This is part 1 of 2 parts.
M. DUBOST: I shall request the Tribunal to authorize us to hear the French witness, Dr. Dupont.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Very well.
[The witness, Dupont, took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Is your name Dr. Dupont?
DR. VICTOR DUPONT (Witness): Dupont, Victor.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me? I swear that I will speak without hate or fear, that I will tell the truth, all the truth, nothing but the truth.
[The witness repeated the oath in French.]
THE PRESIDENT: Raise your right hand and say, "I swear."
DUPONT: I swear.
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
M. DUBOST: Your name is Victor Dupont?
DUPONT: Yes, I am called Victor Dupont.
M. DUBOST: You were born on 12 December 1909?
DUPONT: That is correct.
M. DUBOST: At Charmes in the Vosges?
DUPONT: That is correct.
M. DUBOST: You are of French nationality, born of French parents?
DUPONT: That is correct.
M. DUBOST: You have won honorable distinctions. What are they?
DUPONT: I have the Legion of Honor, I am a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. I have 2 Army citations, and I have the Resistance Medal.
M. DUBOST: Were you deported to Buchenwald?
DUPONT: I was deported to Buchenwald on 24 January 1944.
M. DUBOST: You stayed there?
DUPONT: I stayed there 15 months.
M. DUBOST: Until 20 May 1945?
DUPONT: No, until 20 April 1945.
M. DUBOST: Will you make your statement on the regime in the concentration camp
where you were interned and the aim of those who prescribed this regime?
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DUPONT: When I arrived at Buchenwald I soon became aware of the difficult living conditions. The regime imposed upon the prisoners was not based on any principle of justice. The principle which formed the basis of this regime was the principle of the purge. I will explain.
We -- I am speaking of the French-were grouped together at Buchenwald almost all of us, without having been tried by any Tribunal. In 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945, it was quite unusual to pass any formal judgment on the prisoners. Many of us were interrogated and then deported; others were cleared by the interrogation and deported all the same. Others again were not interrogated at all. I shall give you three examples.
On 11 November 1943 elements estimated at several hundred persons were arrested at Grenoble during a demonstration commemorating the Armistice. They were brought to Buchenwald, where the greater part died. The same thing happened in the village of Verchenie (Drome) in October 1943. I saw them at Buchenwald too.
It happened again in April 1944 at St. Claude, and I saw these people brought in in August 1944.
In this way, various elements were assembled at Buchenwald subject to martial law. But there were also all kinds of people, including some who were obviously innocent, who had either been cleared by interrogation or not even interrogated at all. Finally, there were some political prisoners. They had been deported because they were members of parties which were to be suppressed.
That does not mean that the interrogations were not to be taken seriously. The interrogations which I underwent and which I saw others undergo were particularly inhuman. I shall enumerate a few of the methods:
Every imaginable kind of beating, immersion in bathtubs, squeezing of testicles, hanging, crushing of the head in iron bands, and the torturing of entire families in each others' sight. I have, in particular, seen a wife tortured before her husband; and children were tortured before their mothers. For the sake of precision, I will quote one name: Francis Goret of the Rue de Bourgogne in Paris was tortured before his mother. Once in the camp, conditions were the same for everyone.
M. DUBOST: You spoke of racial purging as a social policy. What was the criterion?
DUPONT: At Buchenwald various elements described as "political," "national"-mainly Jews and Gypsies-and "asocial"-especially criminals--were herded together under the same regime. There were criminals of every nation: Germans, Czechs, Frenchmen, et cetera, all living together under the same regime. A purge does
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not necessarily imply extermination, but this purge was achieved by means of the extermination already mentioned. It began for us in certain cases; the decision was taken quite suddenly. I shall give one example. In 1944 a convoy of several hundred Gypsy children arrived at Buchenwald, by what administrative mystery we never knew. They were assembled during the winter of 1944 and were to be sent on to Auschwitz to be gassed. One of the most tragic memories of my deportation is the way in which these children, knowing perfectly well what was in store for them, were driven into the vans, screaming and crying. They went on to Auschwitz the same day.
In other cases the extermination was carried out by progressive stages. It had already begun when the convoy arrived. For instance, in the French convoy which left Compiegne on 24 January 1944 and arrived on 26 January, I saw one van containing 100 persons, of which 12 were dead and 8 insane. During the period of my deportation I saw numerous transports come in. The same thing happened every time; only the numbers varied. In this way the elimination of a certain proportion had already been achieved when the convoy arrived. Then they were put in quarantine and exposed to cold for several hours, while roll call was taken.
The weaker died. Then came extermination through work. Some of them were picked out and sent to Kommandos such as Dora, S III, and Laura. I noticed that after those departures, which took place every month, when the contingent was brought up to strength again, truck-loads of dead were brought back to Buchenwald. I even attended the post-mortems on them, and I can tell you the results. The lesions were those of a very advanced stage of cachexy. Those who had stood up to conditions for one, two, or three months very often exhibited the lesions characteristic of acute tuberculosis, mostly of the granular type. In Buchenwald itself prisoners had to work; and there, as everywhere else, the only hope of survival lay in work. Extermination in Buchenwald was carried out in accordance with a principle of selection laid down by the medical officer in charge, Dr. Shiedlauski. These selections ...
M. DUBOST: Excuse me for interrupting. What is the nationality of this medical officer in charge?
DUPONT: He was a German SS doctor.
M. DUBOST: Are you sure of that?
DUPONT: Yes, I am quite sure.
M. DUBOST: Are you testifying as an eyewitness?
DUPONT: I am testifying as an eyewitness.
M. DUBOST: Go on, please.
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DUPONT: Shiedlauski carried out the selection and picked out the sick and invalids. Prior to January 1945 they were sent to Auschwitz; later on they went to Bergen-Belsen. None of them ever returned.
Another case which I witnessed concerns a Jewish labor squad which was sent to Auschwitz and stayed there several months. When they came back, they were unfit for even the lighter work. A similar fate overtook them. They also were sent to Auschwitz again. I myself personally witnessed these things. I was present at the selection and I witnessed their departure.
Later on, the executions in Buchenwald took place in the camp itself. To my own knowledge they began in September 1944 in room 7, a little room in the Revier. The men were done away with by means of inter-cardiac injections. The output was not great; it did not exceed a few score a day, at the most. Later on more and more convoys came in, and the number of cachexy cases increased. The executions had to be speeded up. At first they were carried out as soon as the transports arrived; but from January 1945 onwards they were taken care of in a special block, Block 61. At that date all those nicknamed "Mussulmans" on account of their appearance were collected in this block. We never saw them without their blankets over their -shoulders. They were unfit for even the lightest work. They all had to go through Block 61. The death toll varied daily from a minimum of 10 to about 200 in Block 61. The execution was performed by injecting phenol into the heart in the most brutal manner. The bodies were then carted to the crematorium mostly during roll calls or at night.
Finally, extermination was also always assured at the end by convoys. The convoys which left Buchenwald while the Allies were advancing were used to assure extermination.
To give an example: At the end of March 1945 elements withdrawn from the S III detachment arrived at Buchenwald. They were in a state of complete exhaustion when they arrived and quite unfit for any kind of exertion. They were the first to be re-expedited, two days after their arrival. It was only about half a mile from their starting-point in the small camp, that is, at the bark of the Buchenwald Camp, to their point of assembly for roll call; and to give you an idea of the state of weakness in which these people were, I need only say that between this starting point and their assembly point, that is, over a distance of half a mile, we saw 60 of them collapse and die. They could not go on further. Most of them died very soon, in a few hours or in the course of the next day. So much for the systematic extermination which I witnessed in Buchenwald, including ...
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M. DUBOST: What about those who were left?
DUPONT: Those who were left when the last convoy went out? That is a complicated story. We were deeply grieved about them. About the 1st of April, though I cannot guarantee the exact date, the commander of the camp, Pister, assembled a large number of prisoners and addressed them as follows:
"The Allied advance has already reached the immediate neighborhood of Buchenwald. I wish to hand over to the Allies the keys of the camp. I do not want any atrocities. I wish the camp as a whole to be handed over."
As a, matter of actual fact, the Allied advance was held up, more than we wanted at least, and evacuation was begun. A delegation of prisoners went to see the commander, reminding him of his word, for he had given his word emphasizing that it was his "word of honor as a soldier." He seemed acutely embarrassed and explained that Sauckel, the Governor of Thuringia, had given orders that no prisoner should remain in Buchenwald, for that constituted a danger to the province.
Furthermore, we knew that all who knew the secrets of the administration of Buchenwald Camp would be put out of the way.
A few days before we were liberated 43 of our comrades belonging to different nationalities were called out to be done away with, and an unusual phenomenon occurred. The camp revolted; the men were hidden and never given up. We also knew that under no circumstances would anyone who had been employed, either in the experimental block or in the infirmary, be allowed to leave the camp. That is all I have to say about the last few days.
M. DUBOST: This officer in command of the camp, whom you have just said gave his word of honor as a soldier, was he a soldier?
DUPONT: His attitude towards the prisoners was ruthless; but he had his orders. Frankly, he was a particular type of soldier; but he was not acting on his own initiative in treating the prisoners in this way.
M. DUBOST: To what branch of the service did he belong?
DUPONT: He belonged to the SS Totenkopf Division.
M. DUBOST: Was he an SS man?
DUPONT: Yes, he was an SS man.
M. DUBOST: He was acting on orders, you say?
DUPONT: He was certainly acting on orders.
M. DUBOST: For what purposes were the prisoners used?
DUPONT: The prisoners were used in such a way that no attention was paid to the fact that they were human beings. They were
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used for experimental purposes. At Buchenwald the experiments were made in Block 46. The men who were to be employed there were always selected by means of a medical examination. On those occasions when I was present it was performed by Dr. Shiedlauski, of whom I have already spoken.
M. DUBOST: Was he a doctor?
DUPONT: Yes, he was a doctor. The internees were used for the hardest labor; in the Laura mines, working in the salt mines as, for instance, in the Mansleben-am-See Kommando, clearing up bomb debris. It must be remembered that the more difficult the labor conditions were, the harsher was the supervision by the guards.
The internees were used in Buchenwald for any kind of labor; in earth works, in quarries, and in factories. To cite a particular case: There were two factories attached to Buchenwald, the Gustloff works and the Muhlbach works. They were munition factories under technical and non-military management. In this particular case there was some sort of rivalry between the SS and the technical management of the factory. The technical management, concerned with its output, took the part of the prisoners to the extent of occasionally obtaining supplementary rations for them. Internee labor had certain advantages. The cost was negligible, and from a security point of view the maximum of secrecy was ensured; as the internees had no contact with the outside world and therefore no leakage was possible.
M. DUBOST: You mean leakage of military information?
DUPONT: I mean leakage of military information.
M. DUBOST: Could outsiders see that the internees were ill-treated and wretched?
DUPONT: That is another question, certainly.
M. DUBOST: Will you answer it later?
DUPONT: I shall answer it later. I have omitted one detail. The internees were also used to a certain extent after death. The ashes resulting from the cremations were thrown into the excrement pit and served to fertilize the fields around Buchenwald. I add this detail because it struck me vividly at the time. Finally, as I said, work, whatever it might be, was the internees' only chance of survival. As soon as they were no longer of any possible use, they were done for.
M. DUBOST: Were not internees used as "blood donors," involuntary of course?
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DUPONT: I forgot that point. Prisoners assigned to light work, whose output was poor, were used as blood donors. Members of the Wehrmacht came several times. I saw them twice at Buchenwald, taking blood from these men. The blood was taken in a ward known as CP-2, that is, Operation Ward 2.
M. DUBOST: This was done on orders from higher quarters?
DUPONT: I do not see how it could have been done otherwise.
M. DUBOST: On their own initiative?
DUPONT: Not on the initiative of anyone in the camp. These elements had nothing to do with the camp administration or the guards. I must make it clear that those whom I saw belonged to the Wehrmacht, whereas we were guarded by SS, all of them from the Totenkopf Division. Towards the end, a special use was made of them.
In the early months of 1945, members of the Gestapo came to Buchenwald and took away all the papers of those who had died, in order to establish their identity and to make out forged papers. One Jew was specially employed to touch up photographs and to adapt the papers which had belonged to the dead for the use of persons whom, of course, we did not know. The Jew disappeared, and I do not know what became of him. We never saw him again.
But this utilization of identification papers was not confined to the dead. Several hundred French internees were summoned to the "Fliegerverwaltung" and there subjected to a very precise interrogation on their person, their connections, their convictions, and their background. They were then told that they would on no account be allowed to receive any correspondence, or even parcels those of them who ever received any. From an administrative point of view all traces of them were effaced and contact with the outside world was rendered even more impossible for them than it had been under ordinary circumstances. We were deeply concerned about the fate of these comrades. We were liberated very soon after that, and I can only say that prisoners were used in this way, that their identification papers were used for manufacturing forged documents.
M. DUBOST: What was the effect of this kind of life?
DUPONT: The effect of this kind of life on the human organism?
M. DUBOST: On the human organism.
DUPONT: As to the human organism, there was only one effect: the degradation of the human being. The living conditions which I- have just described were enough in themselves to produce such degradation. It was done systematically. An unrelenting will seemed
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to be at work to reduce those men to the same level, the lowest possible level of human degradation.
To begin with, the first degrading factor was the way in which they were mixed. It was permissible, to mix nationalities, but not to mix indiscriminately every possible type of prisoner: political, military -- for the members of the French resistance movement were soldiers -- racial elements, and common-law criminals. Criminals of all nationalities were herded together with their compatriots, and every nationality lived side by side, so conditions of living were distressing.
In addition, there was overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and compulsory labor. I shall give a few examples to show that prisoners were mixed quite indiscriminately.
In March 1944, 1 saw the French General Duval die. He had been working on the "terrasse" with me all day. When we came back, he was covered with mud and completely exhausted. He died a few hours later.
The French General Vernaud died on a straw mattress, filthy with excrement, in
room Number 6, where those on the verge of death were taken, surrounded by dying
I saw M. De Tessan die ...
M. DUBOST: Will you explain to the Tribunal who M. De Tessan was?
DUPONT: M. De Tessan was a former French minister, married to an American. He also died on a straw mattress, covered with pus, from a disease known as septicopyohemia.
I also witnessed the death of Count de Lipkowski, who had done brilliant military service in this war. He had been granted the honors of war by the German Army and had, for one thing, been invited to Paris by Rommel, who desired to show the admiration he felt for his military brilliance. He died miserably in the winter of 1944.
One further instance: The Belgian Minister Janson was in the camp living under the conditions which I have already described, and of which you must have already heard very often. He died miserably, a physical and mental wreck. His intellect had gone and he had partially lost his reason.
I cite only extreme cases and especially those of generals, as they were said to be granted special conditions. I saw no sign of that.
The last stage in this process of the degradation of human beings was the setting of internee against internee.
M. DUBOST: Before dealing with this point, will you describe the conditions in which you found your former professor, Leon Kindberg, professor of medicine?
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DUPONT: I studied medicine under Professor Maurice Leon Kindberg at the Beaujon Hospital.
M. DUBOST: In Paris?
DUPONT: Yes, in Paris. A very highly cultured and brilliantly intelligent man. In January 1945 1 learned that he had just arrived from Monowitz. I found him in Block 58, a block which in normal circumstances would hold 300 men, and into which 1,200 had been crowded-Hungarians, Poles, Russians, Czechs, with a large proportion of Jews in an extraordinary state of misery. I did not recognize Leon Kindberg because there was nothing to distinguish him from the usual type to be found in these blocks. There was no longer any sign of intellect in him and it was hard to find anything of the man that I had formerly known. We managed to get him out of that block but his health was unfortunately too much impaired and he died shortly after his liberation.
M. DUBOST: Can you tell the Tribunal, as far as you know, the "crimes" committed by this man?
DUPONT: After the armistice Leon Kindberg settled in Toulouse to practice the treatment of pulmonary consumption. I know from an absolutely reliable source that he had taken no part whatsoever in activities directed against the German occupation authorities in France. They found out that he was a Jew and as such he was arrested and deported. He drifted into Buchenwald by way of Auschwitz and Monowitz.
M. DUBOST: What crime had General Duval committed that he should be imprisoned along with pimps, moral degenerates, and murderers? What had General Vernaud done?
DUPONT: I know nothing about the activities of General Duval and General Vernaud during the occupation. All I can say is that they were certainly not asocial.
M. DUBOST: What about Count de Lipkowski and M. De Tessan?
DUPONT: Nor has the Count de Lipkowski or M. De Tessan committed any of the faults usually attributed to asocial elements or common-law criminals.
M. DUBOST: You may proceed.
DUPONT: The means used to achieve the final degradation of the internees as a whole was the torture of them by their fellow prisoners. Let me give a particularly brutal instance. In Kommando A. S. 6, which was situated at Mansleben-am-See, 70 kilometers from Buchenwald, there were prisoners of every nationality, including a large portion of Frenchmen., I had two friends there: Antoine d'Aimery, a son of General d'Aimery, and Thibaut, who was studying to become a missionary.
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M. DUBOST: Catholic?
DUPONT: Catholic. At Mansleben-am-See hangings took place in public in the hall of a factory connected with the salt mine. The SS were present at these hangings in full dress uniform, wearing their decorations.
The prisoners were forced to be present at these hangings under threats of the most cruel beatings. When they hanged the poor wretches, the prisoners had to give the Hitler salute. Worse still, one prisoner was chosen to pull away the stool on which the victim stood. He could not evade the order, as the consequences to himself would have been too grave.
When the execution had been carried out, the prisoners had to file off in front of the victim between two SS men. They were made to touch the body and, gruesome detail, look the dead man in the eyes. I believe that men who had been forced to go through such rites must inevitably lose the sense of their dignity, as human beings.
In Buchenwald itself all the executive work was entrusted to the internees, that is, the hangings were carried out by a German prisoner assisted by other prisoners. The camp was policed by prisoners. When someone in the camp was- sentenced to death, it was their duty to find him and take him to the place of execution.
Selection for the labor squads, with which we were well acquainted, especially for Dora, Laura, and S III - extermination detachments - was carried out by prisoners, who decided which of us were to go there. In this way the internees were forced down to the worst possible level of degradation, inasmuch as every man was forced to become the executioner of his fellow.
I have already referred to Block 61, where the extermination of the physically unfit and those otherwise unsuited for labor was carried out. These executions were also carried out by prisoners under SS supervision and control. From the point of view of humanity in general, this was perhaps the worst crime of all, for these men who were constrained to torture their fellow-beings have now been restored to life, but profoundly changed. What is to become of them? What are they going to do?
M. DUBOST: Who was responsible for these crimes as far as your personal knowledge goes?
DUPONT: One thing which strikes me as being particularly significant is that the methods which I observed in Buchenwald now appear to have been the same, or almost the same, as those prevailing in all the other camps. The degree of uniformity in the way in which the camps were run is clear evidence of orders from higher quarters. In the case of Buchenwald, in particular, the personnel, no matter how rough it might be, would not have done such things
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on their own initiative. Moreover, the camp chief and the SS doctor, himself, always pleaded superior orders, often in a vague manner. The name most frequently invoked was that of Himmler. Other names also were given. The chief medical officer for all the camps, Lolling, was mentioned on numerous occasions in connection with the extermination block, especially by an SS doctor in the camp, named Bender. In regard to the selection of invalids or Jews to be sent to Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen to be gassed, I heard the name of Pohl mentioned.
M. DUBOST: What were the functions of Pohl?
DUPONT: He was chief of the SS administration in Berlin, Division D 2.
M. DUBOST: Could the German people as a whole have been in ignorance of these atrocities, or were they bound to know of them?
DUPONT: As these camps had been in existence for years, it is impossible for them not to have known. Our transport stopped at Treves on its way in. The prisoners in some vans were completely naked while in others they were clothed.
There was a crowd of people around the station and they all saw the transport. Some of them excited the SS men patrolling the platform. But there were other channels through which information could reach the population. To begin with, there were squads working outside the camps. Labor squads went out from Buchenwald to Weimar, Erfurt, and Jena. They left in the morning and came back at night, and during the day they were among the civilian population. In the factories, too, the technical crew were not members of the armed forces. The "Meister" were not SS men. They went home every night after supervising the work of the prisoners all day. Certain factories even employed civilian labor -- the Gustloff works in Weimar, for instance. During the work, the internees and civilians were together.
The civil authorities were responsible for victualling the camps and were allowed to enter them, and I have seen civilian trucks coming into the camp.
The railway authorities were necessarily informed on those matters. Numerous trains carried prisoners daily from one camp to another; or from France to Germany; and these trains were driven by railway men. Moreover, there was a regular daily train to Buchenwald as a terminal station. The railway administrative authorities must, therefore, have been well informed.
Orders were also given in the factories, and industrialists could not fail to be informed regarding the personnel they employed in their factories. I may add that visits took place; the German prisoners were sometimes visited. I knew certain German internees, and I know that on the occasion of those visits they talked to their
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