The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Page 39, last paragraph, shows what kind of people the
prison staff consisted of: "They were recruited from the
NSKK (National Socialist Motor Corps) and the SA because of
their political views and because they were above any
suspicion and would submit to a harsh discipline." This is
also to be found in the file of the Public Prosecutor at
Cologne.

At Rheinbach those condemned to death and destined to be
executed in Cologne, were beaten to death for any break of
this discipline. We can easily imagine the brutality of the
men who were in charge of the prisoners. The German official
text will furnish us with details regarding the executions.
The condemned were guillotined. Nearly all the condemned
showed surprise, say the German documents which we are
analysing, and expressed their dissatisfaction at being
guillotined, instead of being shot, for patriotic deeds of
which they were declared guilty. They thought they deserved
to be treated as soldiers.

Among those executed in Cologne were some young people of
eighteen and nineteen years of age, and one woman. Some
French women, who were political prisoners, were taken from
the Lubeck prison in order to be executed in Hamburg. They
were nearly always charged with the same thing, "helping the
enemy." The files are incomplete, but we have those of the
Prosecutor of Cologne; in every case the offences committed
were of the same nature. Keitel systematically rejected all
appeals for mercy which were submitted to him.

Although the lot of those who were held in the prisons was
very hard, and sometimes terrible, it was infinitely less
cruel than the fate of those Frenchmen who had the
misfortune to be interned in the concentration camps. The
Tribunal is well informed about these camps; my colleagues
of the United Nations have presented a long statement on
this matter. The Tribunal will remember that it has already
been shown a map indicating the exact location of every camp
which existed in Germany and in the occupied countries. We
shall not, therefore, revert to the geographical
distribution of the camps.

With the permission of the Tribunal I should now like to
deal with the conditions under which Frenchmen and nationals
of the Western Occupied Countries were taken to these camps.
Before their departure, the internees, who were victims of
arbitrary arrest, such as I described to you this morning,
were brought together in prisons or in assembly camps in
France.

The main assembly camp in France was at Compiegne. It is
from there that most of the deportees left who were to be
sent to Germany. There were two other assembly camps, Beaume
La Rolande and Pithiviers, reserved especially for Jews, and
Drancy. The conditions under which people were interned in
those camps were rather similar to those under which
internees in

                                                  [Page 178]

the German prisons lived. With your permission I shall not
dwell any longer on this. The Tribunal will have taken
judicial notice of the declarations made by Monsieur
Blechmall and Monsieur Jacob in Document 457, which I am now
submitting as Exhibit RF 328.

THE PRESIDENT: Which book is this in?

M. DUBOST: That is in the eleventh group of papers in the
new file.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it the book which is described as
"deporation?"

M. DUBOST: That is correct. It is entitled "Deporation" and
it is the eleventh document in the book.

THE PRESIDENT: The index, M. Dubost, does not include that.
457 is it?

M. DUBOST: 457.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we have it.

M. DUBOST: To avoid making these discussions too long and
too ponderous with long quotations and testimonies which,
after all, are very similar, we shall confine ourselves to
reading to the Tribunal a passage from the testimony of
Monsieur Jacob concerning the conduct of the German Red
Cross. This passage is to be found on page 4 at the very
bottom of the French document:

  "We received a visit from several prominent Germans, such
  as Stulpnagel, Du Paty de Clem, Commissioner for Jewish
  Questions, and Colonel Baron von Berg, Vice President of
  the German Red Cross. This von Berg was very formal and
  very spectacular. He always wore the small insignia of
  the Red Cross, which did not prevent his being inhuman
  and a thief."

And on page 6, the penultimate paragraph, Colonel von Berg
was, as we have already said earlier, very spectacular.

I omit two lines.

THE PRESIDENT: Which paragraph now?

M. DUBOST : Page 6, last three lines.

  "In spite of his title of Vice President of the German
  Red Cross, of which he dared to wear the insignia, he
  selected at random a number of our comrades for
  deportation."

Concerning the assembly centre of Compiegne, the Tribunal
will find in document 174-F, pages 14 and 15, some details
about the fate of the internees. I do not think it is
necessary to read them.

In Norway, Holland and Belgium there were, as in France,
assembly camps The most typical of these camps, and
certainly the best known, is the Breendonck Camp in Belgium,
about which it is necessary to give the Tribunal a few
details because a great many Belgians were interned there
and died of privations, hardships and tortures of all kinds,
or were executed either by shooting or by hanging.

This camp was established in the Fortress of Breendonck in
1940, and we are now extracting from a document which we
have already deposited as 231-F and which is also known as
UK-76, a few details about the conditions prevailing in that
camp. It is the fourth document in your new document book.
It is marked 231-F, and is entitled, "Report on the
Concentration Camp of Breendonck."

THE PRESIDENT: What did you say the name of the camp is?

M. DUBOST: Breendonck, B-r-e-e-n-d-o-n-c-k.

We will ask the Tribunal to be good enough to grant us a few
minutes. Our duty is to expose in rather more detail the
conditions at this camp because a considerable number of
Belgians were interned there and their internment took a
rather special form. I will read a few pages:

   "The Germans occupied this fort in August 1940, and they
   brought the internees there in September. They were
   Jews. The Belgian Government has not been able to find
   out how many people were interned from Sep-
   
                                                  [Page 179]
   
   tember 1940 to August 1944, when the camp was evacuated
   and Belgium liberated. Nevertheless, it is thought that
   about 3,000 to 3,600 internees passed through the camp
   of Breendonck. About 250 died of privation; 450 were
   shot and 12 were hanged.
   
   But we must bear in mind the fact that the majority of
   the prisoners in Breendonck were transferred at various
   times to camps in Germany. Most of those transferred
   prisoners did not return. There should, therefore, be
   added to those who died in Breendonck, all those who did
   not survive their captivity in Germany.
   
   Various categories of prisoners were received into the
   camp: Jews - for whom the regime was more severe than
   for the others: Communists and Marxists, of which there
   were a good many, in spite of the fact that those who
   interrogated them had nothing definite against them:
   persons who belonged to the Resistance: people who had
   been denounced to the Germans: hostages, among them -'

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): M. Dubost, where have you got
to now?

M. DUBOST: The fourth paragraph of the second page.

   "... hostages, among them Monsieur Fougery, a former
   minister, and Monsieur van Kesbeek, who was a liberal
   deputy, were interned there for ten weeks as expiation
   for the throwing of a grenade on the main square of
   Malines. Both of them died after their liberation as a
   result of the ill-treatment which they suffered in that
   camp.
   
   There were also in that camp some black market
   operators, and the Belgian Government said of them that
   they were not ill-treated, and were even given
   preferential treatment." That is in paragraph (b) of
   page 2.
   
   "The prisoners were compelled to work. The most
   repugnant collective punishments were inflicted on the
   slightest pretext. One of these punishments consisted in
   forcing the internees to crawl under the beds and to
   stand up at command; this was done to the accompaniment
   of whipping." You will find that at the top of page 3 of
   the first paragraph.

In the second paragraph of the same page is a description of
the conditions of the prisoners who were isolated from the
others, and kept in solitary confinement. They were forced
to wear a hood every time they had to leave their cells or
when they had to come in contact with other prisoners.

THE PRESIDENT: This is a long report, is it not?

M. DUBOST: That is why I am summarising it rather than
reading it, and I do not think I can make it any shorter,
because it was given to me by the Belgian Government, which
attaches much importance to the brutalities, excesses and
atrocities that were committed by the Germans in the Camp of
Breendonck, and suffered by the whole of the population,
especially the Belgian elite.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. I understand you are summarising
it?

M. DUBOST: I am now summarising it, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well.

M. DUBOST : I had reached, in my summary, the description of
the life of these prisoners who had been put into cells and
who sometimes wore handcuffs and had their feet shackled.
They could not leave their cells without being forced to
wear a hood.

One of these prisoners, M. Paquet, states that he spent
eight months under such a regime, and when one day he tried
to lift the hood so as to find his way, he received a
violent blow with the butt of a gun which broke three
vertebrae in his neck.

On page 8 are the following: discipline, labour, acts of
brutality, murders. We are told that the work of the
prisoners consisted of removing the earth

                                                  [Page 180]

covering the fort, and carrying it outside the moat. This
work was done by hand. It was very painful and dangerous,
and caused the loss of a great many human lives.

Small wagons were used. The wagons were hurled along the
rails by the SS and they often broke the legs of the
prisoners who were not warned of their approach. The SS made
a game of this, and at the slightest stoppage they would
rush at the internees and beat them.

One page further, in paragraph 5, in the middle of the page,
we are told that frequently, for no reason at all, the
prisoners were thrown into the moat surrounding the fort.
According to the report of the Belgian Government, dozens of
prisoners were drowned. Some prisoners were killed after
they had been buried up to their necks, and the SS finished
them off by kicking them or beating them with a stick. Food,
clothing, correspondence, medical care, all this information
is given in this report, as in all the other similar reports
which I have already read to you.

The conclusion is important and should be read in part, -
second paragraph:

   "The former internees of Breendonck, many of whom have
   experienced the concentration camps in Germany,
   Buchenwald, Neuengamme, Oranienburg, state that,
   generally speaking, the conditions prevailing at
   Breendonck as regards discipline and food, were worse.
   They add that, in the camps in Germany which were more
   crowded, they felt less under the domination of their
   guards, and had the feeling that their lives were less
   in danger."

The figures given in this report are only minimum figures.
To quote but one example, in the last paragraph of the last
page: M. Verheirstraeten declares that he put 120 people in
their coffins during the two months, December 1942 to
January 1943. If one bears in mind the executions of the 6
and 13 of January, which accounted for the lives of 20
persons, respectively, we see that during that time, that is
to say, over a period of two months, 80 persons died of
disease or ill-treatment. From these camps the internees
were transported to Germany in convoys, and a description of
these should be given to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal should know, first of all, that from France
alone, excluding the three departments of the Haut-Rhine,
Bas-Rhine, and Moselle, 326 convoys left between 1 January
1944 and 25 August of the same year, that is to say, an
average of ten convoys per week. Each convoy transported
from 1,000 to 2,000 persons, and we know now, from what our
witness has just said, that each truck carried from 60 to
120 individuals. It appears that there left from France,
excluding the above mentioned three Northern departments,
three convoys in 1940, 19 convoys in 1941, 104 convoys in
1942, 257 convoys in 1943. These are figures given in
document 274, page 14 of the book which we submitted to the
Tribunal this morning.

These convoys nearly always left from the Compiegne camp
where more than 50,000 internees were registered and from
there 78 convoys left in 1943 and 95 convoys in 1944.

The purpose of these deporations was to terrorise the
population. The Tribunal will remember the text I read; that
the families, not knowing what became of the internees, were
seized with terror, and advantage was taken of this to round
up more workers to replace German labour resources which had
become depleted, owing to the war with Russia.

The manner in which these deportations were carried out not
only made it possible more or less to select this labour,
but also it constituted the first stage of a new German
policy which we now see appearing; that is purely and simply
the extermination of all racial or intellectual categories
whose political activity appeared a menace to the Nazi
leaders.

                                                  [Page 181]

These deportees, who were locked up 80 or 120 in each truck
in any season, who could neither sit nor crouch down, were
given nothing whatsover to eat or drink during their
journey. In this connection we would particularly like to
put forward Dr. Steinberg's testimony, taken by Lt. Col.
Badin, from the Committee for the Investigation of Enemy War
Crimes in Paris, Document 392-F, which we submit as Exhibit
RF 330, which is the 12th in your document book. We will
read only a few paragraphs on page 2. Paragraph 3-third from
the bottom:

   "We were crowded into cattle trucks, about 70 in each.
   Sanitary conditions were frightful. Our journey lasted
   two days. We reached Auschwitz on the 24 June 1942. It
   should be noted that we had been given no food at all
   when we left and that we had to live during those two
   days on what little food we had taken with us from
   Drancy."

The deportees were at times refused water by the German Red
Cross. Evidence was taken by the Ministry of Prisoners and
Deportees, and this appears in document 274-F, the bound
book, page 12, paragraph 3, 4th and 5th lines.

It is about a convoy of Jewish women which left Bobigny
station on 19 June 1942. "They travelled for three days and
three nights, dying of thirst. At Breslau they begged the
nurses of the German Red Cross to give them a little water,
but in vain."

Moreover, Lt. Geneste and Dr. Bloch have testified to the
same facts and other different facts, which are set out in
the printed document, Exhibit RF 321, entitled
"Concentration Camps," which we have been able to submit to
you in three languages: French, Russian, and German, the
English version having been exhausted. Page 21, at the top
of the page:

"In the station of Bremen water was refused to us by the
German Red Cross, who said that there was no water." This is
the testimony of Lt. Geneste of O.R.C.G. Concerning this
conduct of the German Red Cross, and to conclude the
subject, there is one more word to be said. This same
document gives you - on page 162, paragraph 3 - the proof
that it was an ambulance car bearing a red cross which
carried gas in iron containers, destined for the gas
chambers of Auschwitz camp.

(The Tribunal was adjourned until 28th January 1946 at 1000
hours.)

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