KL Auschwitz & Ohrdruf: Testimony of Dr. Bernhard Lauber

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23724
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

KL Auschwitz & Ohrdruf: Testimony of Dr. Bernhard Lauber

Post by David Thompson » 02 Nov 2004 02:56

Extracts from the testimony of Prosecution witness Dr. Bernhard Lauber, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 646-650 and 412-416.


MR. McHANEY: What is your full name, Dr. Lauber?

WITNESS LAUBER: Dr. Lauber. My first name is Bernhard.

Q. Your last name is spelled L-a-u-b-e-r ?
* Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11 April 1947, pp. 282-297.


A. Yes.

Q. When and where were you born?

A. In Wojnicz, Poland, 1911, on 3 November.

Q. Are you a Polish citizen?

A. Yes. I am.

Q. Are you Jewish?

A. Yes. I am.

Q. What is your profession?

A. I am a physician.

Q. Where did you study medicine?

A. In Bologna, Italy.

Q. Did you practice medicine before the war?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. At Tarnow, Poland.

Q. When did you begin to practice there and how long did it continue?

A. In 1937, the second half, until the outbreak of the war when I went to a place near Przemysl where I continued my practice.

Q. How long were you there?

A. In Przemysl until 1943, until July 1943.

Q. Did you have to live in the ghetto there?

A. No. I did not live in the ghetto there because before July of 1943 all Jews were resettled, some of them were killed, and I was the only physician which was allowed to remain alive, I was passed over, I, my wife, and my little child who was 11 months old, because I was working in the hospital. My wife and my baby of 11 months were shot by the Gestapo. I was then in the hospital working there. The hospital was half a kilometer from my home. When I returned home at lunchtime, I found strange people who told me that my wife and my child had been shot and I was looked for to be shot myself. I then went into hiding into a farm where I remained for 2 weeks. Then I ran away from there. I walked to Przemysl, to the ghetto.

Q. Have you ever seen your wife and child again?

A. No. Never.

Q. And what did you do after you got to the ghetto?

A. I lived there under an assumed name. I got identity papers, and I was a street cleaner.

Q. Did there come a time when you were sent to a concentration camp.

A. That was in August 1943.

Q. And were you sent to Auschwitz?

A. No. I was sent to Schebnik, that is in Polish Galicia. I was


there for about 9 weeks, and from there one day in the evening, with only underwear, without any clothes, without shoes, I was loaded on a wagon and sent to Auschwitz. That was roughly on 6 November.

Q. 6 November 1943 ?

A. 1943, yes.

Q. How many other persons were sent on this transport to Auschwitz with you?

A. Approximately 2,500.

Q. You were sent there in freight cars?

A. In cattle wagons, in movable cattle wagons, not wagons for persons.

Q. How long did the transport take to get to Auschwitz?

A. Roughly 3 or 4 days.

Q. Were you provided with food and water while you were on the transport?

A. Nothing at all.

Q. How many people were there in each car?

A. About 70 to 80 people.

Q. Were you able to lie down and sleep?

A. No. There was no room.

Q. And you say that you were not provided with clothes?

A. Only underwear, but no shoes.

Q. Now, what happened after you arrived in Auschwitz?

A. The wagons were opened and we were beaten while we got out of the wagons, and we were assembled in rows and a camp doctor asked us what our professions were. Some were sent to the right side and the others to the left side. The ones on the right-hand side were loaded on trucks. I said, "I am a physician. I am 32 years old," so I went to the left-hand side. The ones on the right-hand side sat down, and then they were loaded on trucks and driven away. I heard later, when I was in the camp, I heard that they had been sent to the gas chambers. We were driven to the camp barefoot. Snow was on the ground. It was November. We were given very dangerous beatings. One SS man yelled, "Beat fast," and the other SS man beat us, "and drive slowly." So under beatings we arrived at Auschwitz. I remember very well when I entered the gate an SS man showed me the chimney and said, "Come along, there is only one road to freedom here, that is the chimney."

Q. How long did you stay in Auschwitz?

A. About 1 year.

Q. What work did you do while you were in Auschwitz?

A. I was what was called a nurse in one block.

Q. What was the number of the block?


A. It was — I worked in block 6 the quarantine station, and then in the hospital of the camp F, which was block 15.

Q. Do you know the name of the doctor who made the selections of prisoners in your transport?

A. Dr. Mengele and Dr. Tilo.

Q. Now, Dr. Lauber, are you able to tell this Tribunal, from your observations in Auschwitz, that large numbers of people were being exterminated there?

A. No. I cannot give you the figure but it must have amounted to millions. I cannot say the exact figures. I cannot estimate it.

Q. Do you remember the arrival of Hungarian Jews in 1944 ?

A. I remember that very well.

Q. When did these transports arrive with Hungarian Jews?

A. These transports arrived between May and July, three or four trains a day, roughly three or four trains per day. They arrived either by day or by night. The tracks were in the camp, and from my place of work I could observe when these transports arrived. The transports were lined up in rows, and Dr. Mengele and Dr. Tilo and other SS men stood there, and Dr. Tilo or Mengele pointed with his thumb, his right thumb, right-hand side, left-hand side, and I remember even that on that occasion he whistled a sort of tune. The people who went to the right-hand side remained near the train, and the ones on the left-hand side went to camp. The trucks came along, and the people who stood near the train were loaded on the trucks and driven away towards the crematorium. At that time we saw how all the chimneys of the crematorium were smoking, and the holes which had been dug near the crematorium showed big fires.

Q. Did these transports of people in Auschwitz, did these persons bring with them trunks of clothing and other personal effects?

A. Yes. They brought everything along. Some of them were very well dressed.

Q. Do you know whether or not these Jews who were sent into Auschwitz were told that they were being resettled?

A. The Jews said that they were being sent to Poland to do some work.

Q. But I mean, when the Jews for example, were evacuated from the ghetto, were they told that they were going to be resettled by the Germans and that they should bring along all of their movable effects, all of their movable property?

A. Yes. They were told to bring everything along. When they left the train in Auschwitz, everything was taken away from them.

Q. You say everything was taken from them in Auschwitz?

A. Immediately, they had to leave everything in the train. That


was a special order. So a group of inmates formed and occupied themselves with taking the things away from the people on arrival.

Q. And were they forced to surrender the clothes which they were wearing?

A. No. Not at the train. The clothes were taken away from them when they took a bath.

Q. Now, do you know what happened to this property which was taken from the inmates when they arrived, clothing?

A. Yes. All clothing was assembled in the so-called material camp and from there it was sorted out and loaded on trains, and called "presents for Pohl." It was sent to Germany.

Q. Do you know whether the hair was shaved from the heads of the women before they were executed?

A. Yes.



* * * * * * * * * *

MR. McHANEY : Now, Doctor, you left Auschwitz in November 1944 ?

A. Yes.

Q. And where did you go?

A. We went to Oranienburg where we stayed for two weeks in the quarantine station. From there we went to Sachenhausen for two days, and from there some of us were sent to Ohrdruf. And the others probably to Stutthof.

Q. And the camp, Ohrdruf S-3, was an outside camp of Buchenwald?

A. Yes.

Q. Approximately how far from Buchenwald was it?

A. About 60 kilometers.

Q. And will you describe the camp in Ohrdruf ?

A. Yes, certainly. It was about two kilometers distance from the town, on a hill, and formerly these were SS barracks — at least we were told so. When we arrived there were no beds and no equipment of any sort. We had to, from a so-called prisoner of war camp at a distance from our camp of about half a kilometer, fetch certain equipment such as tables, benches, beds and so on, and take them to the north camp. That was done, of course, in the first case after our arrival, and we had to run to and from, and were beaten by the SS men.

Q. You mentioned the north camp. Was there also a south camp?
* Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11 April 1947, pp. 282-297. See also background information of witness in testimony reproduced on pp. 646 to 650.


A. Yes. There was a south camp. Near Ohrdruf another two camps were founded — Krawinkel [sic] and Zeltlager.

Q. Now, was the north camp a work camp?

A. Up to the first half of January it was a work camp. Roughly in the middle of January it was used as a hospital place.

Q. In other words, before the middle of January 1945, the north camp of Ohrdruf S-3 was a work camp.

A. Yes.

Q. And then afterwards it was a convalescent camp.

A. It was a camp for ill people.

Q. What sort of work were they doing at Ohrdruf?

A. I was a male nurse.

Q. I mean, what type of general construction work was being done in the camp of Ohrdruf ?

A. Twelve kilometers from Ohrdruf they built in the mountains, tunnels, underground.

Q. Were the tunnels large?

A. It was a very large operation and very heavy work. We started it.

Q. And how many inmates did they have working there?

A. From the north camp and the south camp, people from all four camps worked there, but I could not give the number. As far as our camp was concerned, which was at first a work camp, there worked up to 4,000 people.

Q. Do you know how many there were in the south camp, roughly?

A. No. I do not.

Q. Now, what were the living conditions in the north camp?

A. The conditions were terrible.

Q. Did they have good hospital facilities?

A. We had no hospital equipment at all. Most of the ill people, the so-called group 4 — those who were not capable of working — they were accommodated in the stables. There were no beds in those stables. It was a concrete floor. The sick people lay on the bare floor, without straw, without covers and blankets; no drugs; and these ill people were given 50 percent of the food which we were given. They were so ill that they couldn't eat very well. They lay there with open wounds, they were not dressed, and they died there by the thousands. On one occasion, for 2 or 3 weeks these people accommodated in the stables were examined for transports and some were transported away. And Dr. Greumius said they were going to Bergen-Belsen to recover.

Q. Did you ever hear what happened to them in Bergen-Belsen ?


A. I do not even know whether they went to Bergen-Belsen, or what happened to them.

Q. Who was the SS doctor in the north camp?

A. Dr. Greumius.

Q. Now, can you tell us anything about the nationalities of the inmates working in Ohrdruf?

A. There were many nationalities there: Hungarian Jews, Polish Jews, Jugoslavs, Greeks, Russians, and Italians.

Q. Were there some French there?

A. Not very many, but there were some Frenchmen.

Q. Were there any prisoners of war?

A. Yes. Russian prisoners of war.

Q. Did you ever hear that actually what they were constructing at Ohrdruf was a headquarters for the Fuehrer?

A. No. We were told that underground factories for V- Weapons would be constructed.

Q. Now, Dr. Lauber, can you tell us approximately how many inmates died in the hospital in the north camp during the period that you were there?

A. In the north camp, between the middle of January up to the beginning of April, there died — according to my estimation — three to four thousand people. Then another two thousand were sent to what was described as "recreation" and those two thousand add up to about five thousand. Until the middle of January, whenever the detachments left the parade ground, there remained on the parade ground roughly, about 10 to 12 dead each day; and in the evening when the detachments came back about twenty [dead] each day were loaded on those trucks and I, as the nurse of the block — in the beginning the prisoners did not have any identification numbers — had to know how many had died, and had to go to the mortuary and identify the people in their blocks because the SS people had to know that for their roll call.

Q. Can you state what clothing was given to the inmates in Ohrdruf?

A. The inmates in Ohrdruf were given wooden shoes, trousers, and a jacket, nothing else at all. That was in the middle of winter. Although the prisoners worked throughout the night, they worked in those clothes. I myself, worked in a detachment, a Kommando, for three weeks building a tunnel.

Q. What food was given to the inmates?

A. In the morning we were given black coffee and bread. Sometimes it was given only in the morning, sometimes in the evening, about 300 or 250 grams of bread; twice a week we were given additional bread. Twenty grams of margarine or a bit of sausage


or when there was no sausage, we were given jam, a tiny portion of jam. When we returned from our work in the evening we were given some soup; sometimes it was beet soup, sometimes it was potato soup. One could almost call it water.

Q. Is the name of Dr. Pook familiar to you, Witness?

A. Dr. Pook? I heard the name Dr. Pook mentioned once. The chief doctor of our outside hospital told us Dr. Greumius was with the Obersturmbannfuehrer or something. I don't know the ranks. In any case it was the dentist in the camp and he said, "Teeth must not be treated — only extracted; and no anaesthesia must be used."

Q. Now, can you tell us what happened to Ohrdruf at the end of the war?

A. Yes. On or about 2 April we heard the American Army guns; we were told that the American Army had reached the town, and we were certain that the Germans would leave us behind. I, for instance, worked in a hut where there were about 400 people ill with typhus. Many of them were unconscious; they had very high temperatures. In other huts there were also grievously ill people, and we were quite certain that we would be left behind because there is no sense transporting dangerously ill people to various places; that would be a great danger, and we were quite certain that we would be left behind. Suddenly — roughly at 3 o'clock in the afternoon — there came somebody with the camp Dr. Greumius, together with SS men and the camp leader called Stuebitz, and they yelled that all prisoners, whether they were ill or not, should assemble on the parade ground. People walked out and the ill were loaded on trucks. Those who were a little better were driven off on foot, and they marched away in little groups guarded by SS men. We nurses and doctors remained behind to the last. Many people were hiding in various corners in the huts because they believed if they could last until the next day, the American Army would liberate them. These the Camp Leader Stuebitz and the Camp Dr. Greumius found and shot them down. I, myself, saw how Camp Leader Stuebitz used an automatic machine-pistol and Dr. Greumius also had a gun in his hand; and they walked around the camp with other SS men, and I heard shots fired in the huts and between the huts. I saw groups of prisoners who were shot down. Then some of the ill — a small part of the ill persons, perhaps 30, 40, or 50 persons, where it was not possible to load them on trucks--were also shot. We, the doctors and the nurses, left the camp last, and after about 20 minutes we saw an enormous fire, and we knew that the camp was already on fire.

Q. Did you receive a tattoo when you entered Auschwitz?


A. Yes. My number is 161374.

Q. Will you show the Tribunal your tattoo, please?

A. Certainly. (Witness rises, unbuttons shirt and bares force arm to Court.)

Q. Doctor, what are you doing now?

A. At the present time I am a so-called camp doctor in the UNRRA camp near Aschau employed as a children's doctor.

Q. And how many people are under your care there?

A. Four to five hundred.

Q. And what is your exact address, Doctor?

A. Dr. Lauber, Bernhard

Q. No. I mean the place where you live.

A. Aschau, near Muehldorf ; UNRRA Camp 1063.

MR. McHANEY: I have no further questions.

PRESIDING JUDGE TOMS: Does anyone wish to cross-examine the witness?


DR. RATZ (counsel for the defendant Hermann Pook) : Witness, you said that you heard of Dr. Pook once, and you also said that there had been an order that teeth must not be treated but only extracted and no anaesthesia should be used. It was not quite clear who told you this, and whether it was an order. You referred to the chief doctor of the SS hospital.

A. Certainly. The chief doctor was a Pole; his Christian name was Josef, and he told me — and he said that the doctors — he said that Dr. Pook had given an order to other doctors that teeth must not be treated, only extracted and no anaesthesia must be used. After all, the teeth could not be treated because there was no dental station there.

Q. There was no dental station there?

A. No. There was not.

Q. Was there no dental station because the camp was so new a camp, or did you observe that there was no equipment there anyway, so that patients could be treated?

A. I was there from beginning to end, and throughout that period there was no dental equipment there at all.

Q. Did you know whether a camp dentist was used in Nordhausen, was active in Buchenwald?

A. No. I do not know.


Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”