TV Interview with SS-Untersturmfuehrer Hans Muench

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alf
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TV Interview with SS-Untersturmfuehrer Hans Muench

Post by alf » 17 Jul 2004 12:30

From http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/m/mue ... rview.html

The interview with a former SS Doctor stationed at Auschwitz, what is possibly unique about Muench was he testifed in 1946, told the same testimony in the early 1960's at another trial and the same and again in the early 1980's for a neutral country's TV audience. No torture, no coercion

The doctor and former SS-Untersturmfuehrer Hans Muench was among the 40 members of the Auschwitz camp personnel indicted and tried in Krakow in Poland 1946-1947. The trial led to some 20 death sentences, but Muench was acquitted.

He had taken part in gassings but had refused to assist in the so-called selections. Some ex-prisoners also testified in his favour. After his release, Muench returned to Germany where he continued his medical practice. In 1964 he testified at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt am Main. He agreed to an interview with Swedish television in 1981, against the wish of his family. It has been broadcast twice on Swedish TV, in 1982 and 1992.
Excerpts from an interview with Dr. Hans Muench.

[...]
Muench: I received eight weeks of normal military training and then came to the Waffen-SS Institute for Hygiene in Berlin. That was the highest authority for all institutes of hygiene within the Waffen-SS. The Waffen-SS was considered to be on an equal footing with the German army. From Berlin I was ordered to Field Laboratory South-East, and this Field Laboratory South-East had been set up to deal with the diseases that had appeared in Auschwitz.

Swedish Television: So you came to Auschwitz? Did you know what Auschwitz was?

M: No! It was in 1943, in the spring, early summer. There I... That field laboratory had been established because of the diseases that were prevalent in the camp and that leaked out through the camp fence, and threatened the men and the civilian population. Expert bacteriological research had to be conducted and adequate measures taken. That was our task.

ST: Not to save the prisoners?

M: By no means...There was the possibility, but the risk for a major epidemic among those close to 100 000 people in unhygienic conditions and in a not too hygienic environment...

ST: The purpose was to save the personnel?

M: Yes, and the surroundings. The town of Auschwitz was not far away. A major epidemic would certainly have erupted. [...] During my time, the crematories were used several times a week to burn the corpses that came. Soon after my arrival, at the latest towards the end of the summer, transports came that were exterminated and Auschwitz was then used as an extermination camp.

ST: The camp that was seven kilometers from Auschwitz was Birkenau, right?

M: Yes, five or seven kilometers. Next to the camp Birkenau was the machinery of extermination.

ST: How do you know that the extermination there was carried out with gas?

M: When one's professional task is to inspect the hygienic conditions of the camp and one has to pass through the camp it was impossible not to notice.

ST: Did you see the crematories yourself?

M: Yes, of course. It wasn't part of my daily routine, but it was impossible to avoid it, even if I hadn't known what it was. Everybody active in the SS in Auschwitz knew of course what the crematories were, and it was impossible not to notice the smoke and the chimneys and feel the smell. In the SS the use of gas was discussed quite openly.

ST: Were doctors present at the gassings?

M: They had to be present. According to strict regulations they had to be present, as in civilized states at every normal individual execution for legal reasons. In the same way there was a military order that at least one doctor had to be present at exterminations by gas in Auschwitz, for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing had to be under medical supervision. And the gas wasn't thrown in by the regular camp personnel but by the camp doctors' medical orderlies.

[...]

ST: When you were off-duty you spoke about this? About special treatment, about the gassing?

M: It was discussed very intensely, hardly ideologically, whether it was ideologically correct to exterminate the Jews, but rather the technical problems that always occur at this overstraining of the camp.

ST. You refused to participate in it. Could you say so openly?

M: I had nothing to do with it in the first place. I was ordered there and belonged to the Hygienic Institute. One has to explain those bureaucratic things precisely...

ST: I understand that, but did you discuss it with each other?

M: Yes, very intensely, also ideologically.

ST: Did you object to it, for example because of medico-ethical reasons?

M: Yes, exactly. Among doctors we could discuss it openly, like we talk about it today. There was no limit at all. Outwardly you were completely isolated. Everybody knew very well that among civilians or military personnel he should never say a word. I was for instance often in Plaszow... No, not in Plaszow. It was a training camp for the Waffen-SS, near Krakow. It was also important, a military camp. There I ate in the messroom, the officers' mess. There were SS doctors and SS officers too. "Do you come from Auschwitz?" - everybody wanted to know how it was there. "Is it really like that? One hears the most horrible things." It was very difficult to be evasive. I would never have dared to tell any SS officer, who still had to be considered an "insider", anything at all about Auschwitz. In Auschwitz it was completely different.

ST: There you could dissociate yourself from it?

M: Absolutely.

ST: What objections did your colleagues have who were for it?

M: "Is it necessary to do this in the middle of the war? There will be time for it later." "One should try to get as big a work force as possible. It would be better if the people were fed better." That was one view. Then there was the opposite view. "It has to be done at once. If we wait any longer there will be objections, and there are those who are against it."

ST: From a purely technical point of view, people were against it? And economically?

M: That was the main problem.

ST: But ideologically?

M: Ideologically...

ST: The majority was for it?

M: The majority of the doctors were against it from a purely technical point of view, and also because of economic reasons.

ST: But ideologically in favour?

M. Ideologically nobody differed.

ST: What was the ideology?

M: Simply National Socialism, as expounded by [Alfred] Rosenberg. The Germanic race was the future of the world and a guarantee against corruption and mismanagement and for keeping our Europe pure. The root cause of every evil in culture, of every degeneracy was the Jews, which is clear from the fact that the Jews weren't tolerated already in the Middle Ages. There must have been good reasons to put them into ghettos. There were constant pogroms, not only in Germany, in the whole of Europe. That is because the Jewish race is a destructive factor. There is no development, no peace, nothing worth living for when the Jews have a finger in the pie.

ST: Therefore they must be exterminated?

M: Because it hasn't succeeded so far in spite of all the severe measures, but they continually take hold of decisive posts in the economy, in the state, in cultural life. It has to be stopped. That can be done only by total physical extermination.

[...]

ST: Isn't the ideology of extermination contrary to a doctor's ethical values?

M: Yes, absolutely. There is no discussion. But I lived in that environment, and I tried in every possible way to avoid accepting it, but I had to live with it. What else could I have done? And I wasn't confronted with it directly until the order came that I and my superior and another one had to take part in the exterminations since the camp's doctors were overloaded and couldn't cope with it.

ST: I must ask something. Doubters claim that "special treatment" could mean anything. It didn't have to be extermination.

M: "Special treatment" in the terminology of the concentration camp means physical extermination. If it was a question of more than a few people, where nothing else than gassing them was worth while, they were gassed.

ST: "Special treatment" was gassing?

M: Yes, absolutely.

ST: And "selection".

M: That was the selection of those who were still fit for work and those who were no longer economically useful.

ST: Doctors made the "selection"?

M: It was supposed to be that way, but it was impossible considering the number.

In 1995 he signed the folowing declaration http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/m/mue ... ation.html

Hans Münch
The Auschwitz Declaration

January 27, 1995



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I, Dr. Hans Munch hereby attest that, as an SS physician on duty in Auschwitz in 1944, I witnessed the selection process of those who were to live and those who were to die. Other SS physicians on duty in the camps made selections at the platform where the transports arrived. They also made selections in the barracks. I was exempt from performing selections because I had refused to do so.

I further attest that I saw thousands of people gassed here at Auschwitz. Children, old people, the sick and those unable to work were sent to the gas chambers. These were innocent human beings: Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Hitler's political opponents - anyone who did not fit Hitler's idea of a pure Aryan race.

I am signing this paper of my own free will to help document the cruel intolerance of my fellow SS.

I, a former SS physician, witnessed the dropping of Zyklon B into simulated exhaust vents from outside the gas chambers. Zyklon B began to work as soon as it was released from the canisters. The effects of the gas were observed through a peephole by an assigned doctor or the SS officer on duty. After three to five minutes, death could be certified, and the doors were opened as a sign that the corpses were cleared to be burned.

This is the nightmare I continue to live with fifty years later.

I am so sorry that in some way I was part of it. Under the prevailing circumstances I did the best I could to save as many lives as possible. Joining the SS was a mistake. I was young. I was an opportunist. And once I joined, there was no way out.

(signed)
Dr. Hans Munch
January 27, 1995, Auschwitz

(6 witnesses)

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Post by alf » 17 Jul 2004 12:34

some more from his 1946 testimony
Testimony of Dr. Hans W. Muench
Trials of War Criminals, Vol. VIII. p. 313-321




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q. What was your first impression of Auschwitz when you arrived?

A. I had already heard about extermination camps, and particularly extermination camps for Jews, through reports over the Swiss radio that I listened to regularly in the preceding years, but since I considered this news to be propaganda, I did not believe it at the time, because the facts that were being described seemed too terribly outrageous to me. When I arrived in Auschwitz, and had to convince myself personally that these reports were not exaggerated, I was very much shaken emotionally.

...

Q. Mr. witness, you were informed about the fact that human beings were gassed at Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

...

Q. Mr. witness, for what reason did you not spread the fact that human beings were being gassed and exterminated?

A. I was asked this very often and also before the Supreme Court of Cracow, and I can say in answer to it that that would have been a completely useless undertaking which would have very shortly caused me and my family to be liquidated very quickly, because the Gestapo was so well organized and the threats for nonobservance of the secrecy that surrounded the Auschwitz exterminations were so clearly worded for members of the SS that everybody avoided telling even his closest friend about it, because experience taught us that anybody who talked about it in any way was very quickly found because the Gestapo sniffed out every rumor very consistently that spread about Auschwitz.

...

Q. Mr. witness, what would you say if someone visited a plant in Auschwitz twice or three times a year for a period of one or two days? Would he then have to gain knowledge about these things?

A. I repeatedly witnessed guided tours of civilians and also of commissions of the Red Cross and other parties within the camp, and I was able to ascertain that the camp leadership arranged it masterfully to conduct these guided tours in such a way that the people being guided around did not see anything about inhuman treatment. The main camp was shown only and in this main camp there were so-called show blocks, particularly block 13, that were especially prepared for such guided tours and that were equipped like a normal soldier's barracks with beds that had sheets on them, and well-functioning washrooms.

...

Q. Mr. witness, did you personally ever witness the gassing of human beings?

A. Yes, I saw one gassing at one time.

...

Q. Mr. witness, you testified a little earlier that those who were sick in the camps, like in concentration camp Monowitz, would be sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, but I wasn't quite clear as to why they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I'd like to put just a question or two to you on that. Mr. witness, those people who were in the hospital at Monowitz and were shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau because of an edema or phlegmon, for what purpose were they shipped to Birkenau?

A. As far as these people were Jews, I must state that most of them were gassed.

Q. And, Mr. witness, if they were sent from the hospital in Monowitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and they were Jews; and they were sent because of weakness and collapse, why were they sent to Birkenau?

A. Also to be gassed.

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Lucius Felix Silla
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Post by Lucius Felix Silla » 17 Jul 2004 14:56

On Dr. Münch see also (german language):
http://vho.org/VffG/1997/3/RudMue3.html

On his declaration of 1995, see also (english language):
[Link deleted by moderator. See my following post - DT]

Best Regards

LFS

alf
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Post by alf » 17 Jul 2004 23:57

Quoting an extreme rightwing neo Nazi antisemitic group? What relevance do they have to serious research? Calling Muench a liar might make you feel good but they offer no real proof.....they never do
ATTITUDES TO THE HOLCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
In 1997 the Belgium government appointed a commission to locate property confiscated from Jewish Holocaust victims.
The Belgium-based European Foundation for Free Historical Research (Vrij Historisch Onderzoek -- VHO), headed by Siegfried Verbeke, is one of the main distributors of Holocaust denial maerial in the world today (see previous reports). This is in spite of the fact that Belgium passed a law in 1995 making Holocaust denial illegal. VHO maintains strong links with individuals and organizations in several countries, such as Radio Islam in Sweden, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) in California, and the Australian Adelaide Institute. VHO publishes, translates and disseminates Holocaust denial publications from all over the world, mainly through its widely-linked website on the Internet. Recently, Verbeke began propagating on his website the quarterly Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung (Quarterly for Free Historical Research), a forum for Holocaust denial in German. He distributes books and pamphlets that are banned in Germany (see Germany). German Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf, who fled to Spain to avoid serving a prison sentence, is one of Verbeke's favorite authors. His publications, translated into several languages can be downloaded from the VHO-website
http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw97-8/belgium.html

edited once as my quotations didnt work...sorry

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Post by David Thompson » 18 Jul 2004 02:09

Muench (Münch), Dr. med. Hans (1911-?) [SS-Untersturmführer (The Camp Men p. 165) or SS-Obersturmführer (Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - SS personnel serving at Auschwitz", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/ss-camp-auschwitz.htm).] -- service, Waffen-SS Hygeine Institute; service, concentration camp (Konzentrationslager - KL) Auschwitz 1944; service, KL Dachau 1945 {arrested and put on trial 24 Nov 1947 by the Polish Supreme People's Court at Cracow ("the Oswiecim trial") along with 41 other members of the KL Auschwitz staff and administration on charges of mistreatment and mass murder of allied nationals; acquitted 22 Dec 1947 and subsequently released (NYT 23 Dec 1947:11:1; Camp Men p. 165; Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - Auschwitz Trial", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/warcr ... chwitz.htm; Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - SS personnel serving at Auschwitz", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/ss-camp-auschwitz.htm).}

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Post by David Thompson » 18 Jul 2004 02:11

The second link -- an article titled "Just Another Auschwitz Liar" -- is just an unsubstantiated, slimy libel. The author didn't even have the courage to sign it. For that reason I have deleted the link, because it might subject the forum to a lawsuit for republishing such material.

LFS -- Do not post links to unsigned and defamatory rants here again.

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Post by David Thompson » 18 Jul 2004 16:54

A number of off-topic posts were deleted by the moderator. The subject is Dr. med. Hans Muench and his Auschwitz testimony. Stay on it.

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Re:

Post by Manstein » 19 Jul 2004 06:17

Muench (Münch), Dr. med. Hans (1911-?) [SS-Untersturmführer (The Camp Men p. 165) or SS-Obersturmführer (Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - SS personnel serving at Auschwitz", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/ss-camp-auschwitz.htm).] -- service, Waffen-SS Hygeine Institute; service, concentration camp (Konzentrationslager - KL) Auschwitz 1944; service, KL Dachau 1945 {arrested and put on trial 24 Nov 1947 by the Polish Supreme People's Court at Cracow ("the Oswiecim trial") along with 41 other members of the KL Auschwitz staff and administration on charges of mistreatment and mass murder of allied nationals; acquitted 22 Dec 1947 and subsequently released (NYT 23 Dec 1947:11:1; Camp Men p. 165; Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - Auschwitz Trial", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/warcr ... chwitz.htm; Marcus Wendel and Dean Robson, "Third Reich Factbook - SS personnel serving at Auschwitz", http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/ss-camp-auschwitz.htm).}
Münch died in 2001.

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Post by David Thompson » 19 Jul 2004 07:31

Thanks, Manstein. I'll add the DoD to my Muench entry.

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Rauli
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Post by Rauli » 23 Jul 2004 11:46

When I´m reading Dr. Münch statments from 90´s I get the impression that he took part atleat one (as an observer?) gassing. In Gitta Serenys Speer book he said that he walked past during a gassing and heard "soft voices" from gas chamber(s). He adds more details in these later statements.

That might explain why he was so reluctant to participate more. Of course he wouldn´t had said anything on Cracow trial or during his active worklife.

Just my thoughts

Regards

edit: Dammit my mistake. He said it in the trial. Sorry, I should have read more carefully.

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