The Auschwitz testimony of Dr. Aharon Beilin

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The Auschwitz testimony of Dr. Aharon Beilin

Post by David Thompson » 06 Jun 2004 02:53

Dr. Aharon Beilin, a former inmate at KL Auschwitz, testified on June 7, 1961 at the trial of Adolf Eichmann. His testimony is available on line courtesy of the Nizkor Project at: ... 69-01.html ... 69-02.html ... 69-03.html and ... 69-04.html and ... 69-05.html

Here is the first of two parts:
Session No. 69
23 Sivan 5721 (7 June 1961)

[The first part of the Session - testimonies on sterilization - was heard in camera.]

Attorney General: I call Dr. Aharon Beilin.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Beilin: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Dr. Aharon Beilin.

Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, you live in Tel Aviv, at 33 Louis Marshall Street?

Witness Beilin: Yes.

Q. You are a doctor?

A. Yes.

Q. In February 1943 you were deported from Bialystok, which at that time was incorporated into the Third Reich, to Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

Q. How many people were there in this transport, together with you?

A. About five thousand. I should like to point out that there were two transports, one following the other. There were ten thousand people at the assembly place; on one train there were five thousand of us, and the next day, the other five thousand arrived on the second train. And they were added to the block where we were, in Auschwitz - in Birkenau.

Q. Were they all Jews?

A. They were all Jews from the ghetto.

Q. Did you try to hide yourself at the time of the round up?

A. Yes.

Q. Successfully?

A. No.

Q. Why?

A. A child’s crying revealed our hiding-place.

Q. And then you were caught, together with your mother?

A. Yes. My wife went to another bunker since we were afraid that if many of us were together
the danger would be greater, so we decided to separate. I remained with my mother, and my wife went to another bunker.

Q. Did your wife and your mother survive?

A. No.

Q. You reached Auschwitz and underwent a selection?

A. Yes. The doctor who conducted the selection was Dr. Rohde.

Q. What unit did he belong to?

A. He was an SS doctor, with the Death’s Head symbol on his cap, and Schwartzhuber - both of them. Perhaps it would be of interest to point out that while the selection was going on, he had a dog at his side, and he whistled the aria from “Rigoletto” - “La Donna e mobile.” About one hundred and fifty men and one hundred and fifty women were selected from the first rows. The remainder were sent off in a group without undergoing selection. Large trucks came to take them away - amongst them my mother as well.

Q. Where were they sent to?

A. They were sent along the road which as I subsequently learned when I was in Auschwitz, led to Birkenau, which was the road leading to the crematorium - but I had a better sign. Three or four hours after I entered the camp, I saw these trucks through the barbed-wire fence - we were then still on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, we had not yet gone inside the camp - I saw these trucks returning with coats, and I saw my mother’s coat. I then understood that she was no longer alive.

There is one other matter I want to mention here. When I was with my mother, she said to me - she was an observant Jewess - she said that she would pray for my survival, but, she told me, I would have to promise to take an oath, that was how she put it to me - she said it in Russian so that the SS men should not understand, because there were some of them who understood a little Yiddish - that if I should remain alive, I should go to Palestine. And I promised her, and I kept my promise, I fulfilled this obligation. And I think I owe this observation to all the mothers who were taken before their time and to all the children who were snatched from their mothers for destruction, for annihilation.

Q. What happened to those who were left alive?

A. All of us, the one hundred and fifty men - and I amongst them - waited three to four hours in front of the barbed- wire fence. After that we entered the camp and waited there until the evening. We had actually arrived in the morning, and there was frost - it was at the height of winter, in February 1943. And they made us do the famous gymnastics of Auschwitz, the “knee-bend” and “roll.” And the guard who accompanied us remained with us until the commander of this division came and said: “I have brought 150 figures from the transport of the RSHA from Bialystok.”

Q. You heard that with your own ears?

A. I heard it with my own ears. And I asked the old-timers who were around there what this RSHA stood for - I had heard these initial letters for the first time. One of them told me they stood for Reichsicherheitshauptamt.

Q. Can you tell us how it was said in German?

A. Yes. “150 Figuren aus dem RSHA-Abtransport Bialystok.” The block into which we were placed was supposedly a quarantine block. There we came across people who had arrived on another transport from Plonsk and Mlawa. Since at the time of our arrival there were no Jews there from Eastern Europe, only from Western Europe, and since Plonsk, Mlawa and Bialystok had been annexed to the Reich, they brought us there as “Reichsdeutsche Jews.” I took advantage of this, later, and I was the only one also who wrote a postcard to the ghetto in Bialystok, and the postcard was received.

Q. We shall come to the episode of the postcard later. You wrote it to your wife, I understand?

A. Yes, I wrote it to my wife.

Q. We shall come to that. You were transferred to a certain block and there you were divided up according to occupations?

A. They had a standard list there, in which as a rule all the prominent functions - as they were called in Auschwitz - were in the hands of “S. Ver. und B. Ver.,” that is to say, the Berufsverbrecher und Schwerverbrecher (professional criminals and men guilty of serious crimes). They were Germans who had been in gaol, who had been sentenced to imprisonment, and who had been released for concentration camp duties. They had a prepared list, and classified the new arrivals (der frische Zugang) according to this list into members of the liberal professions, on the one hand, and criminal elements arriving there, on the other hand.

Those who were not members of the liberal professions and who were not criminals were divided equally into two groups. Those who were criminals and were able to prove that they had spent some time in prison, who, for example, had broken into safes or stolen, were given these duties. What were these duties? Distributors of food, room-attendants (Stubendienst) and so on. I did not know about that and I said that I was a doctor - this served to my disadvantage, together with the whole group of teachers, of writers, and actors; apparently there was a whole standard list and we always received the worst tasks, hard labour, for example, cleaning the toilets or carrying food.

Carrying food in Birkenau involved mortal danger, for there was no meal where the Essen-Kommando (the unit for bringing food) reported to the kitchen and where its Rapportfuehrer (the man in charge), whose name was Schillinger, did not kill two or three people with a huge wooden spoon used to stir the food in the pots; he would pull it out and strike people on the head. This work was given to us.

Q. How long did you remain in this block?

A. Four weeks.

Q. What were your living quarters like?

A. It was terribly overcrowded, sixteen of us lay on a ledge which was intended, more or less, for six people. We could only lie on our side, for, if one of us wanted to turn over, everyone had to turn over. If someone got down during the night in order to relieve himself, he could not come back, and had to lie down on the concrete floor of the block.

Presiding Judge: Why could he not come back?

Witness Beilin: Since it was too crowded, and he would annoy all the others because he would be disturbing their sleep. I remember a case where - since it was winter and the block was not heated, it was cold - a man got down and froze. This crowded condition also had an advantage - we kept each other warm. That man lay the whole night on the concrete - he had diarrhoea. I must point out that seventy per cent of the people in this block died in the course of these four weeks.

Q. Dr. Beilin, are you a physician?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were a physician at that time?

A. Yes. I completed my university studies in 1934.
After the cold shower we were given, and after we were made to run naked, both in order to be tattooed and be registered, and thereafter in order to receive clothing, naked all the time, it was obvious that pneumonia and all other kinds of sicknesses arising out of exposure to cold developed rapidly. In the course of four weeks seventy per cent died.

Attorney General: Was it a procedure in this block that anyone whose temperature rose above a certain degree was taken away from there?

Witness Beilin: Yes. That was the famous temperature-taking; in every block there were groups of medical orderlies under the control of the “SDGH” - he was an SS lance-sergeant, the assistant of the SS doctor, and it was under his supervision that temperatures were taken. He himself checked the thermometer reading and supervised the registration, and if anyone had a temperature of over 37.5, and it did not matter whether the temperature was due to a cold or to a throat infection, he was considered as a potential carrier of germs and was put to death the next day by being loaded, together with all those who had been recorded for this the previous day, on to the trucks, naked and wrapped in blankets. And for us this was a sign that they were on their way to the gas chambers.

Q. When you came to Auschwitz did you encounter people from various countries?

A. Yes. As I said earlier, these were Jews from Western and Central Europe. There were no Jews from Eastern Europe. These Jews were from Czechoslovakia, Holland, from France - all had foreign, not French citizenship, that is to say they were Polish and Romanian Jews who had been brought from France; later on there were Jews from Belgium and from Luxembourg, and amongst them also one German Aryan who said that he was from Luxembourg and that he was a political prisoner.

Q. Did you also see people from Greece?

A. Yes, they began arriving in March-April 1943. When the Greek Jews arrived, I saw yellow cheques in their hands; at that time I did not know the value of the drachma, but they came to the veterans - we were the old-timers, as it were - and asked when they would be receiving their money from the bank, for “we deposited our drachmas over there and were given these cheques to be redeemed at the Polish banks to enable us to live here.” Obviously our answer was: Nil. This I remember, I remember what the cheques looked like; they were yellow and it said in German: “The Jewish bearer deposited such-and-such a number of drachmas in the bank.” And the amount was written both in figures and in words.

Q. Were there also Jews from Zagreb?

A. Yes, there were Jews from Zagreb. I know this from the fact that on this transport a doctor arrived whose name was Bier; he possessed two diplomas - in medicine and in chemistry. One fine day Dr. Bier was taken away as a chemist, and rumour had it - the rumour reached the camp in some way or other - that the chemists were taken to forge Allied banknotes.

Q. Were there also Soviet prisoners?

A. Yes, there were twelve thousand Soviet prisoners, including privates, but there were also officers amongst them, some officers with academic training, despite the fact that in Auschwitz, until the Gypsies were gathered together and exterminated in the gas chambers, Aryans were not generally brought to be gassed, but they died a so-called natural death, from diseases. Of these twelve thousand Russians, many - the majority - died of tuberculosis.

Q. Which they contracted in Auschwitz?

A. In Auschwitz, for most of them were from rural and not from urban populations, and apparently for this reason, owing to the crowding and the starvation, tuberculosis spread amongst them with greater intensity than in the case of an urban population.

Q. Were there Germans in charge of the clinic on behalf of the SS?

A. Yes.

Q. Who were they?

A. I remember three doctors in the clinic - apart from those who used to come for short periods and then disappear. I remember Dr. Rohde - he was the first to make the selection, also when I reached the camp. There was Dr. Helmersen - again, as it was rumoured, Dr. Helmersen was the son of the police commander of Berlin.

Q. Let us talk of facts, not rumours.

A. Afterwards, of course, there was Dr. Mengele, who used to come there - he was one of the last - and I had already got to know him in the Gypsies’ camp.

Q. What was the fate of the Jewish doctors, including your own?

A. Generally speaking, in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, we were not doctors. Our official title was “Pfleger” - male nurses. They said of us: “A Jew is not a doctor, a Jew performs abortions and is a pharmacist, thirsty for poison.” We were the Pfleger - and these male nurses did not only administer medical treatment, which was virtually useless since we had neither medicines nor bandages; the bandaging material which we received was made of paper only. Hence if we applied this kind of bandage in the clinic, both because of the discharge from the wound and also for the reason that if, for example, the bandage was on the foot, the patient would immediately put on this shoe and the bandage would disintegrate.

Presiding Judge: What kind of shoes were they?

Witness Beilin: I also received a pair; they were wooden clogs which were called “Holz-Pantinen.” But we were obliged to perform all the work, that is to say, moving the mattresses and distributing the Muselmannn, the under- nourished.

* * * * *

Attorney General: We shall come to that later. You provided medical treatment...

Witness Beilin: And para-medical, as they called it in the good times....

Q. people entrusted to your care?

A. That is correct.

Q. How many were there in your group of doctors?

A. Where, in the clinic?

Q. Yes, in the clinic.

A. In the clinic, we were about twelve to fifteen doctors, in the B-II-D, that is to say, in the Abschnitt I (Section 1), where I worked in Birkenau.

Q. Did diseases, epidemics, occur? If so, which ones?

A. In B-II-D, first of all there was typhus. This plague was never suppressed. There were merely chance fluctuations, as manifested in the decline or increase in the number of those stricken. But this plague, I would say, was endemic - it was never completely eliminated. There were instances of diarrhoea; the diarrhoea was the outcome of undernourishment and of pollution. We could not make any laboratory tests and we were unable to distinguish whether any case of diarrhoea was due to pollution or undernourishment. But opium, which was the most valuable drug in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, since it immediately halted the diarrhoea and enabled the infected patient to absorb some food and liquids - this remedy was not available. It was more costly than life itself - opium, twenty drops of opium.

After that there was scabies. Obviously there, too, was a radical cure - rubbing the body twice or three times with this medicament would cause the scabies to disappear, but this medicament, the well-known preparation “Mitigal” made by I.G. Farben, of Bayer, was not obtainable.

Q. Were there cases of suicide amongst the prisoners?

A. Yes; here, again, I have to distinguish between one group and the other. West European Jewry, which was not immunized against hatred, had enjoyed complete equality of rights - the Dutch, for example. They could not understand, at all, what was happening here - people were being killed simply because of there being Jews? “I have not done anything.”

Q. Do you recall a particular conversation with a Dutch Jewish doctor?

Presiding Judge: Are you a general practitioner, Dr. Beilin?

Witness Beilin: I am a specialist for infectious diseases. I was the deputy director of the department of infectious diseases in the Bialystok hospital - afterwards in the Bialystok Ghetto. I was transferred with the same title and the same function. Once a Dutch doctor came to us.

Attorney General: A Jew?

Witness Beilin: Yes. A Jew. This Doctor was a newcomer. In other words he had just arrived, from Westerbork, I believe, and he asked me: “Tell me, colleague, when will I see my wife and children?” I asked him: “What is the reason for asking this question?” He replied to me: “Those who were on the ramp at Birkenau told me that persons who were fit for work were going to a separate camp, and the women and children were going to a separate camp where they would receive better treatment. Two weeks later there would be a meeting to enable them to be reunited for a certain period with their families.” And he asked me when this meeting would take place and how it would be arranged.

Q. And you told him that there would be no meetings with families?

A. I told him the truth and afterwards I was sorry.

Q. What did he say to you?

A. He said to me: “No wonder the Germans accuse the Jews of spreading atrocity tales. What you have told me is quite impossible.” I showed him the crematorium which was about three hundred meters from our camp, and I asked him: “Do you see that building? What is it?” He said to me: “That is a bakery.” It was a building constructed of red bricks.

Q. Did he consequently commit suicide?

A. I met him by chance about a fortnight later. He called me. I wanted to avoid this encounter - I saw him from a distance. When he approached me it was most unpleasant for me. He said to me: “Colleague - you were right. This is murder.” Afterwards I learned from his Dutch friends that he committed suicide by thrusting himself - and this was the typical method in the Birkenau camp - on to the barbed-wire fence with its high tension electrical current.

Q. They used to run to the barbed-wire fence?

A. Yes. They used to say “Er ging auf den Draht” (“He went on to the barbed-wire”). That was the technical term for these suicides.

Q. Were the Jews of Eastern Europe more conditioned and less inclined to suicide?

A. Yes. They had a powerful urge to live - whoever could at least cope with the physical suffering, such as hunger, beatings and the diseases. I noticed that where you had the same types of Jew, in the same physical circumstances, under the same physical conditions, in other words, of the same age, with the same external appearance and in a similar state of nourishment, if the two of them contracted the same illness with the same virulence, you could see that if one of them was a West European Jew and the other a East European Jew, the one did not want to live and fled. We called it “Die Flucht in den Tod” (“The flight into death”). At the same time the second one would recover, he would miraculously recover; he was endowed with a powerful will to live and the quintessence of this will to live was to be able one day to take vengeance. I must say this here, explicitly. In the “Sauna” when I was still in quarantine and when we were taken to do all sorts of work, I discovered - in the “Sauna” - all kinds of sentences, verses from the Bible, on the walls. I remember these sayings, and they were in various languages, I remember a saying from Dante: “Abandon hope - all ye that enter here.” I remember the Hebrew sentence: “Avenge ye the blood of your brothers that has been spilt.” I remember a sentence in Yiddish: “Yidden, fargest nisht - nekome” (Jews, do not forget - revenge). I remember a phrase which must have been written either by an educated Polish Jew, or by a Polish prisoner. It was a quotation from Mickiewicz from the “Improvisation”. There is a passage there: “Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance on the enemy - with God and even without God.” This I saw in Polish; since I had graduated from a Polish gymnasium and university, this was close to my heart. When I was in the Gypsies’ camp - and we shall come to that later on, but there is a link with it here - a poem was smuggled to me. For me that was a sign that a group existed which was still capable of writing poems, an organized, underground group. This poem was in Polish. Only the last verse and the title I retain in my memory. It was a long poem. The title was: “They send us out to work and to death.” It referred to the Aussenkommandos (external units) those who went out from the camp to labour, and each time brought back with them dead bodies with the pretext “Auf der Flucht erschossen” (shot while trying to escape).

Your Honours, please forgive me, perhaps I am disgressing from the subject, but I want it to be known, for I myself have never published it and I have never come across this poem in any book that has been published, so far, about the Holocaust. I shall translate this into Hebrew, as it is written in Polish. The title was “To death - people are being deported from the camp, to the field, to the field.” (That is the literal translation.)

The last verse says the following: “Monsters and Barbarians, so that the world might forget you, we shall remove all traces of you. And on your graves we shall erect a sphinx that will eternally cry out: “Links, Links, Links.” Because in the march in Auschwitz, from morning to evening, it was always “Links, zwei, drei, vier, links, zwei, drei, vier, links, links, links” (left, two, three four, left, two, three, four, left, left, left). That was the verse that referred to “links”.

Naturally this poem was exceedingly popular. The Political Department searched and apparently somehow got hold of a copy of this poem and searched for those responsible, but could not find them.

Presiding Judge: What was this “Political Department”?
Witness Beilin: The Political Department was - I can talk of two commandos. There was the Kommando der politischen Aufnahmeschreiber (The Political Unit for the Registration of Arrivals) - those who carried out the work of tattooing and registration when a new transport arrived at Birkenau. These were prisoners who worked under the supervision of one of the SS. And he was always a non-commissioned officer, an Unteroffizier. The Political Department - not the “Kommando der politischen Aufnahmeschreiber” was the department that kept watch in the camps, searched for communists, for propaganda, and on the pretext of this search they sought out all kinds of victims.

Q. That is to say an investigation department?

A. Yes. They had female or male clerks, but these clerks were prisoners who did forced labour. I even remember two of the names of people of the Political Department in the Gypsies’ camp. There was one whose name was Peter Braut who was born in the Argentine, joined the Nazis and came to Germany. He was of German origin. The other was Hofmann. Hofmann was a German from Belgrade. These two sat in the Gypsies’ camp, in the Political Department, and I remember them as if it were today.

Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, what was this manifestation of Muselmannn from the medical and psychological point of view?

Witness Beilin: “Muselmannn” was a word that originated in Auschwitz. It was the stage...

Presiding Judge: I think we have already heard about this from the Kovno Ghetto, if I am not mistaken. Dr. Peretz told us about it, if I remember correctly.

Witness Beilin: The condition of Muselmannn was the final stage of malnutrition. It is interesting that the first symptom of such a man, when he begins to enter the stage of being a Muselmann - and that is a psychological manifestation - is when he begins to talk about food. There were two things about which prisoners did not talk about amongst themselves in Auschwitz - it was a kind of taboo: the crematorium and food. Food, because as a conditioned reflex, it caused the discharge of oxygen in the stomach and increased the appetite. So one had to exercise self-control and not speak about food.

The moment a man lost his self-control and began remembering the good food he used to get at home in better times, this kind of talk was called Muselmann talk. And that was the first stage - we knew that in a day or two he would already be entering the second stage. In other words, there was not such a sharp division - at any rate he would stop reacting, he would stop taking an interest in his surroundings, he would also stop receiving orders and responding to them. His movements would be slow, his face would be like a mask, he would have no control over his bowels. That meant that he would relieve himself wherever he was. He would not even turn himself over from side to side of his own accord. He would lie there.

And in this way he entered the state of being a Muselmann. He was simply a skeleton on swollen legs. And when they wanted to drag such a person from the block to the parade-ground, so that he should stand there, they would place him forcibly against the wall, with upraised arms, with his face to the wall for him to lean on. He was simply a skeleton with a grey face who was standing against the wall, swaying from side to side, since he had no sense of equilibrium. That was the typical Muselmann who was subsequently taken away by the Leichenkommando (Dead Bodies Unit) together with the dead bodies.

Attorney General: when some disease, taking on the form of an epidemic, broke out, what happened to the block?

Witness Beilin: That was the famous “Epidemie-Bekaempfung” (Combatting Epidemics) in Birkenau. The SS doctors were not familiar - generally speaking they evidently did not even recognize - the infectious diseases connected with a rash, with eczema. Nor were they always able to diagnose them. For them this rash was either scarlatina or typhus. And the moment it broke out in the block - and there were six to eight hundred men in this block - this determined the fate of the entire block. And this was called the Epidemie- Bekaempfung, that is a campaign, a war against epidemics. And this whole block was put to death, since it was a carrier of potential germs, that is to say the germs together with their potential carriers.

Q. When did the first Gypsies arrive at Auschwitz?

A. In September 1944, we, eighteen Jewish doctors were chosen by Dr. Helmersen; thereafter one hundred and eighty Poles were added to our number - amongst them thirty to thirty-five doctors, the remainder were medical orderlies and administrative personnel. We were sent out from B-II-D to an empty camp, the purpose of which we did not know.

Q. In what year was this?

A. In 1943, September. In the evening transports of Gypsies began arriving in civilian clothing, with children, women and elderly persons, in their coloured scarfs and with musical instruments. They entered the camp to the sound of music, singing and chanting. And in the course of three to four days the camp filled up to its full capacity, that is to say, eighteen thousand people.
Presiding Judge: All of them Gypsies?

Witness Beilin: All of them Gypsies. Naturally amongst these Gypsies there were also blond types with blue eyes. Either they were offspring of mixed marriages, where the wife did not want to part from her husband, or they were the second generation. At any rate we had blond gypsy men and women.

Attorney General: What country did they come from?

Witness Beilin: They came from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, France and Luxembourg.

Q. Germany?

A. And Germany. They did not come from Romania or Hungary.

Presiding Judge: Why was that? These were actually Gypsy countries?

Witness Beilin: There was an explanation for that. I do not know if it was a fact, but the Gypsies themselves said that in Hungary, the Hungarian nobility was very much mixed up with the Gypsies and hence the Hungarian Government did not agree to deport the Gypsies. This was, of course, only a conjecture; I don’t know how much truth there was in that.

Attorney General: You were entrusted, together with other doctors, with the medical treatment of the Gypsies?

Witness Beilin: Yes. Together with Polish doctors and eighteen Jewish doctors, eight of whom died in the course of time. Amongst them was one woman doctor who now lives in New York, a German Jewess, who was brought from Holland, from Westerbork.

Q. Amongst the Gypsies there were also some who were brought from German military service - is that correct?

A. They came to the camp and did not know what it was. They arrived and greeted us, these German Gypsies, with “Heil Hitler.” Amongst them were young people in the uniform of the Hitler Youth and the B.D.M., the German Girls’ Union. My first patient - a woman - did not want to be examined by a Jewish doctor, after she glanced at my badge indicating that I was a Jew, I was wearing a white coat, and when I wanted to reach for my stethoscope which I had in my pocket, I was obliged to open the coat and then she noticed my Juedischer Winkel - the Jewish badge - she asked “Are you a Jew?” I said: “Yes.” Then she said: “I will not permit a Jewish doctor to examine me.”

That was the first patient in the tuberculosis block which was still empty. She was a tubercular patient and was to be examined as to whether she needed an additional injection of air, a pneumothorax (injection of air into the pleural cavity). I was in the company of a Polish medical colleague, who was incidentally a Polish friend of mine from the university. He asked me: “What is she saying?” He did not speak German. I told him she was saying that she did not want to allow a Jewish doctor to examine her. He laughed and said to me: “Tell her that three hundred meters from here there is a crematorium.” Naturally I was afraid and did not tell her that. I was afraid that she might, in her present mood, go straight to the Political Department and inform on us for carrying out atrocity propaganda.

Six weeks after this I saw this same Gypsy woman - I was working in another block. I heard that I was being called. “Herr Doktor, Herr Doktor” from the top bunk of the block, which had meanwhile been filled to capacity with tuberculosis patients. I looked at her and I saw before me a very emaciated face. I asked: “Do you mean me?” And she replied: “Yes - you don’t recognize me - I was your first patient in the tuberculosis block.” I remembered the affair and asked her how she felt. In reply she said: “Herr Doktor, this is murder - we did not know that.”

Q. Were there also Gypsies who arrived from Germany in military uniform?

A. Yes.

Q. How did they get there?

A. They came on the same transports; they said they had been registered in the Gypsies’ department, the department of registration of Gypsies. This is what they claimed and since they came with all their possessions, they had photographs and pictures - they arrived in uniform. I saw one of them who showed me a photograph of himself participating in the Polish campaign, and said that he had bombed Warsaw. He was in army uniform without signs of rank and without a belt. I also saw lance-sergeants and not only officers. They were embittered and did not know what was happening. One said that he had been so loyal to the German fatherland, to the “great German Reich” and suddenly this was what they were doing to him.

Q. How did the Gypsies live in Auschwitz? Were they in a family camp?

A. Yes.

Q. Was that something exceptional in Auschwitz?

A. Yes. After the Czech camp in Theresienstadt, there was this family camp in Auschwitz and that was the last; we actually had a maternity home, where babies were born, and they received their tattoo mark on the day of their birth, on their little arms. A Politischer Aufnahmeschreiber would come under SS supervision and made the tattoo mark. For Gypsies there was a special numbering method with the letter “Z” (for Zigeuner) Z1, Z2, 2000. When they made a tattoo mark on me, I asked: “What is this for? I do not understand.” And then they told me: “So that your body can be identified.”

Q. What was your number?
Last edited by David Thompson on 06 Jun 2004 03:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 Jun 2004 02:55

Part 2 (final):
Q. What was your number?

A. Haeftling (Prisoner) 100736.

Q. What happened to the Gypsies in the camp?

A. It was obvious that diseases would break out in the camp. And here I have to dwell on their specific illnesses, illnesses that we did not come across with the “whites”. In contrast to the Gypsies in the camp at Birkenau, it was the practice here to have a “camp for the whites” and a “camp for the Gypsies,” without any intention of discrimination. There were illnesses that we had not encountered amongst the “whites”. The doctors had never seen this in normal times when they practised their profession.

Q. It would be better to refer to “a camp for others.” There is an unpleasant taste to it - let us rather talk of a camp for Gypsies and camps for others, with your permission. There were diseases amongst the Gypsies that you did not come across with other prisoners. What were these diseases?

A. Apart from the so-called commonplace illnesses, which destroyed and wiped out other camps, two illnesses broke out in the Gypsies’ camp which we did not understand and which we could not explain. This has never been scientifically diagnosed. One of them was diagnosed, but Mengele took the documents with him showing why it was actually amongst the Gypsies that the disease of varicella broke out. It was a kind of chickenpox which resembled smallpox, with a fatal process, which led to the deaths of hundreds. We stood by helplessly, and apart from bandaging the entire body with paper bandages, we could not do anything for them. It is of interest that one doctor...we witnessed one such case in a child recently, actually in May, and gave it publicity. It is called “Varicella Varioloformis” - that is to say, chickenpox resembling smallpox but it was not smallpox.

Presiding Judge: By chance these matters are of interest to me, but I am doubtful whether this medical explanation is relevant to our case.

Witness Beilin: Let us proceed to the second illness which is more interesting.

Presiding Judge: All of it is interesting, but that is not the issue.

Witness Beilin: This was, as it were, experimental work. The second illness was “Noma” - in German it is called “Wasserkrebs”. The illness is gangrene. It begins with an inflammation of the mucuous membrane of the cheek and leads to a gangrenous condition of the tissue and perforation of the cheek through which the tongue and teeth are visible. The problem is linked to external undernourishment and it attacks children and young people.

Attorney General: Perhaps you would allow me somewhat to guide you. The disease spread among the Gypsies. Mengele suggested to the medical team that they should conduct some scientific research, and was Professor Epstein of Oslo one of them?

Witness Beilin: Not actually for this illness. He allowed him to chose his subject. He said to him - this is what Prof. Epstein told us - “We are enemies - you will not get out of here. If you will perform scientific work for me and I publish it in my name, you will prolong your own life.” And Epstein did not want to do so.

Presiding Judge: Who said that to him?

A. Mengele said so.

Q. Was this stated in your presence?

A. It was said when Epstein returned to us.

Attorney General: Epstein told you that a suggestion had been made to him to undertake scientific work?

Witness Beilin: He did not want to do so. Until we convinced him that this provided an opening for help. And if an opening for help was provided, we should at least concentrate on the children suffering from “Namo”.

Q. Did you carry out some research work?

A. Mengele agreed. Epstein suggested to him that in scientific work which was to have some basis, there ought to be an increased diet and medicines, and Mengele provided these.

Q. And you treated these sick children with medicines and food, until their fate was like that of all the inmates of this camp?

A. There were some very successful cases. I remember one Czech girl - Zdenka Ruzyczka - a girl aged eleven, where we managed to achieve the closing of the perforation, a very unusual and very rare achievement. Naturally all these papers were taken away from Prof. Epstein that very day. Incidentally, he was warned that if there should be a bomb attack he would have to protect this work as he would his life. And that morning, Mengele came and took all the papers away from him. We were not at all aware of what was going on.

Q. What happened to the Gypsies’ camp?

A. On that same morning Mengele selected about six hundred Gypsies, those who were fit for work, or who were willing to be separated from their families. They went to the transport and even waved their hands from the train to the women and children who remained in the camp. Mengele made a speech to the families, saying that the men were going off to work and that they would return and rejoin them.

Q. The six hundred?

A. Yes, the six hundred. He said: “You are in trustworthy hands, you will be well looked after here.”

Q. Did you personally hear this speech?

A. Yes. And the same evening trucks came and began emptying out the camp. They started with the block which was called “The Orphanage.” There were many children whose parents had died, and they were concentrated with their nurses in a special block. It was immediately opposite the block in which I worked. When the block had been emptied, an SS man said to me: “Go and put out the light there.” As long as there was a light on the Lagerstrasse, the camp street of the block, he could see who was a Jew, who was a doctor and who was a Gypsy. As soon as I had put out the light and wanted to cross the camp street which was immediately opposite, I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder with the command “Herauf” (Get up here). That was from the truck with these children. At the last minute I said “Ich bin ein Jude”(I am a Jew). The reply came “Also ein Jude, hast du noch ein paar Wochen Zeit. Marsch ins Block!” (If you are a Jew you still have a few weeks left. March to your block!)

Presiding Judge: Which unit did Mengele belong to?

Witness Beilin: SS.

Q. What was his rank?

A. Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Josef Mengele.

Q. He was a doctor?

A. Although I did not hear it directly, it was said that he had two doctorates - of philosophy and of medicine.

Attorney General: What happened to those who remained? What happened to the Gypsies who remainded apart from the six hundred who were sent off?

Witness Beilin: They did not survive.

Q. Were the others loaded on to trucks and transferred to the gas chambers?

A. Yes, they were loaded on to the trucks and taken to the gas chambers. The entire camp was emptied out. Thereafter, Hungarian Jews came in their place. While it was still a Gypsy camp, half of its capacity, the second row of blocks, was filled by Hungarian Jews. As soon as all the Gypsies had been liquidated, Hungarian Jews also came to the Krankenbau (the sick ward) for treatment, together with Hungarian doctors - I remember them from Klausenburg - they were very nice people. Those were very traditional Jews, and on the Day of Atonement - I was still with the remnants of the Gypsies’ camp - a public prayer meeting took place in the block where they worked.

In Birkenau there was a “Goebbels Calendar.” The “Goebbels Calendar” implied that, on every Sabbath day and on every Jewish Festival, the sick ward and also the blocks, the resting blocks, with the Muselmann, who did not go out to work, were emptied out. We had forgotten on the eve of the Day of Atonement - this was the year 1944 - that this was one of the days of the “Goebbels Calendar.”

Presiding Judge: What did that mean?

Witness Beilin: It meant that on every Sabbath day and on every Jewish Festival, including Purim and Hanukka, they would always empty the sick ward of its patients, and also the blocks for Muselmann, and thereafter transfer them to the gas chambers.

This happened in the middle of the Kol Nidrei prayer, when the trucks arrived. I remember the shouts of a youth aged sixteen who was seized. He said something in Hungarian. A Hungarian doctor translated the words into German for me. I remember only that he said “Doctor Baczi” (these words meant “Uncle Doctor” - whenever they used a respectful form of address, they used the word “Baczi”). He said this, not to me, but to the Hungarian doctor. He said to him: “Uncle Doctor, if you meet my father, tell him that I died on the Day of Atonement.” When I asked for a translation of these words and he translated them for me, I asked the doctor: “What is the significance of the date?” He told me that, according to Jewish tradition, righteous people died on the Day of Atonement - that was his reply.

Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, had you already received information that your wife was in the women’s camp in Auschwitz, and that she was very ill and needed medicines?

Witness Beilin: Yes.

Q. And you managed to pass on to her a drug for the treatment of typhus?

A. No, it was a drug for strengthening the heart. There were no specific drugs for the treatment of typhus.

Q. And that some Polish woman through whom you smuggled the injection informed you the following day that your wife had died?

A. Yes. That was at Christmas time, the following day, 24 December 1943. Previously a letter from my wife had been smuggled to me. We had not been seized together and she remained in the ghetto for another six months. As I mentioned, I sent a postcard there - I took advantage of the opportunity of its being “the day for writing for all the prisoners except for Polish and Greek Jews.” I went to the writing room and asked for a postcard on the grounds that I was a Jew from the Reich. I was given the postcard, since Bialystok had been annexed to the Third Reich. This postcard was received in the ghetto. My wife got to know that I was in Auschwitz. She reached Auschwitz in a somewhat strange way.

Q. She belonged to the escort of 1,200 children from Bialystok who went to Theresienstadt, some of whom were later taken away to be exterminated?

A. Yes. The escort did not go into Theresienstadt but was brought to Auschwitz. After the children had entered Theresienstadt, when they alighted from the train under guard, on the road leading to the crematorium, Mengele met them and asked the guard: “What group is this?” He whispered something into his ear. This is what my wife wrote in the letter that was smuggled in by one of the doctors who was allowed to move from one camp to the other. He asked: “Are there any doctors here?” There was one doctor who, incidentally, was the founder of the Hebrew gymnasium in Bialystok, Dr. Katznelson. There were a number of female and male nurses. My wife was a pharmacist. He separated this party from the others and sent them back to the camp. That was in August, and my wife died from typhus a few months afterwards, in December 1943.

Q. Dr. Beilin, what means of disinfection were used in Auschwitz for disinfecting bedding and sheets?

A. Zyklon B. Zyklon B was the “blue acid” - cyanide. This cyanide was spread throughout the block after the prisoners had been driven out. They used to close the block hermetically, as far as possible, for the extermination of mice and for disinfection. Even the chimney of the block was covered with a blanket. An SS man would go inside with a gas- mask, and spread the cyanide crystals in all corners. We used to find them afterwards when we entered the block and had to sweep it. The blankets were immersed in a water solution of Zyklon B, and this solution was prepared in rusty bath tubs outside. We had to take these blankets, to remove them from the solution, to load them on to our shoulders and then take them to the block where we had to hang them up for drying.

Q. To whom does the “we” refer?

A. The Pfleger - the group of doctors and orderlies.

Q. Did something happen to you while carrying such a blanket?

A. Once my turn came to serve in this unit. I shouldered a large bundle. I noticed a smell of bitter almonds, but it was very slight, as I was in the open air.

Q. Is bitter almonds the characteristic smell...?

A. This is the characteristic smell of cyanide. It was very slight but we smelled it - exactly like bitter almonds. And when I opened my eyes, I found myself lying down, in another block obviously, and my colleagues were giving me artificial respiration. The question that interested them especially was: “How was it? As that is going to be our end, we would like to know if it hurt?”

Q. And you knew they used Zyklon B in the crematorium?

A. Yes, it was in tins. Each tin, in my estimate, contained five kilograms. On it there was a label which said: “Zur Ausrottung von Schaedlingen und Ungeziefer” (for the extermination of pests and vermin).

Attorney General [Shows the witness a book and points to one of its pages.] Can you identify this?

Witness Beilin: Yes. But here one cannot see the colours. The tin was painted in gold colour. That is to say, it was given a covering with some material which had the colour of gold or copper. It shone.

Attorney General: I submit this book. This is the German translation of the Polish Report on Auschwitz. We did not prepare a Hebrew translation, as we knew there was an official German translation, I shall submit it at this stage and refer to it later.

Witness Beilin: I would like to draw the Court’s attention to the fact that, if this should be produced as evidence, there are two kinds of containers here. One kind which has a folding top is made of cardboard, and the second kind is of tin. I saw the second kind.

Presiding Judge: On what page does it appear?

Witness Beilin: Page 152.

Attorney General: Did you hear the expression “Pappendeckel” (cardboard cover) applied to these containers?

Presiding Judge: Do you have another copy?

Attorney General: We shall give one to Dr. Servatius.

Presiding Judge: What about the two judges?

Attorney General: We do not have any. There are two copies at Yad Vashem, and we were given these two booklets. I am sorry.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1329.

Attorney General: These were cardboard containers, you say?

Witness Beilin: I saw the other kind - of tin.

Q. You saw the tins, but not the “Pappendeckel?”

A. No.

Q. When you were in the Gypsies’ camp did you see Jewish boys on whose sexual organs experiments had been conducted?

A. Yes - on one occasion they were brought to us, and this was an exceptional case, for generally they did not treat non-Gypsies, nor did they come into the Gypsies’ camp; this was an exceptional case in which they brought forty Greek Jewish boys - very handsome and very young - evidently they had been specially selected; the area around their genitals had signs of burns - these were X-ray burns.

Q. What camp did they come from?

A. From Auschwitz 1. And then I heard from them, for the first time, the name of Dr. Schumann. This name was mentioned by them as the one who had performed it on them; at any rate they came to us for treatment and were placed in a special Stube (ward) - it was not a room but part of a block with bunks, and there we tried all the limited standard ointments in our possession, for even in normal times X-ray burns did not generally heal. Some SS doctor used to come together with Dr. Mengele and they would come from time to time and order us to remove the bandages so that they could inspect the condition of the wounds. One day they took them to a truck, wrapped in blankets, and in this way they disappeared.

Q. Where to?

A. I don’t know, but a naked person on a truck, wrapped in a blanket in Birkenau invariably meant gassing.

Q. Do you also know about cases of castration?

A. I saw a healthy boy at work, and he told me that he had been castrated; he even allowed me to examine him. I told him that there was no possible help in such a case, but he said: “I want you to see what they are doing to us.”

Q. Do you remember a Rapportfuehrer by the name of Schillinger, an SS man?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he do?

A. This Schillinger - in all the atrocities that existed in Birkenau he was the limit - he was simply a murderer who killed his victims with his own hands, and in particular, as I have related, when food was distributed; he apparently also took part in the reception of transports to the crematorium, because something happened and it filtered down to us via the Sonderkommando. I have only to point out that the Sonderkommando was a closed unit with which we had no contact apart from the doctor. The doctor had permission to move around and he came to the clinic to put medicine into his knapsack, and he used to accompany the Sonderkommando each time at its work. And this doctor used to bring us news, and brought us information that Schillinger had been killed by a woman from one of the transports which, according to accounts, was a transport of foreign nationals who had been gathered together in Warsaw, in the Polonia Hotel, and ultimately they came to Auschwitz.

Q. Jews?

A. Yes. Jews possessing foreign citizenship. And this Schillinger told the women to undress, and one woman said she did not undress in front of men. In consequence of this he raised his whip, his cane - he always walked around with a cane - and he wanted to strike her. At this point, she drew a revolver and killed him with one shot. From the time we received this information Schillinger never appeared in the camp, naturally, because he had been killed. It was one of the doctors who told us this.

Q. Was that Dr. Globersohn?

A. No, it was Dr. Pach.

Q. Was Dr. Globersohn the doctor of the Sonderkommando?

A. The second, yes.

Q. Tell us the story of Dr. Globersohn.

A. The commander of the Sonderkommando was Hauptscharfuehrer Moll. He also received the transports for bathing in the famous “Sauna” and he would beat those amongst them who possessed too much jewellery and gold. I was with them and heard him say: “As much as these Jews have been persecuted - they nevertheless have too much money.” He was in charge of crematoria Nos 1, 2, 3 and 4. Every three months, when there was a roll-call before him, he would make a selection - every three months he would liquidate the Sonderkommando and choose a new Sonderkommando.

Q. Were those the men who dealt with the burning of the bodies?

A. Yes. Once I saw Hauptscharfuehrer Moll in the Gypsies’ camp from a distance - everybody recognized him for each person knew that if he were to be selected that meant three months and no more. On the other hand, the doctor of the previous Sonderkommando had been lucky, in some way, in being discharged from the Sonderkommando and he was transferred with a transport to some kind of transport for work. He vanished from the camp but we regarded him as one who had been discharged from the Sonderkommando.

In the Gypsies’ camp I saw Moll walking and then I knew that while he was going to select a Sonderkommando he was not going to select it from among the Gypsies, for only Jews were selected for that; apart from that there was no time for a roll-call and he was not going just to seize anybody in the blocks - he made his selection in an organized way at the roll-call - but I nevertheless preferred to hide. I hid in the toilet. When I came out, I was told that Dr. Globersohn had been taken by Hauptscharfuehrer Moll as the doctor of the Sonderkommando. He asked him: “What are you doing here, doctor? Come with me.”

Q. Two days later he returned to you?

A. Two days later Dr. Globersohn, who had been a doctor in Belgium, a native of Pinsk, who had studied and had his practice in Belgium, was brought to us, poisoned and unconscious. We knew that he had taken an overdose of sleeping-pills and he bore signs of having received blows, terrible signs of hemorrhages and wounds. When they brought him to the camp he was dying - there was no need to strike him - he would have died anyhow. Moll came there and beat him to death saying: “You want to avoid your duties and to die, you Jewish swine (Saujude)?” That was how Gobersohn died.

Q. Do you remember what happened in January 1945?

A. After the camp was liquidated and after the Hungarians were also no longer there, I was transferred to Section (Abschnitt) F. This was opposite Section E where the Gypsies were. That was the Krankenbau for all the other camps. I worked there until 17 January 1945. I found there many Polish medical colleagues, many friends whom I had first met at university, fellow-students; amongst them there were also some who today are in the Polish Government. On 17 January 1945...we knew that on 11 January the last Russian offensive had begun and they had crossed the Vistula. We thought that we were not far from the Vistula and that we would be liberated, but that was a vain hope. On 17 January 1945 they woke us during the night: “Alle Pfleger antreten” (All medical orderlies are to report). Of course we all reported and immediately they ordered us “Rechts um, Marsch!” (Right turn - march); it was at the height of the winter.

Q. Where were you taken to?

A. They led us to the Stammlager (main camp) which was in Birkenau, at a distance of some five to seven kilometres, and that was where I saw Drechsler, the woman supervisor of the women’s camp. She also stood there with a SS group, and there they gathered together a group of 15,000 persons. That is to say, there were ten groups of 1,500 each. In each group the proportion of the guard to the group was one in twenty-five, which means that there were 600 SS men in charge of these groups. Along the road where we began walking, the first station was Gleiwitz - we were walking through Lower Silesia. The second station was Ratibor and then we were joined by prisoners who had been evacuated from camps in the vicinity - from Laurahuette, Koenigshuette, Jaworzno, Janina, Czechowitz...

Q. Were all these branches of Auschwitz-Birkenau?

A. Yes.

Q. In your opinion how many people did this complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau contain, with all its satellite camps?

A. In my modest estimate, about 160,000. My calculation is based on the number of groups that were evacuated. In my group there were 25,000 persons, I heard, after the liberation, of other death marches containing 25,000, and the women’s camps. In my opinion there ought to have been there - that was also the number generally accepted amongst the prisoners - 160,000 in constant rotation. After all, everything was in transit - transports departed and new ones arrived. And here began the tragedy of those 25,000 people of whom I was one.

Q. Perhaps you could describe it briefly?

A. Those who could not walk were shot. That was called a “mercy shot”; a man would leave the ranks, sit down at the edge of the road and he would be given a “mercy shot.” In Auschwitz, generally speaking in Birkenau, they were not shot - they said “it is a pity to waste a bullet on a Jew,” but on the march - they were shot.

And we started to count the shots. The column was a long one, 25,000 persons. We could only judge by the number of shots, and we knew that each shot meant a life. There were days when the number of shots reached five hundred and the further we marched, the number of shots increased. We had no strength left, we were without food, we slept in stables and not only in stables. And there were people who had been through all the seven stages of hell and who were on the verge of liberation. On one occasion they put us into a certain bunker in Landeshut in Lower Silesia - today it is called Kamienna Gora in Polish. On the entrance to the bunker it said “Entry forbidden by order of the Police.” Since it was almost sunset we did not notice this sign - we did so only on the morning after the tragedy. It was a very long bunker like a labyrinth with lanes leading off to the sides.

Presiding Judge: A bunker for what - against air-raids?

Witness Beilin: A concrete bunker.

Q. But a bunker for what purpose?

A. We subsequently learned that this was a bunker for uranium mines, but we only learned that later, after the tragedy. Half-an-hour after we entered - the door was closed and locked, it had a very narrow door - we began feeling that we had no air, that there was a lack of air there. The groups which were far from the door felt this much more and then the tragic shouts began - “Luft” (Air) - and naturally the SS men did not open the door until six a.m. We remained shut in there until six in the morning. We were then about 5,000 out of the 25,000.

Q. Did they put all 25,000 in there?

A. By then we were only 5,000. And the next morning, when they opened the doors, we removed 1,000 bodies from there. It was truly death by suffocation, in horrible positions, naked, on their knees and with their mouths on the concrete floor, where they tried to breath in air, since the concrete was porous - amongst them there were many doctors. In our transport, when we set out, there were twenty-seven doctors; three of us remained and all of us are in Israel. Very few survived from this entire transport, since we left, along the way, many frozen to death; many were shot and died on the way. This I learned subsequently, for I was separated from this transport in a group of chemists. I saw that if I continued with this transport it would be the end of me, and I decided to get away from this wretched march. At one of the places, the commander of the march called for chemists, and I said that I was a chemist. He asked me: “What is the formula for water?” I replied to him: “H2O,” and he said “That’s fine - you may go.” In this way I became a chemist. The transport commander was Hauptscharfuehrer Schultze and he annihilated these 25,000, he and his men, he and his guards. After we had removed the bodies from this bunker, a police officer arrived and I heard how the police officer, a lieutenant, shouted at the transport commander: “How could you dare put people into a bunker on which it says expressly ‘Entry forbidden by order of the Police’?” He said this in great anger. The commander of the march answered him with a smile:

“Lieutenant, they are only Jews.” And then he said: “I see - that’s in order,” and he went away.

Q. Did you personally hear this?

A. Yes, for I was dragging bodies and I passed near them while they were talking together. And that was a lie, for it was a mixed transport, there were Poles, Germans, Czechs, not only Jews, but they atoned for all the atrocities with the word “Jews”.

And so, I said that I was a chemist, and I went off by train with a group of thirty chemists. At the place where we parted from the transport only about one thousand people still remained alive.
This was in Krumholz, near Liebental in Lower Silesia - this place is called Krassnegora in Polish. On the way we dug anti-tank trenches and shelters for the army; this, too, was one of the methods of extermination of this transport, which was without food, without clothing, without sleep. When we arrived on this train, we asked our guard where he was taking the chemists to and he replied: “They are going to Flossenbuerg to forge dollars.”

But he took us off at Reichenau, near Gablonz in the Sudeten area. There was a camp there where no Jew had ever been. It was a small camp of Gross-Rosen, and it had a plant for radio sets. The plant was called “Goetterland”. The whole camp worked for the factory of radio sets. Electricians, technicians and specialists in fine mechanics were working there.

We were the first Jews. Naturally we were full of lice - they had not been taken to a march, they were more or less clean - and we were obliged - all thirty of us - to sleep outside. We were sent away to the Baukolonne (Building Detachment). That was the only hard labour in this camp. We built a villa for the camp commandant, and we had to pave the road. And then something happened to me.

A Czech woman gave me a piece of bread. We returned to the camp. He ordered us to undress. I put the bread on top of my pile of clothes, since I knew that in Birkenau there was no punishment for possessing bread. I did not understand that there was a difference between that bread and this bread: in Birkenau it was “army bread” and here it was “freedom bread.” And when he looked at this bread and asked “whom does this belong to?” and when I said that it belonged to me, he said: “Make an injection” (Abspritzen). I stood there, naked, two prisoners held my arms and I did not understand what this was about. In Auschwitz I had heard about this, but I did not know what it was. He ordered them to bring a syringe. But he was told it was not there - it had been given to the SS hospital. He said to me: “Get dressed” and “Forward march.” He threw my bread into the refuse bin, it was some kind of refuse pit. When I asked later what was supposed to have happened, it was explained to me that in this camp they used to make a petrol injection into the heart. And this was not done by a doctor but by the SS man himself - his name was Braun. Two or three days before the liberation, we were set free from this camp. We could not walk any further, for the road seemed to be blocked. Meanwhile, of those thirty, who were all Jews, ten remained - twenty had died. Of these ten who survived, six died after the liberation in the municipal hospital in Gablonz, and only four remained alive.

Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, of all the twenty-five thousand who left Auschwitz together with you, how many survived after the War?

Witness Beilin: When I left the transport at Krumholz there were one thousand persons. I did not know what happened to them. After the liberation I was told by the doctor who remained with this group until the end - he now lives in Tel Aviv - that one hundred and nine persons survived, and of these one hundred and nine, forty-three died after the liberation.

Attorney General: What caused their death?

A. Firstly, some were found to have tuberculosis. Then, they had no strength left. They began eating to excess and apparently without proper supervision. Instead of being given their nourishment gradually and becoming accustomed to normal food, they started overeating and as a result contracted diarrhoea.

Q. In all, about sixty people remained alive?

A. Yes.

Q. Out of the twenty-five thousand who were there when you left Auschwitz-Birkenau?

A. Yes. I only want to add that I lost consciousness. For three days...I was in a state of semi-consciousness. I became a Muselmann. I began to visualize good food and I knew that this was the sign. When I was already in this state of semi-consciousness they did not force me to go out to the building detachment, but I had to scrub the floor of the block.

Once I was sitting there, scrubbing the floor and I noticed a pair of SS boots approaching towards me. Naturally, I automatically rose - “”Muetze ab” (cap off) and I saw Mengele. He recognized me in my present condition, despite the fact that I - certainly - did not resemble my original self. This was three days before the liberation. He knew that the War was lost. He asked me: “Was machen Sie hier?” (What are you doing here?) I told him: “I am scrubbing the floor.” And he walked away, saying: “Weitermachen” (Carry on doing it). I was sure - despite the fact that I was semi- conscious, I was half-dead, I could not feel the tips of my fingers, the tip of my nose, the tip of my jaw and my legs were swollen - I knew these manifestations well and I was sure that he would be looking for me.

I knew that he would want to get rid of the witness who had been present at the time of the liquidation of the Gypsies’ camp. I don’t know if he really searched for me or not, because that same night I was placed in the Sterbeblock (hut for dying people). When I opened my eyes I was in the city hospital in Gablonz on the river Neisse - this was four days after the liberation. I was amongst the medical personnel, in a separate room, with a white bed and even with flowers on the cupboard.

Q. What occupying army was it?

A. I was liberated, so my friends told me - there were eighty persons there, Poles, Russians and Jews who had originally been liberated by the Czech partisans who appeared on 9 March, and, that night, the Red Army entered.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions to the witness.

Judge Raveh: Dr. Beilin, I do not know whether I understood you correctly; when you first came to Auschwitz, you did not work as a doctor?

Witness Beilin: No, not in the quarantine and later on, too, I did not work as a doctor. It was a special case if someone was chosen to work as a doctor. The selection of doctors was carried out by the Haeftlings-Oberarzt (the Prisoners’ Chief Doctor). He himself was a Polish prisoner whose name was Zangfele. This Roman Zangefele chose me whenever necessary. An interesting point: Since my diploma had been torn up in the “Sauna”, when he selected me for the clinic he asked my one question: “Have you encountered spot typhus?” I replied: “Yes.” Then he said to me: “You are lying - there was no spot typhus in Poland.” He had forgotten that in the meanwhile, the Soviets had been in this part of Poland for two years and they had brought us typhus.

Q. How did he pick you out?

A. One has to bear in mind that the mortality rate of doctors was also very high. They were not used to hard labour and if they did not work in their profession they died. They were tortured and died, particularly as the authority over them was in the hands of criminals who especially suppressed the intellectuals - not only the doctors, but doctors as well. Hence, when there were few doctors in Birkenau, an order was issued to all blocks: “All nurses and doctors are to report.” And then he made his selection from amongst these.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Dr. Beilin, you have concluded your testimony.

michael mills
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Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by michael mills » 06 Jun 2004 05:52

Some interesting points from Dr Beilin's testiony:

1. The typhus epidemic in Auschwitz was never fully suppressed, but continued to flare up from time to time.

The constant typhus infection must have caused a large ongoing death rate, consisting of those who actually died from typhus and those who were infected and immediately killed so as to prevent further infection (mush like the destruction of herds of cattle infected with foot-and-mouth disease).

2. The Gypsy camp was liquidated for the purpose of providing accommodation for the Hungarian Jews who were starting to come into the camp.

3. The effect of breathing in air containing even a small amount of HCN gas was instantaneous unconsciousness, confirming the swift and painless nature of death by gassing with Zyklon-B, and thus the description of such gassing as euthanasia.

4. The statement that the total number of prisoners in the camp was "160,000 in constant rotation", and that " everything was in transit - transports departed and new ones arrived", indicates the difficulty of making any sort of accurate estimate of the number of persons who perished in Auschwitz, either from natural causes or active killing. Although it is possible to make a reasonable estimate of the number of arrivals, it is less capacity for estimating how many died and how many left on departing transports.

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