancy. In addition to this, when there was a lack of people at the camp in Drancy, they went to the Hopital Rothschild, which was the only hospital in the Paris region where Jews were admitted. They went to the Rothschild old people’s home, which was the only old people’s home open to Jews, and to the Rothschild children’s home, and they took the sick, the old people and the children to Drancy to make up the transport.
Q. Did you see women leaving with their babies after giving birth?
A. Yes, it was also the rule that when women arrived at Drancy at the end of their pregnancy, they were kept there for a short time until they gave birth, and immediately afterwards they were deported with the newborn baby.
Q. Did you see cases of citizens of neutral countries whose passports were ripped up in front of them, and who were then declared stateless persons and thus liable to deportation?
A. Yes, that was later, in Brunner’s time.
Presiding Judge: Who did this?
Witness Wellers: Brunner himself did it.
Q. Do you know Brunner’s first name?
A. I think it was Alois.
Presiding Judge: Are you now beginning with Brunner?
State Attorney Bach: Yes.
[To witness] You spoke about Roethke. How many times did you see him at Drancy?
Witness Wellers: Many times, because he was present at most of the deportations, and as I saw some forty deportations, I am sure I saw him a great deal.
Q. How did he behave?
A. Well, he behaved in a rather unobtrusive manner. He stayed near the entry and exit gate of the camp and did not interfere in what was taking place in the camp. I never once saw him address a single Jew. He kept close to the inspectors, near to the place which every deportee passed in order to enter the cars, but I never saw Roethke personally intervene in anything whatsoever. He appeared to supervise everything, but not to intervene directly.
Q. When did Alois Brunner arrive in the camp?
A. I think I saw Brunner for the first time on 17 or 18 June, 1943. He came to the camp alone, and he installed himself at a little table in the middle of the camp courtyard with an inspector of Petain’s police by his side, and all the prisoners of the camp - I think, at that period there must have been not quite 3,000 of us - were called to present themselves to Brunner. He interrogated each one. That lasted for three days, and on 21 June a convoy was formed which had been formed entirely by Brunner. That convoy left the camp, I believe, on 23 June, after which Brunner went away and I saw him again only on 2 July, the date on which he took command of the camp and the date from which he was continuously at Drancy.
Q. You said that he assumed command. Could you tell us what changes took place as a result?
A. There was a complete change. That very day, 2 July 1943, Brunner sent away the whole Vichy administration of the camp - the Vichy commandant of the camp and inspectors of police, and likewise the doctor, the economic administrator, and all the internal guards of the camp. That is to say, the policemen no longer had the right to enter the camps, they only guarded the camps from the outside. From that day onwards, we no longer saw any Vichy administration, he even sent away two nurses of the French Red Cross who had worked for a year and a half in the camps. He arrived on 2 July with three other persons who, if I am not mistaken, held ranks in the SS. There was a non-commissioned officer Brueckler, who I think was a Hauptscharfuehrer, and then there was another called Weisel, who was an Oberscharfuehrer, and a fourth one, called Koettler, who was an Unterscharfuehrer, and that was Brunner’s team. Thus, all in all, there were four.
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Q. How did Alois Brunner behave towards the prisoners in the camp?
A. Well, for the first ten, twelve, perhaps fourteen days, this team of Brunner’s, all four of them, but particularly Brunner himself, Brueckler and Weisel, and to a lesser extent Koettler (who played a rather unobtrusive role) - these three sought by all means to terrorize the detainees and to impress them.