The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/13

                                                  [Page 386]





BY DR. PELCKMANN (counsel for the SS):

Q. Witness, I have two pictures to show to you. This has
nothing to do with your examination concerning the
concentration camps.

DR. PELCKMANN: They are the same pictures, your Lordship,
which showed to the witness Eisenberger yesterday. They have
now received exhibit numbers from me, Exhibit SS No. 2 and
Exhibit SS No. 3. As I said yesterday, they are taken from
the book written in Polish which the prosecution submitted a
few days ago, on Pages 9 and 11.


Q. What is the rank of this SS man, witness?

A. That cannot be an SS man. He is not wearing an SS
uniform. I never saw such a uniform. On the left arm, the
man wears the insignia of the police and the police shoulder

Q. That is enough, witness, I shall show you the second
photograph Please answer the question just as briefly.

A. That is not an SS uniform either, nor even any uniform in

Q. Thank you, witness. Yesterday you had already begun the
description of the so-called extermination camps and the
system of these camps, but I should like to go back to
conditions in the concentration camps which are to be
distinguished from the so-called extermination camps.

You had given a description of the outward impression given
by these camps which was extraordinarily pleasant. So that
there, may be no false impression, will you please describe
the general observations you made of a negative character.

A. I was asked whether from my impressions of the
concentration camps I gained the idea that they were
extermination camps.

I replied that I did not get that idea. I did not mean to
say that the concentration camps were sanatoria or a
paradise for the prisoners. If they had been that, my
investigations would have been senseless.

Through these investigations I gained insight into the
extremely dark and dismal side of the concentration camps.
The concentration camps were establishments which, to put it
mildly, were bound to give rise to crimes as a result of a
false principle. When I say the principle was at fault, I
mean the following: The prisoner was sent to the
concentration camp through the RSHA. A political agency
decided about his freedom, and its decision was final. Thus
the prisoner was deprived of all legal rights. Once in the
concentration camp, it was almost impossible for him to
regain his freedom, although, at regular intervals, the
cases were reviewed. The procedure was so complicated that
apart from exceptional instances the great majority could
have no hope. The camp, the RSHA, and the agency which had
assigned the individual to the camp had to agree to his
release. Only if these three agencies reached an agreement
could a release be effected.

                                                  [Page 387]

Not only the reason for the arrest was taken into
consideration, but through a monstrous order of the SS
Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, the production side also became
important. If a prisoner was needed in the camp because he
was valuable, even though all conditions for release
existed, he could not be released.

The concentration camps were surrounded by an atmosphere of
secrecy. The prisoner could not have any free contact with
the public.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, we do not have the first
responsibility, of course, for this defence. But I have
discussed with Mr. Elwyn Jones my objection, he has it in
here, and he finds no fault with it. It seems to me that
what we are hearing here is a lecture on the prosecution's
case, and I do not see how it in any sense can be said to be
a defence of the SS.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, the Tribunal thinks that the
latter part of the evidence does not hive much bearing on
the case of the SS. They think it would be better that you
should get on with the case for the SS.

DR. PELCKMANN: The charge against the SS is essentially
based on the assertion that the SS as a whole is responsible
for the concentration camps.

I am endeavouring to explain to the Tribunal the
concentration camp system from the ground up including all
those questions which have not yet been explained either by
the prosecution or the witnesses, to find out the absolute
truth. And I believe that it is necessary for the Tribunal
to know this truth in order to be able to judge whether the
charge of the prosecution that the SS as a whole is
responsible for the atrocities and the mass exterminations
in the concentration camps, or in the extermination camps is
justified. I assert -

THE PRESIDENT. Kindly go on with your case, Dr. Pelckmann.
Will you kindly go on and make it as short as you can upon
those matters which seem to be rather remote.

DR. PELCKMANN: From all the testimony of witnesses which I
bring out here on this point, it will be shown that the
concentration camp system was a closed system.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on with your case. You are to go on with
your case, and not argue with me.


Q. Witness, what were the further negative observations
which you made? Please be brief, as the Tribunal wishes.

A. The prisoner could not contact the public freely, and so
his observations were not made known to the public. In
effect, he was subordinate to the rules of the camp. This
meant that he had the fear that at any time crimes could be
committed against him. I did not have the impression from
these facts that their purpose was to produce a system of
crimes; but, of necessity, individual crimes were bound to

Q. Witness, the events and the atrocities and the mass
exterminations in the concentration camps are precisely what
was charged against the SS. Please describe how these crimes
are to be divided into three categories, and what that has
to do with the total planning of the SS. According to your
information, I distinguish between atrocities caused by
conditions beyond control, atrocities caused by superior
orders, and atrocities caused by individual criminal acts.

A. A large majority of the horrible conditions in some
concentration camps at times did not arise from deliberate
planning, but developed from circumstances which in my
opinion must be called evil, for which the local camp
leaders were not responsible. I am thinking of the outbreak
of epidemics. At irregular intervals many concentration
camps became victims of typhus, spotted typhus and other
sicknesses caused especially by the arrival of prisoners
from the eastern areas in the concentration camps. Although
everything humanly possible was done to prevent

                                                  [Page 388]

these epidemics and to combat them, the death rate which
resulted was extremely high. Another evil was the
irregularities in connection with the arrival of prisoners,
and the insufficient shelter. Many camps were overcrowded.
The prisoners arrived in a weakened condition because, due
to air raids, the transports were under way longer than
expected. Towards the end of the war, there was a general
collapse of the transportation system. Deliveries could not
be carried out to the necessary extent; chemical and
pharmaceutical factories had been systematically bombed; and
all the necessary medicines were lacking. Finally, the
evacuations from the east further burdened the camps, and
crowded them in an unbearable manner.

Q. That is enough on this point. Will you go on to the
second point, the superior orders?

A. As superior orders I consider the mass extermination of
human beings which has already been described, not in the
concentration camps but in separate. extermination places.
There were also execution orders of the RSHA against
individuals and groups of persons.

The third point deals with the majority of individual crimes
of which I said -

THE PRESIDENT: Which is the witness talking about when he
talks about extermination camps?

Which are you talking about? Which do you call extermination


Q. Please answer the question, witness.

A. By extermination camps I mean those which were
established exclusively for the extermination of human
beings with the use of technical means, such as gas.

THE PRESIDENT: Which were they?

THE WITNESS: Yesterday I described the four plans of the
Criminal Commissar Wirth, and referred to the camp
Auschwitz. By "Extermination Camp Auschwitz" I did not mean
the concentration camp. It did not exist there. But I meant
a separate extermination camp near Auschwitz, called
"Monowitz. "

THE PRESIDENT: What were the other ones?

THE WITNESS: I do not know of any other extermination camps.


Q. You were speaking of atrocities on the basis of
individual acts of a criminal nature. Please continue.

A. One must distinguish between the types of perpetrators.
To begin with, there were killings by one prisoner of
another, for example, as an act of revenge. If a prisoner
had broken out, then during the search, because one did not
know where the prisoner was hiding - perhaps in the camp
itself - the whole camp had to line up on the parade
grounds. That often lasted for hours and sometimes a whole
day. The prisoners were tired and hungry, and this long
standing, sometimes in the cold or rain, excited them very
much, so that when the prisoner was recaptured the other
prisoners out of revenge, for his having brought this upon
them, beat him to death when the opportunity presented

There were many cases in which prisoners who had the
impression that one of them was a spy attempted to kill this
prisoner in self-defence. There were cases in which
individual prisoners were weak and could not work very well,
and, in addition, through bad conduct toward the other
prisoners, such as stealing bread or similar things, aroused
the anger of these others, and if one considers, that a
large part of the prisoners were professional criminals who
had already been sentenced before, it seems plausible that
these people acted in this way

                                                  [Page 389]

Q. You need not explain that at the moment, we will come
back to it later. But will you describe another type of

A. Now I come to killings committed by officers of the camp
against prisoners. To give a specific example I should like
to describe the case of the commandant of the concentration
camp Buchenwald, Koch, who was legally tried and executed. A
prisoner was sent to the concentration camp Buchenwald who
was an old Party member. On the basis of his having been an
old fighter he received the position of Kurdirector. He
misused this position to force Polish household employees
under threat of dismissal to commit perverted actions with
him although he himself was very syphilitic. This man was
sentenced to a long prison term by a regular court and after
that sent to the concentration camp. Koch found his files,
considered the sentence an error, and thinking it necessary
to correct this error of justice, had the prisoner put to

Another case of an entirely different sort is the following:
Koch believed that a certain little Jewish prisoner, who had
marked physical peculiarities, was following him to his
various offices in the various camps. In the superstitious
fear of bad luck, he one day gave instructions to have this
prisoner killed.

Another case: Koch believed that his criminal activity, or
certain personal relationships, were known to some
prisoners. In order to protect himself, he had them killed.

Q. How were these killings made possible and could the other
inmates of the camp know about them?

A. The procedure was very simple. The prisoners in question
were called, without being given reasons, and had to report
at the gate of the camp. That was not especially noticeable
because almost every hour prisoners were picked up there for
questioning, for removal to other camps, and so forth. These
prisoners, without the other prisoners knowing about it,
came to the so-called Kommandantur prison, which was outside
the camp. There they were held for a few days, often one or
two weeks, and then the prison supervisor had them killed,
mostly by means of a sham inoculation: actually, they were
given an injection of phenol into the arteries.

Another possibility of secret killing was transfer to the
hospital. The doctor simply stated that a man needed
treatment. He brings him in and after some time he puts him
into a single room and kills him. In all these cases the
record showed that the prisoner in question had died of such
and such a normal illness.

Another case: The prisoner was assigned to a detail of hard
work, generally the so-called "Quarry detail." The Kapo of
this detail is given a hint and then continually makes the
life of the prisoner more difficult by making him work
constantly and persecuting him in all ways. Then the day
arrives when the prisoner loses patience and in order to
escape this torture tries to run away, whereupon the guard
whether he wants to or not has to shoot him.

These different forms of killing varied from case to case.
By that very fact they were outwardly unrecognisable because
they took place in secret places by various methods at
various times. It would appear that the commandant who did
this, like Koch, relied on certain men who were absolutely
devoted to him and who had key positions, such as the
doctors who were arrested, the work supervisor who was also
arrested, and who committed suicide immediately after, and
upon the aid of Kapos who were devoted to him and who co-
operated with him. Where this co-operation was not possible,
such excesses and crimes could not occur.

Q. Did you find such cases and such camps?

A. Yes. I have already mentioned the result of our
investigations. Since the majority of the camps were set up
during the war with new personnel and in the old camps the
personnel in key positions was replaced with new people,
this co-operation could no longer take place.

                                                  [Page 390]

Q. Would it be wrong to assume that all camps and all camp
commandants and all camp doctors acted in the way you have
just described?

A. According to my exhaustive investigations, I can only say
that this assumption would be completely wrong. I really met
commandants who did everything humanly possible for their
prisoners. I met doctors whose every effort was to help sick
prisoners and prevent further sickness.

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