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New York Times, Sep 18 1945, p. 1.
 
SS Killed 4,000,000 at Oswiecim, Prosecutor Says at Kramer Trial
By the Associated Press
 
LUENEBURG, Germany, Sept. 17 -- Testimony that more than 4,000,000
persons had died at the Oswiecim concentration camp was promised by the
prosecution today at the opening of the military trial of Josef Kramer
and forty-four SS henchmen for conspiracy to commit mass murder.
 
A converted gymnasium in the heart of this picturesque medieval city
served as a courtroom for the British military court trying Kramer --
known as the "beast of Belsen" for the regime of horror he instituted at
that camp after his transfer from Oswiecim -- and the twenty-three men
and twenty-one women who had served under him.
 
At the outset, Maj. Gen. M.P.M. Berney-Ficklin, heading the court,
brushed aside efforts of British officers defending the accused to get
separate trials on the Oswiecim and Belsen camp charges.
 
Then Col. T.M. Backhouse, chief prosecutor, capped a cold, precise,
two-hour-long recital of the incredible crimes charged to that
forty-five with a disclosure that he had a witness who had seen records
of 4,000,000 deaths at Oswiecim.
 
Mass starvation, beatings and torture, filth and disease and despair,
inamtes driven to cannibalism -- that was the picture Colonel Backhouse
painted for the men trying the Nazis, by royal warrant, on behalf of all
Allied countries whose nationalis suffered in the camp.
 
Throughout, the sullen Kramer and his stone-faced co-defendants sat
impassibe, under guard of red-capped British military policemen and
brisk ATS women serving as court matrons.
 
Twelve of them -- including Kramer and the SS woman Irma Grese who,
Colonel Backhouse said, had been called the worst of the women guards --
were charged with crimes at Oswiecim, where
 
Continued on Page 9, Column 4
 
Continued From Page 1
 
Kramer commanded the Birkenau compound, infamous as the biggest and worst
of Germany's mass murder factories, until he was moved to Belsen five
months before the British armies liberated it April 15.
 
"At Oswiecim, the prosecution will say there was the deliberate cold-blooded
extermination of millions," Colonel Backhouse told the court.  He added:
 
"Every member of the Belsen gang bore a share in treatment they knew
would cause death and physical suffering.  We will provide evidence that
they committed deliberate acts of cruelty and willful murder."
 
13,000 Corpses Discovered
 
[Five paragraphs of Belsen information omitted - JRM]
 
Colonel Backhouse said he had evidence to prove that "everyone" of the
Oswiecim guards was guilty of "deliberate mass murder."
 
He said women guards had made a sport of setting a large hound on feeble
prisoners to tear them apart.  Thousands of others, he said, were gassed
to death in a "shower room," and their bodies hauled to a crematorium on
a trolley car.
 
Maj. L.S.W. Cranfield of the British defense attorneys reserved the right
to file a formal objection to the charges on the grounds that they did
not disclose offenses against international law.  He asked to confer
with an international law expert.
 
Kramer and the other defendants all pleaded innocent when arraigned.

=== Commentary on the above article ===

Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 03:09:24 GMT
Message-Id: <199603050227.UAA25122@legend.txdirect.net>
From: "Harry W. Mazal OBE" 

I will go through the newspaper article carefully and compare it
with the actual words recorded in the trial. The journalist might
be  indulging in a bit of sensationalistic license in the article by
focussing on the Prosecution's Opening Speech  rather than
on the Indictment: 

My information can be corroborated in:

_Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others (The Belsen Trial)_
  edited by:  Raymond Phillips, M.C. , M.A., B.C.L. (Oxon.),
                     Barrister-at-Law,   with a foreword by:
                     The Right Hon. Lord Jowitt,
                      Lord Chancellor of England
  c. 1949, William Hodge and Company, London-Edinburgh-Glasgow
                     
>New York Times, Sep 18 1945, p. 1.
 
>SS Killed 4,000,000 at Oswiecim, Prosecutor Says at Kramer Trial
>By the Associated Press

The reporter could only have written about what happened at the Trial
on 17th September, 1945. The "Table of Contents" for that day reads:

                 "First Day -- Monday, 17th September, 1945"

"Indictment...............................................4

Request by Defense for the services of 
an expert on International Law............................5

Application of Defense for charges to be heard separately.7

Application of Defense for separate trials...............12 

Opening Speech for the Prosecution.......................14"

>LUENEBURG, Germany, Sept. 17 -- Testimony that more than 4,000,000
>persons had died at the Oswiecim concentration camp was promised by the
>prosecution today at the opening of the military trial of Josef Kramer
>and forty-four SS henchmen for conspiracy to commit mass murder.

from pp. 4-7

                                        "INDICTMENT"

"The accused, Josef Kramer, Fritz Klein [et al] [...] are charged with

                           COMMITTING A WAR CRIME
                               In That They

1st Charge.

At Bergen-Belsen, Germany,  between 1st  October, 1942 and 30th April,
1945 [...] were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of certain
such persons [interned there], causing the deaths of Keith Meyer (a British
national), Anna Kis, ... [list of 11 others follows] [...] and other Allied
nationals whose names are unknown. [...]

2nd Charge.

The accused, Josef Kramer, Fritz Klein [et al.] [...] are charged with 

                            COMMITTING A WAR CRIME
                                 In That They

at Auschwitz, Poland, between 1st October, 1942, and 30th April, 1945,
when members of the staff of Auschwitz Concentration Camp responsible
for the well-being of the persons interned there, in violation of the law and
usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of
such persons, causing the deaths of Rachella Silberstein (a Polish national),
Allied nationals and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown, and
physical suffering to other persons interned there, Allied nationals, and
particularly to Ewa Gryka and Hanka Rosenwayg (both Polish nationals)
and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown."  

The indictment steers clear of any numerical rhetoric. It is simple and clear,
as documents of this sort have to be. The Prosecutor only has to prove that
the accused are guilty of these specific charges.

>A converted gymnasium in the heart of this picturesque medieval city
>served as a courtroom for the British military court trying Kramer --
>known as the "beast of Belsen" for the regime of horror he instituted at
>that camp after his transfer from Oswiecim -- and the twenty-three men
>and twenty-one women who had served under him.

Quite true, but it looks more like a rather large and elegant ballroom,
not a converted gymnasium.  (photo of No. 30 Lindenstrasse, Lu"neburg,
scene of the Belsen Trial, and Interior view of the court-room, page xlviii)

>At the outset, Maj. Gen. M.P.M. Berney-Ficklin, heading the court,
>brushed aside efforts of British officers defending the accused to get
>separate trials on the Oswiecim and Belsen camp charges.

"Brushed aside" is a poor choice of words. The Judge Advocate states
on page 12, after hearing the pleas from the defense:

"The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- May it please the court. The application 
by the Defense is that it would not be right, that it would be embarrassing
and improper if you were to take the whole of the evidence together
which relates to these two charges,  and if you were to try the accused
at one and the same time.There is an application to sever these charges, 
that is to say, that this Court should first of all deal with the first charge
and thereafter this or a different Court should proceed to deal with the
second charge. This is a matter entirely for you.

                                  (The Court close and confer)

The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- Captain Phillips , the  Court ask me to say
that they are indebted to you for a very clear and cogent argument and that
they have understood it very clearly. They have considered it, but over-
rule this application and they will not sever the first charge from the
second. That being so, the Court will listen to anything more you have to
say." 

[Captain Phillips goes on to make an impassioned plea basing himself on
Regulation 8 of the Royal Warrant or the Regulations made under the
Royal Warrant.]

" All the Defending Officers then made application for separate trials
based on Captain Phillips' argument." 

[Colonel Backhouse, Counsel for the Prosecution, argues his point at
length, ending with:]

[...] I ask the Court to regard the application as a whole as being one 
which must fall to the ground that there is ample evidence on the 
summary that there was concerted action by these people at Auschwitz
and at Belsen. [...]

                                "The Court close and confer"

"The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- Captain Phillips, I will address my remarks
to you,  but they equally apply to your colleagues who addressed
arguments to the Court.  The Court have considered the arguments and
they feel that these are cases which do not fall within Regulation 8 (2)
and that they are therefore bound to comply with the Regulation.  That
being so,  they must refuse the applications.  Tha means that no accused
will be tried separately so far as this trial is concerned."

Not what I would call a "brush-off" at all.

>Then Col. T.M. Backhouse, chief prosecutor, capped a cold, precise,
>two-hour-long recital of the incredible crimes charged to that
>forty-five with a disclosure that he had a witness who had seen records
>of 4,000,000 deaths at Oswiecim.

That he does.  In the Opening Speech for the Prosecution, pp. 14/30,
he states (p.17):

Colonel BACKHOUSE  --  [...] In respect of Auschwitz I will go further
and say that not only will the Prosecution  ask you to say that it was
done with the deliberate knowledge that the conditions would cause 
death, but that there was deliberate killing of thousands and probably
millions of people, quite deliberate, cold-blooded extermination of
millions of people in that camp, and that each of the accused who was
serving at Auschwitz and is charged in the second charge, had his or
her share in this joint endeavor in this group of persons who were
carrying out this policy of deliberate extermination.  In respect of
Belsen, there will not be an allegation that there was a gas chamber,
or that persons were herded by the thousands to their death, but there
will be an allegation that by the treatment that was given to the people
at Belsen every member of the staff at Belsen who stands before you
bore their share in that treatment, which they knew was causing and 
would continue to cause death and injury." 

He then goes on to accuse the defendants of a long series of crimes until,
on page 27 he states:

"[...] For instance, on 1st December, 1943, there were 4124 women in
hospital. 4000 were taken out and gassed, patients were made to run naked
around the hospital and those who could not keep up were taken to the
gas chamber. In May, 1944, you will hear that the gas chambers were being
used so fast that the crematoria could not keep up with them and the
bodies had to be thrown in ditches and burned. One of the men who 
worked in one of the crematoria will tell you that in three months, in one
of the five chambers alone 20,000 people were gassed, and you will hear
from a  witness, herself a doctor , that from records she has seen there were
no less than 4,000,000 people cremated in that camp. You will hear an 
actual account of what the gassing was like from two people who were
sent into the gas chambers and rescued at the last moment, and you will
hear that the victims foamed at the mouth, turned blue, and finally died."

So there we have it: the famous use of four million in a Court of Law. Let us
now search for the testimony and see how it was  used. The  "witness,
herself a doctor" is Dr. Ada Bimko, whose testimony and cross-examination
begins on page 66  and ends  on page 78. Dr. Bimko describes the chambers,
the selections and many other grim features of Auschwitz and Belsen.
On page 68 she states in response to the question by Col. Backhouse:

"[Col. Backhouse]  Did any of the prisoners keep any records in
respect of these gas chambers? -- [Dr. Bimko] Yes. There were a
number of internees working in these crematoria and this working
Kommando had the name of 'Sonderkommando,' special Kommando.
These Kommandos were changed after a few months because they
themselves were also destroyed. Thet were gassed. One of those
who took part on  these Kommandos before being gassed had
complete records of all these transports which arrived, and they
eventually were destroyed. He himself, in fact, kept records also
and he said that the number of Jews who were destroyed in this
gas chamber would be about four million." 

Oddly enough, none of the Defense Counsel make any inquiries
regarding this number in their cross-examination.

>Mass starvation, beatings and torture, filth and disease and despair,
>inmates driven to cannibalism -- that was the picture Colonel Backhouse
>painted for the men trying the Nazis, by royal warrant, on behalf of all
>Allied countries whose nationals suffered in the camp.

This is probably quite right.

>Throughout, the sullen Kramer and his stone-faced co-defendants sat
>impossible, under guard of red-capped British military policemen and
>brisk ATS women serving as court matrons.

No doubt...

[Major text deletion]

My impression is that Dr. Bimko is repeating hearsay. I cannot believe
that she actually saw, as the opening statement by the Prosecution said:

"[...]  that from records she has seen there were no less than 4,000,000
people cremated in that camp."

Any comments?

Harry


===

Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 22:21:51 GMT
Message-Id: <199603042208.XAA20440@mailbox.swip.net>
From: stephane.bruchfeld@mailbox.swipnet.se (Stephane Bruchfeld)
Subject: Re: The original four million allegation (fwd)

In the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet there is a small item on
May 8 1945, under the heading "No survivors from Dachau" (an allusion
to a Himmler order), which says:

        On Monday [7th of May] Radio Moscow cited an article
        in Pravda according to which Himmler is regarded as
        directly responsible for the crimes that have been 
        committed in the German concentration camp in Auschwitz.
        More than 4 million human beings have reportedly been
        exterminated in the Auschwitz camp, among them many Russians,
        Poles, Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen, Czechs, Yugoslavs,
        Rumanians and Hungarians.

No mention of any Jews, but it seems someone who can read
Russian should take a look at Pravda, May 7 1945.



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