The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/staff/swedish-television-interview


Archive/File: pub/people/m/muench.hans swedish-television-interview
Last-Modified: 1996/08/10


The source for the booklet mentioned below is:

   Bruchfeld, Stephane: Foernekandet av Foerintelsen. Nynazistisk
   historiefoerfalskning efter Auschwitz, Stockholm 1995, Svenska
   Kommitten Mot Antisemitism.

Mr. Bruchfeld's current (8/10/96) email address is:
Stephane.Bruchfeld@ceifo.su.se



Message-Id: <199509041803.UAA16960@mailbox.swip.net>
From: stephane.bruchfeld@mailbox.swipnet.se (Stephane Bruchfeld)
To: kmcvay@nizkor.almanac.bc.ca
Subject: An interview with Dr. Hans Muench

Date: Mon, 04 Sep 1995 18:01:09 GMT

The following is from a booklet published by the Swedish Committee
Against Antisemitism this year about the denial of the Shoah, or
so-called "Holocaust revisionism". It is the last in a series of
documents that conclude the booklet (written by me).
The interview was conducted in German, and was translated into English
by myself from the Swedish Television's official Swedish version.

=====

The doctor and former SS-Untersturmfuehrer Hans Muench was among
the 40 members of the Auschwitz camp personnel indicted and tried
in Krakow in Poland 1946-1947. The trial led to some 20 death
sentences, but Muench was acquitted.
 
He had taken part in gassings but had refused to assist in the
so-called selections. Some ex-prisoners also testified in his favour.
After his release, Muench returned to Germany where he continued
his medical practice. In 1964 he testified at the Auschwitz trial in
Frankfurt am Main. He agreed to an interview with Swedish television
in 1981, against the wish of his family. It has been broadcast
twice on Swedish TV, in 1982 and 1992.
 
 
Excerpts from an interview with Dr. Hans Muench.
 
[...]
 
Muench: I received eight weeks of normal military training and then
came to the Waffen-SS Institute for Hygiene in Berlin. That was the
highest authority for all institutes of hygiene within the Waffen-SS.
The Waffen-SS was considered to be on an equal footing with the German
army. From Berlin I was ordered to Field Laboratory South-East, and
this Field Laboratory South-East had been set up to deal with the
diseases that had appeared in Auschwitz.
 
Swedish Television: So you came to Auschwitz? Did you know what
Auschwitz was?
 
M: No! It was in 1943, in the spring, early summer. There I...
That field laboratory had been established because of the diseases
that were prevalent in the camp and that leaked out through the
camp fence, and threatened the men and the civilian population.
Expert bacteriological research had to be conducted and adequate
measures taken. That was our task.
 
ST: Not to save the prisoners?
 
M: By no means...There was the possibility, but the risk for a
major epidemic among those close to 100 000 people in unhygienic
conditions and in a not too hygienic environment...
 
ST: The purpose was to save the personnel?
 
M: Yes, and the surroundings. The town of Auschwitz was not far
away. A major epidemic would certainly have erupted. [...] During
my time, the crematories were used several times a week to burn
the corpses that came. Soon after my arrival, at the latest towards
the end of the summer, transports came that were exterminated
and Auschwitz was then used as an extermination camp.
 
ST: The camp that was seven kilometers from Auschwitz was
Birkenau, right?
 
M: Yes, five or seven kilometers. Next to the camp Birkenau was
the machinery of extermination.
 
ST: How do you know that the extermination there was carried out
with gas?
 
M: When one's professional task is to inspect the hygienic
conditions of the camp and one has to pass through the camp it
was impossible not to notice.
 
ST: Did you see the crematories yourself?
 
M: Yes, of course. It wasn't part of my daily routine, but it was
impossible to avoid it, even if I hadn't known what it was.
Everybody active in the SS in Auschwitz knew of course what the
crematories were, and it was impossible not to notice the smoke
and the chimneys and feel the smell. In the SS the use of gas was
discussed quite openly.
 
ST: Were doctors present at the gassings?
 
M: They had to be present. According to strict regulations they had
to be present, as in civilized states at every normal individual
execution for legal reasons. In the same way there was a military
order that at least one doctor had to be present at exterminations
by gas in Auschwitz, for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing had
to be under medical supervision. And the gas wasn't thrown in by
the regular camp personnel but by the camp doctors' medical
orderlies.
 
[...]
 
ST: When you were off-duty you spoke about this? About special
treatment, about the gassing?
 
M: It was discussed very intensely, hardly ideologically, whether
it was ideologically correct to exterminate the Jews, but rather
the technical problems that always occur at this overstraining of
the camp.
 
ST. You refused to participate in it. Could you say so openly?
 
M: I had nothing to do with it in the first place. I was ordered
there and belonged to the Hygienic Institute. One has to explain
those bureaucratic things precisely...
 
ST: I understand that, but did you discuss it with each other?

M: Yes, very intensely, also ideologically.
 
ST: Did you object to it, for example because of medico-ethical
reasons?
 
M: Yes, exactly. Among doctors we could discuss it openly, like
we talk about it today. There was no limit at all. Outwardly you
were completely isolated. Everybody knew very well that among
civilians or military personnel he should never say a word. I was
for instance often in Plaszow... No, not in Plaszow. It was a
training camp for the Waffen-SS, near Krakow. It was also important,
a military camp. There I ate in the messroom, the officers' mess.
There were SS doctors and SS officers too. "Do you come from
Auschwitz?" - everybody wanted to know how it was there. "Is it
really like that? One hears the most horrible things." It was very
difficult to be evasive. I would never have dared to tell any SS
officer, who still had to be considered an "insider", anything at
all about Auschwitz. In Auschwitz it was completely different.
 
ST: There you could dissociate yourself from it?
 
M: Absolutely.
 
ST: What objections did your colleagues have who were for it?
 
M: "Is it necessary to do this in the middle of the war? There will
be time for it later." "One should try to get as big a work force as
possible. It would be better if the people were fed better." That was
one view. Then there was the opposite view. "It has to be done at
once. If we wait any longer there will be objections, and there are
those who are against it."
 
ST: From a purely technical point of view, people were against it?
And economically?
 
M: That was the main problem.
 
ST: But ideologically?
 
M: Ideologically...
 
ST: The majority was for it?
 
M: The majority of the doctors were against it from a purely
technical point of view, and also because of economic reasons.
 
ST: But ideologically in favour?
 
M. Ideologically nobody differed.
 
ST: What was the ideology?
 
M: Simply National Socialism, as expounded by [Alfred] Rosenberg.
The Germanic race was the future of the world and a guarantee
against corruption and mismanagement and for keeping our Europe
pure. The root cause of every evil in culture, of every degeneracy
was the Jews, which is clear from the fact that the Jews weren't
tolerated already in the Middle Ages. There must have been good
reasons to put them into ghettos. There were constant pogroms, not
only in Germany, in the whole of Europe. That is because the Jewish
race is a destructive factor. There is no development, no peace,
nothing worth living for when the Jews have a finger in the pie.
 
ST: Therefore they must be exterminated?
 
M: Because it hasn't succeeded so far in spite of all the severe
measures, but they continually take hold of decisive posts in the
economy, in the state, in cultural life. It has to be stopped. That
can be done only by total physical extermination.
 
[...]
 
ST: Isn't the ideology of extermination contrary to a doctor's
ethical values?
 
M: Yes, absolutely. There is no discussion. But I lived in that
environment, and I tried in every possible way to avoid accepting
it, but I had to live with it. What else could I have done? And I
wasn't confronted with it directly until the order came that I and
my superior and another one had to take part in the exterminations
since the camp's doctors were overloaded and couldn't cope with it.
 
ST: I must ask something. Doubters claim that "special treatment"
could mean anything. It didn't have to be extermination.
 
M: "Special treatment" in the terminology of the concentration camp
means physical extermination. If it was a question of more than a
few people, where nothing else than gassing them was worth while,
they were gassed.
 
ST: "Special treatment" was gassing?
 
M: Yes, absolutely.
 
ST: And "selection".
 
M: That was the selection of those who were still fit for work and
those who were no longer economically useful.
 
ST: Doctors made the "selection"?
 
M: It was supposed to be that way, but it was impossible considering
the number.
 
[...]
 


Stephane Bruchfeld
Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism
stephane.bruchfeld@mailbox.swipnet.se
Address: Box 34036, S-100 26 Stockholm, Sweden

"Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine taetige Unwissenheit" -
Goethe

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