The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/press/nyt.091845


Archive/File: camps/auschwitz nyt.091845
Last-Modified: 1994/12/17
 
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.

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