Translation was done by Roberto Muehlenkamp.
Pruefer, 5 Mar., 1946:
Pruefer, 5 Mar., 1946:[...]Question: In what respects do the crematoria for the concentration camps differ from the civilian ones?
Answer: In the civilian crematoria there was an introduction opening (muffle) for burning of the corpse, in rare cases two. In the crematoria for the concentration camps there were three introduction openings. The size of the introduction openings at the crematoria for concentration camps is smaller - 70 x 70 cm -, the length is two meters, as opposed to two meters and thirty centimeters in civilian crematoria.
Instead of a rolling car on rails, on which the corpse inside a coffin goes into the introduction opening, in the crematoria for the concentration camps the corpse is inserted on a hand-carried litter without a coffin.
In the civilian crematoria, heated air is previously introduced by means of a special bellow, which leads the corpse to burn more quickly and without smoke.
The construction of the crematoria for the concentration camps is different; it does not allow for previously heating the air, for which reason the corpse burns more slowly and generating smoke. In order to reduce the smoke as well as the smell of the burning corpse, a ventilation is used.
Question: What number of corpses could be burned at Auschwitz per hour in one crematorium?
Answer: In one crematorium, which had five ovens or fifteen muffles, fifteen corpses were burned in one hour.
Question: Since when did you personally receive the task of building crematoria for the concentration camps?[...]
Pruefer, 19 Mar., 1946:[...]Question: What did you watch together with Schultze at Auschwitz camp?
Answer: I personally saw how an SS-woman with dogs chased female inmates into the barracks.
I also saw Jews who, under SS guard, dug earth with their hands and carried it from one place to another.
When I was in the crematorium, I myself saw, at about 10 hours in the morning, that on the floor lay up to 60 corpses of men and women of various ages, who had been prepared for incineration at the crematorium.
In my presence six corpses were burned, and I reached the conclusion that the ovens worked well.
Question: Did you see gas chambers next to the crematoria [vozle krematoriev]?
Answer: Yes, I saw a gas chamber from the outside; there was a wooden barracks, and from this there was a link to the gas chamber; from the gas chamber there was a link to the crematorium [schol derevjanyj barak, ot nevo bylo soobschtschenie s gaskameroi, ot gaskamery bylo soobschtschenie s krematoriem].
Question: Did you know that in the gas chambers and crematoria an extermination of completely innocent people was carried out?
Answer: Since the spring of 1943 I knew that at Auschwitz concentration camp completely innocent people were destroyed and their corpses then burned in the crematorium.
Question: What did Schultze Karl tell you about the corpses that you saw lying at the crematorium?
Answer: At that time, in the spring of 1943 in the morning in the crematorium, Schultze told me regarding the corpses of up to sixty men, women and children lying there, that they had been murdered in gas chambers.
Question: What equipment for the gas chambers did the company Topf design?
Answer: The gas chamber was initially called «room for corpses», where a ventilation was installed by the company Topf, but later it became clear that this was a gas chamber for killing people.
Question: Who was the constructor of ventilation installations in the gas chambers?
Answer: The constructor of ventilation installations in the gas chambers was Schultze, he installed them.
Question: Please do truthfully explain, why in the chimneys of the crematoria in Auschwitz camp the inner brick lining (Schamottverkleidung) crumbled so often!
Answer: The inner brick lining of the crematory chimneys in Auschwitz already started crumbling after half a year due to the colossal strain to which these crematoria were subject at the concentration camp.
Question: This means that, although you knew already in the spring of 1943 that the crematorium ovens constructed by you were used for destroying innocent people, you nevertheless kept on working in the area?
Answer: Yes, that is correct. Although I knew that the crematorium ovens constructed and built by myself were meant for the extermination of innocent people in the concentration camps, I nevertheless kept on working in this field and still visited the camps [plural] at Auschwitz twice.
Question: Did Willi Wimoli speak with you about living people being burned in the crematorium ovens?
Answer: Yes, there was such a conversation lately, I cannot exactly recall when, but I remember that I told him that this could not be true because the ovens were too small for this.
Question: What caused you to stay with the company Topf and to keep on working as constructor in building these crematoria even after you had learned that the crematoria constructed by you were meant for the killing of people?
Answer: I had a contract with the company Topf and understood that my work was very important for the National Socialist state and that, if I should give up this work, I would be destroyed by the Gestapo. Of this I was afraid, and I continued working as constructor and head of the department for crematorium building.
Pruefer, 11 Feb., 1948:[...]Question: How many crematoria were there at Auschwitz?
Answer: In Auschwitz concentration camp there were four crematoria, in which I installed twelve ovens which had been constructed and built by me. Of said crematoria two had one oven each, and the other two had five ovens each; in the latter engineer Schultze installed the ventilation installations.
Question: Were the crematoria tested during your stay at Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: Of the six times on which I visited Auschwitz concentration camp only once, at the beginning of 1943, the testing of two of the five new ovens installed in the crematorium which had been built by myself, was carried out. In all of them six corpses of men of various ages were burnt, and there in the crematorium also lay the corpses of women and children, who had been murdered in the gas chamber and were to be burned in the crematorium. The total number of corpses was about sixty.
Question: How did you participate in the killing of murdered, innocent victims?
Answer: I checked if the ovens in the crematorium installed by myself functioned.
Question: What conclusions did you draw?
Answer: I drew the conclusion that the ovens built by myself in the crematorium worked well and without failures.
Question: Who of the engineers and technicians among the personnel of the company Topf took part in the installation of the crematoria, besides yourself?
Answer: At the installation of the crematoria in the spring of 1943 engineer Schultze was present at the concentration camp, besides myself.
Question: What was Schultze’s part in the burning of the corpses?
Answer: Engineer Schultze’s part in the burning of the corpses of those murdered in the gas chambers consisted in his checking the ventilation installations in the crematorium during the burning of the corpses.
Question: How long were you at Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: More than two days after my trips to Auschwitz concentration camp I did not spend there.
Question: Did you go there in the spring of 1943 together with engineer Schultze?
Answer: No, to Auschwitz concentration camp engineer Schultze had already gone a few days before my arrival.
Question: Since when was it known to you that in the concentration camps innocent people were destroyed and burned?
Answer: Of this I learned in the spring of 1943, when in my presence, during the testing of the ovens in the crematorium, the corpses of people murdered in the gas chamber of Auschwitz concentration camp were burned.
Question: When you came back from the business trip to Auschwitz concentration camp in the spring of 1943 to the company Topf, to whom did there did you talk about your stay at Auschwitz?
Answer: When I came back from the business trip to Auschwitz concentration camp in the spring of 1943, I talked to the head of the company, Ludwig Topf, and to leading engineer Sander.
Question: What did you report to Sander about your trip to Auschwitz?
Answer: I reported to Sander that I had been present at the testing of the ovens in the crematorium of Auschwitz concentration camp and reached the conclusion that the crematories could not handle so high a number of corpses as had to be burned there, because the ovens of the crematoria did not have a high enough performance. I mentioned to Sander as an example that in my presence two corpses had been introduced into an introduction opening/muffle instead of a single one, and that the ovens of the crematorium would then not stand the strain because very many corpses had to be burned. At that time I also told Sander that the corpses I had seen were of people who had been previously murdered in the gas chambers.
Question: Did you start developing new, improved crematoria for the concentration camps after the conversation with Sander?
Answer: No, we continued building crematoria of the same type. I know, however, that Sander personally concerned himself with the draft of a new, improved type of crematorium, but I can say nothing in concrete about this project.
Question: If you knew that in the crematoria constructed by you innocent people were destroyed, why did you nevertheless keep on working in this field?
Answer: First of all I was bound by a contract with the company Topf as building engineer. Secondly I realized that my work in the field of constructing and building crematorium ovens for the concentration camps was very important for fascist Germany. Third, I feared to give up this work, for I could have been destroyed by the Gestapo; for this reason I continued constructing crematoria and heading the crematorium building section.[...]
Pruefer, 4 Mar., 1948:[...]Question: Was it personally known to you for what purpose the company built crematoria and gas chambers in the concentration camps?
Answer: Until 1943 I was not informed about the actual purpose and destination of the crematoria erected in the concentration camps; this only became known to me when I visited Auschwitz concentration camp. Before this the representatives of the SS construction offices, who conducted the negotiations with the company Topf, told me that the crematoria in the concentration camps were built for burning the corpses of inmates who due to disease had died a natural death. About the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz concentration camp I also only learned when I visited this camp in 1943. Before that I had known nothing about their existence and purpose. I would also like to point out that the gas chambers in the concentration camps were not built by the company Topf. I only know that the company Topf mounted the ventilation installations for the gas chambers in Auschwitz concentration camp.
Question: What exactly came to your knowledge about the true purpose of the crematoria and gas chambers being erected at this camp at the time of your visit in 1943?
Answer: During my visit at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943 it became known to me that in this camp a mass extermination of prisoners was going on, including women, children and elder people, who the Hitlerites sent to Auschwitz in whole transports from the German-occupied countries of Europe. The inmates arriving at Auschwitz concentration camps were sent by the SS-men to the gas chambers, where they were murdered, and thereafter their corpses were burned in the crematoria as well as on special incineration pyres.
Question: Thus, when you took part in building the ovens for the crematorium at Auschwitz concentration camp, you know that these were meant for the destruction of wholly innocent people?
Answer: Yes, I knew this.
Question: What made you actively concern yourself with these works, then?
Answer: After the actual purpose of the crematoria at Auschwitz concentration camp had become known to me, I decided to refrain from taking part in their construction, and hereof informed the head of the company, Ludwig Topf.
In reply Topf told me that the building of the crematoria in the concentration camps was being carried out by the company on behalf of the Reich Office of the SS, and that if I refused to take part in these works I could be arrested as a saboteur and imprisoned in a concentration camp. For fear of losing my job and being exposed to reprisals I therefore abandoned my original intention and continued to fulfill all of the company’s orders for building crematoria in the concentration camps. Other motivations I did not have.
Question: Did the fact that you belonged to the Nazi party since 1933 not influence your decision?
Answer: Of course my membership in the Nazi party, whose ideas I shared, obliged me to loyally support all measures taken by the government organs of Germany - including the SS Reich Office - and to forcefully contribute to the execution of these measures. But in the present case I took the decision to continue with the works of constructing and building the crematoria out of fear of reprisals and for no other reasons. Otherwise I would not have requested Ludwig Topf to release me from these tasks.[...]
Pruefer, 9 Mar., 1948:[...]Question: When and in what manner did it become known to you that at the first crematorium in Auschwitz there was a gas chamber?
Answer: I learned of this by chance in 1942 under the following circumstances:
In the spring of 1942, at the request of the Auschwitz camp’s SS-Construction Office, I went to Auschwitz to verify the project for the planned building of a new crematorium in the Auschwitz camp sector, present my conclusions and also have a look at the site where this crematorium was to be built.
The foreseen construction site I visited in the company of an SS-man.
When we passed the first crematorium, I saw through a half-open door that in one of the rooms of the crematorium building there were human corpses lying on the floor in various positions. There were more than ten. When I approached this room, someone quickly slammed the door shut from the inside. As the purpose of this room in Crematorium Nr. 1 wasn’t known to me, I asked the SS-man accompanying me about it. He replied that in this room a gas chamber had been installed and that inmates were poisoned with gas therein.
To my following question, in which way this gas chamber worked, the SS-man answered elusively that he didn’t know exactly, but he told me that it was known to him that there were gas chambers in the city of Lodz, where the SS-men killed inmates with the exhaust gases of cars; thereafter, however, they had made improvements to speed up the killing process and started to use some kind of gas.
As the SS-man declared, the killing process had as a result of the use of gasses in the gas chambers been shortened from 10 to 15 to two minutes in the gas chambers of Lodz.
The killing process in the gas chambers of the city of Lodz, in the words of the SS-man, went as follows: the inmates were chased into the gas chambers, the doors were hermetically closed and opened bottles with gas were thrown through special openings [tscheres spezialnie otverstvija sabrasyvali tuda otkrytie bolony s gasom].
On hand of this account I concluded that the inmates were also being murdered in the same way by SS-men in the gas chamber installed by the SS-men in Crematorium No. 1.
Question: This means that since the spring of 1942 you were informed about the existence of gas chambers [plural] at the crematoria [plural] of the Auschwitz camp?
Answer: Completely right. As I already said before, I first learned in the spring of 1942 that in Crematorium No. 1 at Auschwitz concentration camp there was a gas chamber [singular] and that there inmates were being violently murdered by the SS-men.
Question: Why did you declare at the previous interrogations that you had first come to know in 1943 about the true purpose of the crematoria and gas chambers located in Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: In my depositions during the previous interrogations I was simply mistaken about the date. In actual fact this became known to me in the spring of 1942, as I said.
Question: Thus the investigating entity takes note that, although you knew since the beginning of 1942 that the crematoria and the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp were meant and used by the SS-men for the mass extermination of wholly innocent people, you continued until 1944 to lead the works for the building and equipment of the gas chambers in the mentioned camp, and also actually asked and solved questions regarding their technical equipment, complementing and increasing their capacity.
Answer: Against the facts exposed above I have nothing to object, as all of them, with the exception of my participation in the equipment of the gas chambers, correspond to reality.
Although I knew since the beginning of 1942 that the crematoria and gas chambers at Auschwitz camp were meant and used by the SS-men for the mass extermination of prisoners, I until 1944 continued controlling and leading the works for the building and equipment of new crematoria in the Birkenau camp sector, and I also actively asked and solved questions about their technical equipment, complementing and increasing their capacity.
In what concerns the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp, it was not I who concerned himself with their equipment, but the leading engineer of the company Topf und Söhne, Karl Schultze.
By him personally and under his direct leadership, four gas chambers at the crematoria no. 2 and no. 3 in the camp sector were installed.
I personally only conducted general negotiations with the camp’s SS-Construction Office of the Auschwitz camp about the possibility of manufacturing equipment for the so-called «special baths» (by this camouflage term the SS-men designated the gas chambers, as I later learned).[...]
Pruefer, 13 Mar., 1948:[...]Question: Did you personally take part in the testing of the crematorium ovens and the commissioning of the crematoria?
Answer: In the testing of the crematorium ovens as well as the commissioning of the crematoria built at Auschwitz under my leadership I did not have to take part. This was taken care of by the company’s fitters, who under my leadership carried out the building and erection works in this crematorium.
During the trips to Auschwitz concentration camp I personally watched the functioning of the crematorium ovens at this time and checked where they were already in operation.
At the time of these trips the corpses of inmates who had been murdered by the SS-men in the gas chambers were burned in my presence.
Once, presumably in the spring of 1943, I went to Auschwitz at the SS Construction Office’s invitation, in order to establish why the suck extraction ventilators at the ovens of the second crematorium did not work; head engineer Schultze also went there in order to carry out the necessary repair of the suck extraction ventilators and put them to function again.
Schultze didn’t succeed in repairing the suck extraction ventilators, and we were forced to disassemble them.
But when we, i.e. myself and Schultze, checked the function of the crematorium ovens without these suck extraction ventilators, about 25 corpses of inmates, who, as Schultze told me, had been poisoned in the gas chamber, were burned in our presence.
Question: Were inmates murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in your presence?
Answer: No, I myself didn’t have to be present at the poisoning of inmates in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
That in these gas chambers inmates were killed with prussic acid vapors was told to me by the Head of the SS Construction Office, von Bischoff [sic], at whose request I had correspondence with some German companies concerning the order of gas testers as equipment for the gas chambers.[...]
Schultze, 4 Mar., 1946:[...]Question: By what camouflage designations were the gas chambers referred to on the drawings and documents of the correspondence between the SS Construction Office of Auschwitz concentration camp and your company?
Answer: On the drawings of the crematoria and in the official correspondence between the SS Construction Office of Auschwitz concentration camp and the company Topf und Söhne the gas chambers had the camouflage designations "corpse chambers [kamery dlja trupow]", "special cellars [spezialnye podvaly]", "baths for special applications" [bani spezialnogo nasnatschenia], etc.
Question: At a session with the SS Construction Office of Auschwitz camp, which took place on 19. 8. 1942, the question of installing two three-muffle ovens at the «baths for special applications» was discussed. Explain what «baths with special applications» were the subject of this session!
Answer: At this session the subject was the installation of two three-muffle ovens at the gas chambers that had been built by the SS-men at Birkenau, completely separate from the crematoria built in said camp sector.
Where exactly these gas chambers were located I do not know, because I was never in the area where they were located and never saw them.
From the accounts of an inmate who worked as chief stoker of the crematoria in Auschwitz I know that these gas chambers were three kilometers away from the Birkenau crematoria and that the corpses of the prisoners murdered with gas therein were incinerated on pyres.
I would like to complement these statement to the effect that at these gas chambers no crematorium ovens were built.[...]
Question: For which purpose and at whose order did you in January 1943 write the report about the state of construction of the crematoria in the concentration camp? A copy of this report is being shown to you.
Answer: The corresponding plan was prepared by me at the request of the head of the SS Construction Office of Auschwitz concentration camp, von Bischoff, and it was meant for a justification report to be sent to the hands to the SS Main Office, which was extraordinarily interested in the speed of the building of the crematoria at Auschwitz and required an acceleration of the works for their equipment and commissioning.
From what was stated by von Bischoff I know that Himmler wished to visit the death camp Auschwitz in April 1943. For this reason everything was done to conclude the construction of the crematoria and commence their operation until this time.[...]
Schultze, 4 Mar., 1946:[...]In this way I, together with Prüfer, also constructed and built the crematoria in Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942/43. I myself only built the part of the crematorium that belonged to the ventilation.
In this camp four crematoria were built during the mentioned period. In two of the crematoria there were five ovens each, and in each of these ovens three corpses were introduced, i.e. there were three openings (muffles) in one oven. Within one hour fifteen corpses could be burned in one crematorium with five ovens.
Question: In what respects did the construction of the crematoria installed in the concentration camps differ from the common crematoria installed by the company in various countries until 1933?
Answer: In the common crematoria there was only one huge opening (muffle), into which a coffin with one corpse could be introduced without difficulty. In the crematoria of the concentration camps the ovens had not one but three openings, and there were five ovens in one crematorium.
Thus in one concentration camp crematorium there were fifteen openings (muffles), instead of one like in a common crematorium.
In a common crematorium the corpse in the coffin was introduced into the opening by means of a movable car on rollers, but in the concentration camp crematoria the corpse was introduced into the muffle on a hand-carried litter.[...]
Schultze, 14 Mar., 1946:[...] Question: When did you personally go to the Auschwitz camp to equip the crematoria and the gas chambers?
Answer: At Auschwitz concentration camp I was twice. Once in connection with a calculation error regarding the ventilation - this was in the spring o 1943 - and the second time about two months later, to commission the ventilation in a newly built crematorium.
Question: What did your notice at the time of your stay in Auschwitz concentration camp, while you were in the immediate surroundings of the crematorium and the gas chambers?
Answer: When I was at Auschwitz concentration camp, I personally saw, twenty steps away from me, how SS-men from the camp chased up to three hundred people before them - men, women and children. Of which nationality they were I could hardly determine, but according to their outside appearance they had no idea where they were being led. They chased them all into a huge wooden barracks without windows, which was electrically lighted inside.
From the outside this barracks was connected with the gas chamber through a closed corridor, where I installed the ventilation.
This I watched at around 16 hours. On the following day I was in the crematorium and saw sixty corpses of men, women and children of different age lying there. They lay on the floor without clothes, to be introduced into the crematorium oven. According to their aspect they had been murdered in the gas chamber.
Question: Tell us about the interior installation of the gas chamber!
Answer: This building was eight meters wide and 30 meters long. Inside it was completely empty. The height of this building inside was 2.6 meters. On the roof there were four square openings of 25 x 25 centimeters each.
The ventilation installation provided for a ten-times air exchange; it served to suck out the gas that had collected and pump in fresh air. The pipes of the ventilation, which I personally constructed for the gas chamber, were immured in the walls of the chamber.
Question: With whom did you talk about the constructed and built crematoria and gas chambers serving for the murder of wholly innocent people?
Answer: I wish to explain this clearly. On the service trip to Auschwitz the constructor of the crematorium ovens, Prüfer, was with me. When he arrived in the morning, he also saw the sixty corpses of men, women and children lying on the floor.
I told him what had happened: how they had taken these people here, chased them into the gas chambers [plural] and killed them, and how they now burned their corpses in the crematorium. Prüfer didn’t answer.
Question: After you personally and Prüfer had witnessed the murder of innocent people, how many crematoria and gas chambers for the concentration camps did you still build?
Answer: After I had watched at Auschwitz concentration camp how they destroyed innocent people in the gas chambers and crematoria I still installed five crematorium ovens there together with Prüfer and equipped one gas chamber with a ventilation device.
Question: What led you to spend seven days at Auschwitz during this service trip?
Answer: I stayed there five days because there was no transport with people meant for destruction, while I had to check the function of the crematorium oven in practice. This checking I could only do when the afore-mentioned up to three hundred people arrived, who were then murdered in the gas chambers [plural].[...]
Schultze, 28 Mar., 1946:[...]Question: When did it become known to you that in the crematoria you had built together with Prüfer, and with the help of the ventilation installations for the gas chambers, innocent people were killed in the concentration camps?
Answer: That in the crematoria people were killed who had been interned in the concentration camps and murdered in the gas chambers I knew from the moment when I personally saw murdered people at Auschwitz concentration camp.
Question: When were you at Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: At Auschwitz concentration camp I was at the beginning of 1943, the exact moment I no longer remember.
Question: How often did you go to this camp?
Answer: To Auschwitz concentration camp I went twice, both times in 1943.
Question: For what purpose did you go there?
Answer: The first time I went to Auschwitz to correct mistakes made in calculating the ventilation for the crematoria. The second time I went there two months later, to put the ventilation in a newly erected crematorium into operation.
When I was staying at the mentioned concentration camp, I personally saw how, not far away from me, SS - men chased ahead of them up to 300 people - men women and children - who didn’t seem to suspect where they were being led. I also saw that all of these people were chased into a wooden barracks that had no windows.
This barracks was connected through a closed corridor to the gas chamber, in which I had installed the ventilation device.
The mentioned group of people were chased into the wooden barracks at about 16 hours; what they did with them I didn’t know, but on the following day, at about ten in the morning, when I was in the crematorium, I saw sixty corpses of men, women and children of different ages lying there on the floor wholly naked; they were all dead and had been brought to the crematorium for incineration. It looked as if all sixty people lying in the crematorium had been murdered in the gas chamber.
Question: What were you doing in the crematorium at that time, when the sixty corpses were being delivered there for incineration?
Answer: When the sixty corpses were delivered to the crematorium for incineration, I was giving instructions to the fitters of the ventilation devices how they were to commission the same, for this was a crematorium the building of which had only just been concluded.
Question: Therefore the function of the crematorium and of one of the ventilation devices was tested with your direct participation?
Answer: Yes, with my direct participation the crematorium and the ventilation devices installed by myself for the crematorium were tested. At that time all sixty corpses lying there were incinerated.
Question: This means that you directly took part in the destruction of innocent people?
Answer: Yes, this is correct; as I was starting up the ventilation system in the crematorium at the very time when they incinerated people there, I thereby participated directly in the destruction of people.
Question: How long were you at Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: The first time I was at Auschwitz concentration camp for one day, the second time for six days.
Question: Why were you at Auschwitz concentration camp for six days the second time?
Answer: Because at the time of my arrival at Auschwitz concentration camp there were no people to be destroyed there, I couldn’t test the function of the ventilation system and the crematoria, and I had to spend six days there until they brought a transport of people of various nationalities and different ages. As I already told you before, I carried out the practical checking of the function of the crematorium after sixty people had been murdered in the gas chamber and thereafter burned with my participation in the crematorium. Thereafter, after I had established that the ventilation system in the crematorium functioned without problems, I left the concentration camp.
Question: You stated before that you had only learned that innocent people were burned on the crematoria built by Prüfer together with yourself when you saw sixty corpses in the crematorium, and now you are stating that in the concentration camp your waited six days for a transport of people meant for destruction. This means that you already knew earlier that in the crematoria innocent people were killed?
Answer: Yes, I see myself force to admit that, already before I saw the aforementioned sixty corpses, I knew that in the crematoria built by myself together with Prüfer they killed innocent people; for this reason I sat at Auschwitz concentration camp and waited until a transport of people meant for destruction arrived, in order to be able to test the function of the ventilation system during the burning of the corpses of the innocent people murdered before in the gas chambers.[...]
Sander, 7 Mar., 1946:[...]Question: Describe the technical equipment of the crematorium ovens, which were sent to the camps at Auschwitz and elsewhere, and name the differences towards the ovens of the common crematoria, which were built by the company Topf in various cities before 1941!
Answer: In the common crematoria there was only one huge opening (muffle), into which the coffin with the corpse could be introduced without problems. In the crematoria for the camps, however, the ovens are bigger and each has three muffles of smaller size than those of the ovens of a common crematorium. In one crematorium of the camp five ovens were installed. The introduction of the corpse here was not done on movable cars mounted on rollers, but the corpses were simply introduced in the muffle with the help of a hand-carried litter.[...]
Sander, 13 Mar. 1946:[...]Question: Tell us about your invention of the crematorium for mass incineration!
Answer: As leading engineer of the company Topf I led the crematorium building, whose chief was Prüfer. The latter told me in 1942, the exact time I no longer remember, during a conversation about the capacity of the crematoria [plural] which had been erected at Auschwitz concentration camp, that these could not manage the number of bodies to be burned. He gave as an example that they introduced two or three corpses into the introduction openings, but the crematorium [singular] could nevertheless not take care of the workload accruing in concentration camps [plural].
Thereupon I, as a specialist in the area of heating, decided on my own initiative to build a crematorium which had a higher capacity for burning corpses.
In November 1942 I was finished with my project of a crematorium for the mass burning of corpses and submitted this project to the state patent office in Berlin.
The crematorium for mass incineration should be developed after the principle of the assembly line, and into the oven corpses should be incessantly introduced for cremation by mechanical means.
The corpses should get into the oven under the load of their own weight, falling by themselves upon the grid on a fireproof surface with an inclination of 40 degrees and burning under the effect of the fire. The corpses themselves were to serve as an additional source of fuel.
This patent could not be officially registered at the state patent office because due to the war it had a confidential character, but my invention was applied in practice, and the number [of the patent-] was communicated to me.
Question: Who developed and authorized the building of the crematoria for the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald?
Answer: The development and building of crematoria was the task of Prüfer, the ventilation installations for the crematoria were Schultze’ job. I checked the projects, and after I had done this they were authorized by the company Topf.
Question: What was the capacity of the crematorium for mass incineration of corpses you intended to achieve?
Answer: My idea in constructing the crematorium for the mass incineration of corpses consisted in the bodies getting into the oven uninterruptedly. The number of corpses that can be burned in one hour is much higher in the crematorium I developed than that which was burned in a [conventional] crematorium oven.
Question: What did Prüfer and Schultze tell you after their business trip to Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: In the summer of 1942 Prüfer and Schultze told me that in the concentration camps [plural] of Auschwitz they destroyed many people in gas chambers and burned their corpses in the crematoria [Plural], the burden on the crematoria being so huge that they put three corpses into an oven opening [at the same time].
Question: Does this mean you knew that in the concentration camps [plural] at Auschwitz they destroyed completely innocent people?
Answer: Yes, since the summer of 1942 I knew that in the concentration camp at Auschwitz wholly innocent people were destroyed there, whereupon their bodies (plural) were burned in the crematoria [plural]. Prüfer told me about colossal transports of people being taken from Poland, Greece and other countries to the concentration camps Auschwitz and destroyed there.
Question: How was it that, although you knew that the crematoria in the concentration camps served for the destruction of innocent people, you nevertheless on your own initiative started designing a crematorium for an even greater mass extermination?
Answer: I as German engineer and employee of the company Topf, considered it my duty as a German engineer and employee of the company Topf to use my whole knowledge to contribute to the victory of Hitler Germany, exactly as any given aircraft construction engineer does, even when this means the destruction of people.
Sander, 21 Mar., 1946:[..]Question: Was it known to you, when you took part in the development of and building of crematoria for the concentration camps, that in these crematoria innocent people were burned?
Answer: Yes, it was known to me that in the crematoria built with my participation in the concentration camps innocent people were burned.
Question: When did this become known to you?
Answer: In 1942, the month I no longer remember, I learned in a conversation with engineer Prüfer after his return from a business trip to Auschwitz, that in the developed and built crematoria in the concentration camps innocent people were burned.
Question: For what purpose did Prüfer go to Auschwitz concentration camp?
Answer: This was related to the company Topf, after the building of the crematoria, sending their people for erection of the crematoria to the concentration camps, and engineer Prüfer as head of construction of the crematoria going to the concentration camp [singular] in order to inspect how the erection work was going on; he was also present at the practical testing of the crematoria.
Prüfer informed me after his return to Auschwitz concentration camp that he had been present at the testing of the crematoria there erected and arrived at the conclusion that they had a low performance and could not handle the number of corpses that had to be burned there. At that time Prüfer mentioned to me as an example that in his presence two corpses had been introduced into each of the openings of the crematorium, but that the latter were not up to this workload because in the concentration camp there were very many bodies to be burned.
Question: When Prüfer told you that the crematoria would not have managed the burning of the corpses, were you interested and did you ask him where so many corpses came from?
Answer: Yes, I asked Prüfer why there were so many corpses in the concentration camps, and he replied that they murdered people in gas chambers there and took their bodies for incineration to the crematorium [singular].
[...] Question: Tell us more exactly when you talked to engineer Prüfer about it not being possible to burn the corpses accruing in the concentration camps due to the too low capacity of the crematorium ovens erected by you!
Answer: I remember well that this conversation took place between me and engineer Prüfer in the spring of 1942 - I don’t remember the exact month - after engineer Prüfer had returned from a business trip to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he had inspected the ovens in the newly built crematorium.
Question: What did you talk about with engineer Prüfer after he had told you what is mentioned here?
Answer: After engineer Prüfer had informed me that due to the too low capacity of the crematorium ovens which we had erected at Auschwitz they were not in conditions to burn the corpses accruing there, I told him that it was inevitable to build crematorium ovens after the assembly line system for the mass incineration of corpses in the concentration camps.
Question: Did you develop a new system of crematorium ovens?
Answer: Yes, after the respective conversation between me and engineer Prüfer I had the thought of developing crematorium ovens after the assembly line system, and I took to realizing this project for mass incineration of corpses in the concentration camps.
Question: What was the functioning principle of the new type of crematorium developed by you?
Answer: The working principle of the new type for mass incineration of corpses, which I developed, amounted to introducing the corpses for incineration in the oven in a mechanized way, contrary to the old procedure, the corpses being taken there by the load of their own weight, though sliding on a fire-proof surface with an inclination of forty degrees; the corpses would fall on the grid and burn under the effect of the fire. In this the corpses themselves would be used as additional fuel.
Question: When did you go over to mass production of the new cremation system?
Answer: The company Topf did not go over to producing the new crematorium developed by myself, for in November 1942 I submitted my project to the patent office in Berlin, where it was not officially registered, and my invention was put into practice only there, but I don’t know under what [Patent-] number, for this they didn’t tell me.[...]