KL Auschwitz: Testimony of Jerzy Bielski

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KL Auschwitz: Testimony of Jerzy Bielski

Post by David Thompson » 02 Nov 2004 03:26

Extracts from the testimony of Prosecution witness Jerzy Bielski, 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. 407-411 and 650-664.
EXTRACTS FROM TESTIMONY OF PROSECUTION WITNESS JERZY BIELSKI*

DIRECT EXAMINATION

MR. ROBBINS: Will you state your name, please?

A. My name is Jerzy Bielski.

Q. Will you spell that please?

A. J-E-R-Z-Y. That is my first name. B-I-E-L-S-K-I.

Q. And are you a Polish national?

A. Yes.

Q. And I understand you were born in Warsaw, Poland in April 1921; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You are single, a medical student, and you are now residing at Weiden; is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. Did you attend a high school in Warsaw?

A. Yes.

Q. And have you attended a medical school in Warsaw?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you an inmate in the Auschwitz concentration camp?

A. Yes.

Q. During what period of time?

A. I was in Auschwitz from August 1942 until November 1944.

Q. And from there where were you transferred?

A. I was sent to the concentration camps Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen.

Q. And subsequent to the end of the war you have been in DP camps?

A. Yes.

Q. At what places, please?

A. I was at Bremen, then Coburg, and from Coburg I finally came to Weiden.

Q. And have you applied to UNRRA to be returned to your native land, Poland?

A. Yes. I have.

Q. And you are waiting now to be transferred?

A. Yes. That is correct.
__________
* Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11, 14 April 1947, pp. 302-319 ; 341-399.

407

Q. Do you have a serial number on your arm that you received at Auschwitz, please?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you show that number to the Tribunal?

(The witness complied.)

Q. It is number 66423 ?

A. That is correct:

Q. In Auschwitz, what kind of work were you assigned to do?

A. At first, I was in the construction detachment. I was assistant laborer with the electrical detachment.

Q. And during the year 1944 were you assigned to work in a sand pit at Auschwitz?

A. Yes. In the spring of 1944 I was working in a sand pit at Auschwitz — as a disciplinary measure.

Q. And what was the name of that sand pit?

A. It was called after Hauptscharfuehrer Pallisch. The sand pit was located next to the villa.

Q. And was there a building at the sand pit at which there was a name plate of an industrial concern?

A. Yes. It was a structure built of wood, and on the sign was written "Deutsche Erd- and Steinwerke."

Q. And what kind of work were you doing at the sand pit?

A. I helped to load the carts with sand, and then we had to push these carts on the tracks.

Q. Was there some particular reason why you were assigned to the sand pit?

A. Yes. This was done to me as a disciplinary measure.

Q. And what had you done to be disciplined?

A. In the concentration camp Auschwitz in block 15, during this time in a search, our block officials of the political department found Polish books and several Polish journals which I had managed to obtain. That is why I was disciplined by the political department by being given punitive work in the sand pit.

Q. About how many inmates were working in this sand pit?

A. I worked there for two weeks. Approximately 150 to 155 inmates worked in the sand pit at that time.

Q. Will you describe to the Tribunal the treatment that these workers received while working at the sand pit?

A. One-third of the prisoners who worked there were inmates who were being punished by being forced to carry out this work, and then after they had completed the time of punitive labor, they were sent back to their original detachments. Then, of course, there were also the permanent workers in this detachment.

Q. I think you failed to understand my question.

A. The conditions that prevailed in the sand pit were terrible.

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It was one of the worst detachments in the camp. All the people there did not get sufficient food. They were beaten and shot during their work. On the average, 10 prisoners were killed every day, and 10 to 20 who had lost consciousness and who were otherwise sick were returned to the camp daily. The work had to be achieved at such a speed that nobody was able to carry it out. Whenever we were unable to run as fast as we were told to, or whenever we showed that we did not have sufficient strength to push the carts, then we were always beaten — beaten to death — by the foremen and the Kapos, and the people were shot by the SS guards.

Q. Were you ever assigned to the gravel pit operated by the German Earth and Stone Works?

A. Yes. I personally did not work in the gravel pit, but the conditions which prevailed there I know very exactly from the descriptions of my friends, because I had some very good friends in this labor detachment. Furthermore, the people from this detachment were billeted with me.

Q. And did these people who were billeted with you, your friends who were assigned to the gravel pits, describe to you the conditions that prevailed there?

A. Yes. They described them to me exactly. Furthermore, I have personal experience. Every day I saw the entire detachment when they returned from work, and the entire detachment consisted of exhausted people. There were approximately three hundred inmates included in this detachment at that time, and every day 10 to 20 dead persons were carried back, and the same number of persons and patients had fainted. I always saw that when they entered the camp gate, and whenever this detachment returned from work. My detachment always returned to camp earlier than they did, approximately one-half hour earlier. That is why we were always in a position to observe the other detachments return. Among them were also the gravel pit detachments.

Q. Did there come a time when you were assigned to work at one of the plants operated by the DAW [Deutsche Ausruestungswerkstaette] ?

A. Yes. This plant at Auschwitz belonged to the DAW, and at the time when I worked there as an electrician, there were about two thousand inmates who worked there. To this detachment belonged a large part of these Industriegelaende workshops and construction workshops but in 1944 all mechanic and forger detachments had been separated from these works and they had been attached to the DAW and employed there.

Q. Will you tell us, Witness, how you know that this shop was operated by the DAW?

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A. Well, all prisoners in camp generally knew about that. Well, at this plant there was a sign, at one time * * * containing the letters DAW, and all Kapos had arm bands on the left arms which were different from the ones worn by other detachments. The Kapos from other detachments had yellow arm bands with black inscription and those of the DAW had black-blue arm bands with the white inscription "DAW" and the appropriate department where they were working.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal something about the conditions that prevailed at this plant operated by the DAW, the working conditions ?

A. Very well. This detachment always worked from early in the morning until 7 o'clock at night, and a half hour was taken of at noon. All the prisoners there were overworked. They had to carry out too much work. Furthermore, the civilian foremen and also the SS foremen had very bad reputations throughout the camp because of their sadism. Especially infamous was the director of this plant, Obersturmfuehrer Sauer. In my work I was present in many cases where beatings occurred and where inmates were beaten to death by Kapos, other SS men, and also by civilian foremen. I knew this man by the name of Obersturmfuehrer Sauer.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Witness, are you missing some teeth from your mouth ?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you tell the Court how you lost them?

A. In the course of my interrogations by the Gestapo in Kielce I was beaten for 3 months and I was tortured. At the time the Gestapo broke my nose; they knocked out 15 teeth, actually 12 — 3 I lost at Auschwitz. Furthermore, three ribs were broken when I was beaten. I was given five hundred strokes with a whip, and then I spent 2 months at the prison at Radom where I was beaten every day.

Q. Do you have any other scars on your body from this treatment ?

A. Yes. I also have a wound at my heel. That comes from the year 1942 when I had typhus. For 2 weeks I had to walk. Then in the evening I did not want to go to the hospital because there one was easily disposed of through injections, and we preferred to die on the free fields rather than in the gas chamber. At that time I stood in the morning formation. One of the SS men saw that I was standing there. I had a very high fever at the time. I was not able to stand straight. He gave me several kicks, and as a result of this I had a very dangerous wound. Then I had an inflammation of my veins and blood poison; and that is

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why my left leg is 16 centimeters bigger than my right, and cannot stand on my leg more than 1 or 2 hours. Then, I have either to lie down or to sit down.

Q. Herr Bielski, do you have medical proof with you to show that you have lost from 60 to 70 percent of the use of that leg from mistreatment.

A. Yes.

MR. ROBBINS: Prosecution has no further questions.

* * * * * * * * * *

EXAMINATION

JUDGE PHILLIPS: What was it the Gestapo asked you about, or questioned you about when they were beating you?

WITNESS BIELSKI: They wanted me to sign the indictment, and they wanted me to admit everything with which I had been charged. Then my mother and my sister, who was 11 years old, were also tortured in a very cruel manner. They spent four months in prison and afterward they were shot because the Gestapo wanted to force me to admit everything with which I was charged.

Q. What were you charged with?

A. I was charged with having sympathies and having collaborated with an underground organization, and of working together with the clandestine press, and of assisting the partisans in the Lysa Gora [Lyso Gory] mountains; because I had a hostile attitude toward the Third Reich.

Q. Are you a Jew?

A. I am half-Jewish.

Q. Where were you arrested

A. I was arrested at Konsky [Konskie], two hundred kilometers from Warsaw. That is in the district of Kielce.

Q. What were you doing there?

A. At the time I was working in the clandestine press at Warsaw. My mother was at my father's estate, that was at Hakolski. My mother was arrested three days before my arrest, together with my sister, because they had been denounced by the man who was administering my estate.

Q. What weapons did the Gestapo use in the camp to knock out your teeth?

A. This was done with the butts of pistols, and then I was put in a place — I was put into a torturing instrument [chamber] ; I was put with my head down. I was hanged on a piece of wood and both arms were bound together, and then three Gestapo men started beating me from all sides with sticks, with pistol butts,

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and with a kind of whip they used to use. There was a thick wire inside and on the outside there was leather.

Q. I noticed you looking at the defendants; you shut one eye. Are either one of your eyes injured from any treatment you had there?

A. My eyes were damaged when I was maltreated; yes.

Q. To what extent were your eyes injured?

A. The sight nerves were paralyzed.

Q. The right eye?

A. Yes. My right eye.

* * * * * * * * * *

************************************************************************

EXTRACTS FROM TESTIMONY OF PROSECUTION WITNESS JERZY BIELSKI

DIRECT EXAMINATION


* * * * * * * * * *

MR. ROBBINS: Was there a time in June 1943, when some prominent visitors came to Auschwitz?

WITNESS BIELSKI: Yes. That was in June 1943.

Q. And will you describe to the Tribunal the circumstances of that visit and the basis of your knowledge?

A. On this day, aside from the command of the electric and construction detachment, we inmates, a Kapo and one SS foreman, were sent from Auschwitz to Birkenau approximately at 7 :30, and we arrived there and began some construction work. In this case we were to establish an electric line to camp F, to Birkenau, and this was part of the camp at Birkenau. We worked there and approximately around 10 o'clock in the morning in very good visibility, and the weather was very good, several cars drove out with SS officers, and they stopped at the hill. We already had heard from the day before that inspection of the camp was to take place by Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, the Director of the Central Administration Agency of the Main Office. However, we were very surprised that he had arrived already so early in the day. They were located approximately from 60 to 80 meters away from the gas chambers. Behind the gas chambers there was crematorium number three. Thus we were able to observe the whole
__________
* Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11, 14 April 1947, pp. 302-319 and 341-399.

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occurrence very well. The whole group of SS officers among them Pohl, whom we had already seen in camp at an earlier period of time after I had been in camp for 3 months, he left his car, and then they walked over to the crematorium. They spent several minutes in the crematorium, and then they again went outside and they went to the gas chamber, and after a short time all of them went downstairs and entered the gas chamber. They remained there for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. After this time, they again came outside and then all of them were engaged in a discussion, and then first one car and then three trucks loaded with sick and exhausted prisoners came from the direction of Auschwitz. The cars came from the main road to the crematorium, and then approximately 30 people from the special assignment came and threw the patients and the sick people off the trucks. Then the trucks left and went back to Auschwitz and the prisoners from the special task groups all took the sick people who had been brought there into the gas chambers, carried them on stretchers, and they also carried them without stretchers. Ten minutes later an additional number of trucks arrived loaded with prisoners. There were approximately four or five, and in each truck there were approximately 25 to 50 people. Several of them were lying in the trucks and others were still able to stand. All of them were only dressed in a very short shirt. It was very short. They did not have anything else. And then the same story repeated itself. People were thrown off the trucks and they were carried into the gas chambers. Then two SS men appeared. They were lower, they were noncommissioned officers of the SS. Then came an ambulance with a red cross on it and which brought several tins. Already at that time, we knew that the tins were filled with cyklon gas.

This was not a secret, because approximately 100 meters from our camp at Auschwitz there was a so-called theater building where these tins of gas were stored. At that time we knew that these tins were filled with cyklon. The two SS men then walked over with these tins to a window of the gas chamber. The windows were above ground; the gas chamber was below the ground. The window worked from above. Therefore the windows could be opened and one could look at the prisoners inside, and it was also easy to throw in the tins of gas. The SS men stood by the windows, but they did not, as yet, throw the tins of gas inside, and then Pohl would come, escorted by five SS officers, and all the guests who had come from Berlin walked over to the window, and then he looked through the window for about 15 minutes. He looked below and watched the inmates who were inside in the gas chamber. Then Pohl went back with his escort, from the gas chamber.

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Q. Excuse me. Where was Pohl and his party standing when the SS man took the tins of gas and dropped them in the gas chamber?

A. They stood over the gas chamber, approximately one meter away from the window. Then I observed that after the tins were thrown in, the window was closed. And the whole thing lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

Q. Then where did Pohl and his party go?

A. Then again he went in the direction of the street, where the other group of officers were standing. And then another four or five approached the gas chamber. They approached the window there, which I was able to observe, and they did the same thing that Pohl did, that is, they looked through the window and observed. Then after 20 minutes when all of them had observed this thing sufficiently — I believe that you did not understand me correctly, because I have said that the SS people who threw these tins did not yet throw the tins, but stood around a long period of time with these tins in their hands, and all the officers who were with Pohl, and Pohl himself, observed the prisoners in the gas chambers before the tins were thrown in. Then after all of them had looked into the gas chamber, then, upon the order of our section chief, Unterscharfuehrer Jenne and the camp leader of Auschwitz, the deputy of the camp leader Hoffmann approached our group and told our chief, "now you beat it for half an hour; you go in this direction." Then our chief lined us up in five's and we marched off. We went as far as a barn in the village, Babitz. That village was already smashed and several camps had been established there, and we went there and we sat near a barn and we rested for about a half hour. Then we came back and Pohl with all his officers were no longer at the gas chamber, only because they were still standing there. They were still standing where they were, on the road. And then we started to work and 10 minutes afterwards Pohl — and this time he was accompanied by Hoess — he and Hoess were the two first and then the others. Also, they came to the gas chambers, and Pohl and Hoess looked through the windows and then some of the others looked through the window, then they left the crematorium.

Q. Excuse me. This was about how long after the tins of gas had been thrown into the crematorium, that Pohl and his party returned?

A. Half an hour. We assumed that immediately after we left the tins were thrown inside, and we stayed in the other place a half an hour. After 10 minutes Pohl appeared once more. So the whole matter lasted 40 minutes. This was after the tins were thrown.

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Q. Then were the bodies removed from the gas chamber to the crematorium?

A. Yes. As I looked again, they were all there, between the cars and the crematorium, and during that time about a hundred inmates from the special task groups came from the direction of the crematoriums one and two, and they together with the others who were already there opened the gas chamber and dragged the bodies out of there and brought them to the cemetery. They had a sort of small stretcher and they had also small carts with one wheel and two handles.

Q. About how many truckloads of prisoners did you see taker from the gas chambers?

A. Altogether there were approximately nine to ten trucks in the first part, later approximately 13. I cannot state that exactly. Then a few additional ones arrived. I assume that altogether there were about 20 trucks. Then there was a second portion in the afternoon.

Q. Did Pohl and his party watch the same proceedings in the afternoon ?

A. Yes.

Q. About how many people were in Pohl's party?

A. Twenty-two or twenty-three.

Q. Were they all SS men?

A. Most of them. There were two civilians.

Q. Will you tell the Court again how close you were to the crematorium and the gas chambers, where it was that you were working?

A. Approximately from 60 to 80 meters.

Q. And then did Pohl and his party after leaving the gas chamber walk in your direction?

A. He was very close to us on two occasions, and he asked our chief about our work. At that time he was about 2 to 3 meters away from me, the others also. Among them there were officers from Auschwitz, Hofmann, Grabner, Hoess, Wosnitza from the political department, also Emmerich, Boger, and Lachmann.

Q. How do you know the names of all these people you have enumerated?

A. They had a very bad reputation throughout the camp. People like Grabner, or Hoffmann, Hoess, Boger, or Lachmann — everyone was afraid of them.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal again what kind of work you were doing in Auschwitz concentration camp in the middle of 1944 ?

A. I was always in the electrical detachment, first as an assistant

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worker, then as a skilled worker, and sometimes as a clerk of the detachment.

Q. Did you in any of your work come into contact with work on the crematoriums or gas chambers?

A. Yes. I worked everywhere because our detachment had to work everywhere. All installations, all constructions, all electrical equipment was our job, and I worked in the crematorium or gas chambers in Auschwitz perhaps 20 or more times.

Q. Did you have anything to do with requisitioning material for those places?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. What was your job in that connection?

A. As clerk I had to keep a list of the requirements of the material that was needed for the work which the detachment carried out, and I also had to specify the quantity and the kind of materials. Then they were assigned by the chief of the detachment, and the requirements were approved by the head of the electrical department in the construction detachment concerned. Then they came back to me, and I took the people and the trucks, and I went to what is called the construction place where I actually picked up the material from the magazines. Therefore, I know how this whole machinery for obtaining material looked.

Q. Do you know to whom the requisitions were sent in the WVHA and where the material came from?

A. The material, the whole of the material which was collected in the construction building came through the assistance of the department [office] C VI of the WVHA, and that was mentioned very often on the memoranda. They were always printed WVHA, department C VI, and all the trucks which were in the courtyard of the construction place came from that department too.

Q. Was any man's name mentioned on the requisition slips?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was that?

A. The names of Bischoff and Eirenschmalz.

Q. What kind of material, will you tell the Court, did you obtain from Eirenschmalz and from C VI ?

A. The whole of our material, our electric equipment and other material, timber, all that sort of thing, all that we needed to carry out our task, we received from C VI through the assistance of the construction building.

Q. Did you see Bischoff in the camp?

A. Yes. Indeed, I have.

Q. Did you see Eirenschmalz in the camp?

A. Eirenschmalz I saw in the construction yard.

Q. That was in Auschwitz, was it?

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A. Yes. It was in Auschwitz roughly six or seven hundred yards from our place of work, from our quarters.

Q. How many times did you see Eirenschmalz there?

A. I remember one particular occasion when I saw Eirenschmalz. That was the end of summer of 1944. At that time [our jobs] were to be liquidated, and a commission arrived consisting of about six or seven people — higher officers and SS officers — who came from the department construction, and they inspected the construction yard, and consulted among each other how the construction yards could best be liquidated, and at that time I saw Eirenschmalz together with Bischoff.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Herr Bielski, do you recall a time in the middle of 1944 when Hungarian transports were brought into Auschwitz concentration camp?

A. Yes. I do. There were many transports which reached Auschwitz at that time. For 4 or 5 months Hungarian transports kept arriving, and just as in the case of the earlier transports, for gassing. They brought many pieces of valuable property. That was why in Auschwitz, opposite the SS kitchen and behind the so-called theatre building, there were six or seven wooded barracks in which there was a detachment consisting mostly of Jews, who worked there. Their task was to collect all of the shoes which had belonged to the gassed people. They had to search these shoes, tear off the soles and then take out things like gold, jewels, and money and hand them over to the inspectors for the SS. At that time, every day there were more than ten thousand shoes, for instance, which were handed in, and after the searching most of those shoes were burned in a nearby pit.

Q. Did you see the barracks where the shoes were inspected?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see some of the shoes after —

A. Yes. Indeed, I did.

Q. Do you know upon whose order this searching of the shoes was instigated?

A. Yes.

Q. And will you tell us how you know that?

A. I know that that happened upon orders from Pohl and that the work was carried out on Pohl's orders. Two German Kapos and an SS man of the construction detachment told me that after Pohl's last visit to Auschwitz the SS men actually said that our leaders reached the decision at that time that shoes should not be destroyed altogether, and all the money which might be in the shoes should be taken from the shoes and then handed over.

Q. On Friday you testified that you saw certain inmates who

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were taken into the gas chamber in Auschwitz at the same time that Pohl was there. A. Yes. Q. Will you tell us what physical condition those inmates were in? A. At that time, in that particular case, I saw very well that the inmates were ill, very weak physically, and they all came from the hospital in Auschwitz. They had been taken from the hospital, or otherwise they were emaciated prisoners of the camp who had no strength left at all. They were weak persons who were incapable of doing any more work. Q. Were all of them weak, as far as you could see? A. In this particular case, certainly, and they were almost naked. They had only small pieces of shirts on them. That indicated that they all came from the hospital or so-called ambulances and were sent there in an ambulance, and they had left their clothes behind in the hospital.

* * * * * * * * * *

CROSS-EXAMINATION

DR. SEIDL (counsel for defendant Pohl) : Witness, on Friday you said that you yourself had observed gassings at Auschwitz. Where was the building where you say you observed people being gassed ?

WITNESS BIELSKI: These gassings to which I testified took place in the gas chamber near crematorium three.

Q. Is that inside the camp or outside the concentration camp?

A. That was inside the big guard compound of the camp, Birkenau, and it was near the barracks of Birkenau.

Q. Do you know whether there was a camp in Auschwitz called Monowitz ?

A. Yes. It is known to me.

Q. What did the building look like where you saw people being gassed? Can you give a precise description of it?

A. That was not in Monowitz; that was in Auschwitz.

Q. What did the building look like?

A. It wasn't a building; it was a subterranean cellar and it was about 30 meters long and 15 meters wide. All you could see from above was a little hill or something which was about a half a meter above ground, and in the middle of this there was a window and the entrance was on the left-hand side. The entrance was inclined to the left and there were three or four little steps which led downstairs. Later on the gas chamber was changed, perhaps 3 or 4 months later on. Later on there was no more entrance from the outside, only indirectly from the crematorium; but at first the

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entrance was from the outside — and at that time from the window which was made in the workshop next to our own workshop. I know that later on the building was changed and the gas chamber was changed, instead of the window there was a little opening which was used.

Q. And at what time do you allege to have observed these things?

A. I observed this from 10 o'clock in the morning until we finished work; that is to say, half past 4.

Q. If I remember correctly, you said on Friday that this was in June 1943.

A. Yes. In June 1943.

Q. At what distance were you from the gas oven?

A. It wasn't a gas oven, only a sort of gas cellar. We were not always standing at the same point. We changed our place. Sometimes we were 40 meters away from it and sometimes 80 meters.

Q. You alleged that you saw the defendant Pohl both in the morning and afternoon?

A. Yes.

Q. In the afternoon there was a large number of persons present, as you said on Friday. Who else was there with Pohl? Did you recognize anybody in Pohl's staff?

A. I counted them very well. There were 22 or 23 people. Almost all of them were guests. There were only 16 permanent members of the Auschwitz staff. The others were all guests of Pohl's; they came from the outside. There was Bobermin, and two civilians were there. We were puzzled why there should be civilians, but we didn't find an answer.

Q. Is it known to you that SS Gruppenfuehrer Gluecks was at Auschwitz?

A. Glueck? What was the name, Glueck?

Q. Gluecks.

A. Yes. He came to Auschwitz, but I didn't see him on that occasion and I didn't see him from very close. All inmates knew that sometimes the Lieutenant General of the Waffen SS and Obergruppenfuehrer Glueck, or Gluecks, would come to the camp; but whether he was there on that particular occasion I am not able to say now.

Q. How often had you seen Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl before, before June 1943 ?

A. Before then I saw him perhaps five times, before June 1943.

Q. And you think it is out of the question that in June 1943, you might have confused persons, and that you saw somebody else whom you thought was Pohl?

A. I know very well that it was Pohl at that time, near the gas

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chamber. I saw him in the afternoon when he was very close by and he asked the leader of our detachment what we were doing and our detachment leader reported to him. Pohl looked at us and looked at every single one of us, at what we were doing, and he stood there for about 15 minutes and talked to other officers. He talked about the electric installations, the extension of the electrical network in that particular part of the camp.

DR. SEIDL: I have no further questions.

DR. VON STEIN (counsel for defendant Eirenschmalz) : I believe I understood you correctly to say that you saw Eirenschmalz in late summer 1944, in Auschwitz, is that right?

WITNESS BIELSKI: Yes. That is right, I saw him.

Q. Did you know Eirenschmalz before then?

A. Only from hearsay. I heard about him. I heard about him, yes. I knew his reputation, I knew that he was in the department C VI. I always saw the forms which he signed, and I knew that he was the head.

Q. But when, in the summer of 1944 a person turned up whom you think and assume was Eirenschmalz, how did you know it was Eirenschmalz? Did you talk to him?

A. No I never talked to him, but at that time the Hauptscharfuehrer Stiller who was in charge of the construction yard told me that I should take the whole of my electrical equipment; I should fetch it as quickly as possible because that day an inspection would be taken by Eirenschmalz, by Obersturmbannfuehrer Eirenschmalz who was in charge of all the construction matter. I told him, well, I would do everything in order to take all these things away.

Q. But you haven't answered my question correctly. I want to know precisely, when this commission of which you talk now turned up in the camp, who pointed out Eirenschmalz to you and said, "This is Eirenschmalz ?"

A. That was the head of magazine 14, an inmate, a man called Dobraniewski. He told me because he had spoken a few times personally with Eirenschmalz when Eirenschmalz came there in order to inspect the electrical magazines, and he knew — the inmate knew — very well who Eirenschmalz was, what his office was, and so forth.

Q. But you had no personal interest to see Eirenschmalz on that day?

A. No. I had no interest, I had no reason to talk to him. I merely observed at that time that the commission was there, what they did, and I heard on that occasion that the man who was always with Bischoff was Eirenschmalz, the head of department C VI.

Q. What did Eirenschmalz want in the camp on that day?

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A. The camp was to be liquidated on that day because the Russian troops were very near. I think they had reached Lublin on that day, and the camp had to be evacuated very quickly, and the construction yard, the material, was to be evacuated before the people. At that time we knew that that would happen in the next few days. Also, we knew that before then a commission was to come which had to decide how the evacuation was to be carried out; and actually, two days after Eirenschmalz's visit, the material and the construction were divided up. Some of it was sent to Lissa, Breslau, and Groslow, and the other part of the material was sent somewhere else.

Q. Now, this construction yard of which you talk so often, did that come under another department than C VI?

A. The whole of the construction yard was under the department C VI. All magazines belonged to one department, which was department C VI. I went to all magazines and I obtained material for our workshop from all magazines, and I always saw on all the forms which were necessary — I saw department C VI.

Q. Is the organization known to you at all? That is, take, say, what department belonged to the building Inspectorate. Do you know anything about that sort of thing?

A. The department C VI was in charge of — was divided up into various offices. I don't know * * *. But all I know is that the whole of the construction yard belonged to department C VI. All material was administered by department C VI.

Q. You always speak of a subdepartment. I wish to point out here * * *. Department C VI — but I am asking you whether you know the other building departments. Do you know anything about them — other departments?

A. Yes. The other departments * * *. No, I had nothing to do with other departments.

Q. How can you then say that the building yard was under department C VI? I can point out the contrary is true. I should like to know how do you know? How did you gain the knowledge?

A. On all the forms it said department C VI; and in the office of the building Inspectorate there were several orders, directives, instructions, and so forth, which were on the wall, and they were always signed "Eirenschmalz," or someone else as deputy. But it always said "department C VI, of the WVHA."

Q. You say, Witness, someone else, as deputy. Who was the deputy who signed for Eirenschmalz?

A. Who was his deputy, you mean?

Q. I would like to know his name.

A. I think there were two or three others. Only very rarely did somebody else sign for Eirenschmalz.

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Q. How often did you see Eirenschmalz there? How often?

A. Well, I saw him clearly once, and before then I heard once or twice that he was the head of department C VI. There were other visitors, but I hadn't seen him myself.

Q. How is it possible then that after so long a time after you said you have seen him only once — how is it possible that you identified him?

A. My memory is excellent.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Now, I would like you to tell me what did Eirenschmalz have to do with supplying building material to the camp? After all, material was there.

A: Eirenschmalz was the highest administrative officer as far as material was concerned, and he was in charge of all this building yard — not only of the one in Auschwitz but all those other camps.

Q. Therefore, I cannot see why Eirenschmalz should pay a visit at all. The material was there, after all, and —

A. Somebody had to decide what had to be done with this enormous material. The material which was collected in Auschwitz amounted to millions. It was very valuable. I think it was the biggest collection of material I have ever seen in all my life.

Q. If I understand you correctly, what happened was this building material was there on the spot in sufficient quantities — even in very large quantities?

A. Yes.

Q. The purpose, as you see it, of Eirenschmalz's visit was merely for Eirenschmalz to give some orders on the transfer of material already there?

A. Yes.

Q. That was the purpose of the visit; that was why Eirenschmalz came to Auschwitz

* * * * * * * * * *

DR. SEIDL (counsel for defendant Pohl) : Witness, upon the question of the counsel for the defendant Bobermin, you stated that it was not very difficult to come near the gas chambers. You remember that, don't you?

WITNESS BIELSKI: I myself worked in the gas chamber. Our commando [labor detachment] was granted permission to go there, because we had to carry out work there.

Q. The other statement you made was the one in which you stated that during the whole period of time you were in Auschwitz the camp commander was Rudolf Hoess.

A. No. I never said such a thing. I said that Hoess was one of them, then Liebehenschel and after that Baer, and then Hoess again.

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Q. However, you are of the opinion that the commander, Rudolf Hoess, has a very good knowledge of the situation in Auschwitz?

A. Hoess ? Yes. I think so.

Q. All right. I will show you now a statement--or at least put before you a statement — as it was made by Hoess before the International Military Tribunal. The statement was made on 1 5 April 1946. It is on page 7,800 of the German record. Hoess was asked the following question: "Would you describe in a very few words if it is correct that the concentration camp of Auschwitz was entirely isolated and what measures were taken in order to carry out the tasks to which you were assigned?" To this question the answer Hoess gave was —

"The camp of Auschwitz as such was three kilometers from the city itself. The surroundings had been cleared of all the previous inhabitants there and the whole area could only be entered by SS men with special passes. The actual camp of Birkenau, namely where the exterminations took place, was built later on, and was two more kilometers from the camp of Auschwitz. The installations themselves, that is, the provisional installations used at the beginning were inside the woods and they could not even be seen from there, and could not be seen from far away.

"That special territory had been declared off-limits and could not even be entered by the SS members — or only could be entered by SS members who had a very special pass. That is how, according to human recollection, none was in a position to enter that territory except for those mentioned with the passes."

Just a moment, Witness; I shall ask you now. Do you still stick to your statement that you approached the gas chambers at about a distance of 160 meters?

A. Yes.

Q. And you saw the defendant Pohl?

A. Yes. The statement made by Hoess I shall call a lie because what we knew in that respect was much more than what Hoess wanted to say in his statement.

Q. And you call Hoess' statement a lie?

A. Yes.

Q. Even if I tell you that he was a witness for the prosecution?

A. The city's distance was three kilometers; Birkenau was two kilometers from Auschwitz. That is correct, too. However, that the crematoriums were in the woods is not true because in 1944 camouflage nets were used. In other words, artificial trees. But that did not apply either because the woods were behind the crematorium two; behind crematorium three there was nothing but logs, and when we worked there as electricians — and I saw

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the gas chamber several times — then we could always speak with the people who were going to be gassed; those who had just arrived from Holland, France, and Hungary; and we could see everything. Then, I am not the only one who can actually assert that — but I can get you all the men from my commando to testify to that effect — who will state exactly the same things as I am stating. I, myself, worked in the crematoriums, and I worked in the gas chambers, and I worked everywhere. For us there was no single place where we could not enter. We carried on all the work there, and apart from that what Hoess said, namely, that only SS could approach the camp or the territory around it, is not true either, because there were approximately five thousand civilians there. They worked within the premises of the camp — if not right near, and they worked in the various installations and the works that were carried out there, and that was their particular firm where these people were assigned to. Apart from that, several high ranking officers came from outside of the camp and we all knew about it. We knew that Hoess and others came to see the camp.

In other words, if they just came out of pure curiosity, then they had to see to it that Hoess could get the permission to come and visit the camp. We saw several curious SS men, and Germans who came into the camp.

DR. SEIDL: That is enough.

* * * * * * * * * *

RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION

MR. ROBBINS: Just a few questions, your Honor.

Herr Bielski, you just mentioned camouflage of crematoriums and gas chambers. Would you give us a little more detail on the camouflage phase?

WITNESS BIELSKI: Well, at the time when we worked there, there was no camouflage. Camouflage was used only after the arrival of the Greek transports. That was perhaps towards the end of July or August 1943. That was when the Greek transports arrived from Greece, and at that time the crematoriums worked very often, and it was quite obvious for all the inmates in the camp could see it. All the people were sent to the crematorium — prior to that time the gas chambers, and that was the reason why camouflage was used at the time. That was the artificial trees I mentioned before. The trees of Babitz were cut off and they were set in there, and there were two rows of those trees right around the crematorium and the gas chamber, and apart from that — I believe that that was

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later on — a sort of fence was placed around the trees, just small poles, and on that fence one could see small pieces of rags. Later on, when we could no longer enter one could not see how the people were sent to the gas chambers. All we could hear were the screams and we could see the pile of smoke coming out of the chimney of the crematoriums, and we also used some sort of a camouflage — that was in 1944; that was when the Hungarian Jews arrived — we used a music camouflage. At the time the children were burned on big piles of wood. The crematoriums could not work at the time, and therefore, the people were just burned in open fields with those grills, and also children were burned among them. Children were crying helplessly and that is why camp administration ordered that an orchestra be made by a hundred inmates and should play. They played very loud all the time. They played the Blue Danube or Rosamunde; so that even the people in the city of Auschwitz could not hear the screams. Without the orchestra they would have heard the screams of horror; they would have been horrible screams. The people two kilometers from there could even hear those screams, namely, that came from the transports of children. The children were separated from their parents, and then they were put to section III camp. Maybe the number of children was several thousand.

And then, on one special day they started burning them to death. The gas chambers at the time were out of order, at least one of them was out of order, namely, the one near the crematorium; it was destroyed by mutiny in a special commando in August 1944. The other three gas chambers were full of the adults and therefore the children were not gassed, but just burned alive.

When one of the SS people sort of had pity with the children, he took the child and beat the head against a stone first before putting it on the pile of fire and wood, so that the child lost consciousness. However, the regular way they did it was by just throwing the children onto the pile.

They used to put a sheet of wood, then the whole thing was sprinkled with gasoline, then wood again, and gasoline and wood, and gasoline — and then people were placed on there. Thereafter the whole thing was lit.

Q. And what period of time did that continue, Herr Bielski ?

A. With the children, you mean?

Q. Yes.

A. That was during those 3 months when most of the Hungarian transports came in; that was June 1944, July, and August; approximately around that period of time. However, what I men-

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tioned about the orchestra was around the end of August. Several thousand children were burned to death alive.

[Witness Bielski also testified that he had seen defendants Bobermin and Sommer at the Auschwitz concentration camp.]

* * * * * * * * * *

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waffen
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Post by waffen » 02 Nov 2004 09:39

:idea: i was shocked to read the testimony of children burned alive and have never ever heard that story before from auswich. very sad.

siwarry
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Re: KL Auschwitz: Testimony of Jerzy Bielski

Post by siwarry » 22 Oct 2015 20:12

I am married to Jerzy (George) Bielski's Grandaughter and we recently visited Auschwitz and Berkenhau. He unfortunately passed away 5 years ago.
We were walking up the tracks at Berkenhau when I came across this article and it enabled us to visit the block he was kept in at Auschwitz and also learn his prisoner number it was also traumatic to learn the horrors he had seen during his incarceration...

It was an emotional visit for both of us and the realisation that had he not survived we would not be together..

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