The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

DR. BABEL : Mr. President, this morning I discussed with
General Mitchell some questions which have preoccupied me
for a long time. General Mitchell agreed in the course of
our conversation that my duties and activities are so
extensive, that it will now be necessary to appoint a second
defence counsel for the SS; my presence at the sessions
claims so much of my working time and has become so
exhausting and so burdensome that I am often compelled to be
absent from the Court. I am sorry, but in the prevailing
circumstances, I cannot help it.

Further, I would like to say this: so far, over 40,000
members of the SS have made applications to the Tribunal,
and, although many of these are collective and not
individual applications, you can imagine how wide the field

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, no doubt your work is extensive, but
this morning as I have already told you, General Mitchell
has informed the Tribunal that his interview with you
finished at 10.15, and it appears to the Tribunal that you
must have known that the witnesses who were giving evidence
this morning were giving evidence about concentration camps.

In addition to that, you had obtained the assistance of
another counsel,

                                                  [Page 206]

I think, Dr. Marx, to appear on your behalf, and he did
appear on your behalf, and he will have an opportunity of
cross-examining this witness if he wishes to do so now. The
Tribunal considers that you must conclude your cross-
examination of this witness now. I mean to say, you may ask
any further questions of the witness that you wish.

DR. BABEL: It all amounts to whether I can put a question -
and this I cannot do at the moment; therefore, I must
renounce the cross-examination of the witness now.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, there may be some other German
counsel who wish to cross-examine this witness.

M. Dubost, do you wish to address the Tribunal?

M. DUBOST: I would like to state to the Tribunal that we
have no reason whatsoever to fear a cross-examination of our
witness, or of this morning's witness, at any time, and we
are ready to ask our witnesses to stay in Nuremberg as long
as may be necessary to reply to any questions from the

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, then. Dr. Babel, in view of the
offer of the French prosecutor to keep the witness in
Nuremberg, the Tribunal will allow you to put any questions
you wish to put to him in the course of the next two days.
Do you understand?


DR. KAUFFMANN (Counsel for Kaltenbrunner): Before I question
the witness, I allow myself to raise one point which, I
believe, will have an important influence on the good
progress of the proceedings. The point I wish to raise is
the following - and I speak in the name of my colleagues as
well: - would it not be as well to come to an agreement that
both the prosecution and the defence be informed the day
before a witness is brought in, which witness is to be
heard? The material has now become so considerable that
circumstances make it impossible to ask pertinent questions
- questions which are urgently necessary in the interest of
all parties.

As far as the defence is concerned, we are ready to inform
the Tribunal and the prosecution of the witnesses we intend
to ask for examination at least one day before they are to
be heard.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has already expressed its wish
that they should be informed beforehand of the witnesses who
are to be called and upon what subject. They hope that
Counsel for the prosecution will take note of that wish.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes. I thank you.

(Cross-examination by Dr. Kauffmann)

Q. A point of special significance emerges from the
statements of the witness we heard this morning, as well as
from the statements of this witness; and this point concerns
something which may be of decisive importance for the trial
as a whole.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not here to make a speech at the
moment. You are to ask the witness questions.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes. It is the question of the responsibility
of the German people. The witness has stated that the
civilian population was in a position to know what was going
on, I shall now try to ascertain the truth by means of a
series of questions.

Q. Did civilians look on when executions took place? Would
you answer this?

A. They could see the corpses scattered along the roads when
the prisoners were shot while returning in convoys, and
corpses were even thrown from the trains. And they could
always take note of the emaciated condition of these
prisoners who worked outside, because they saw them.

                                                  [Page 207]

Q Do you know that it was forbidden on pain of death to say
anything outside the camp about the atrocities, anything in
the way of cruelties, torture, etc. that took place inside?

A. As I spent two years in the camp I saw them. Some of them
I saw myself, and the rest were described to me by

Q. Could you please repeat that again? Did you see the
secrecy order? What did you see?

A. Not the order - I saw the execution and that is worse.

Q. My question was this: Do you know that the strictest
orders were given to the SS personnel, to the executioners,
etc ... not to speak even inside the camp, much less outside
it, of the atrocities that went on, and that eyewitnesses
who spoke of them rendered themselves liable to the most
rigorous penalties, including the death penalty?

Do you know anything about that - about such a practice?
Perhaps you will tell me whether you yourself were allowed
to make any observations of the kind.

A. I know that liberated prisoners had to sign a statement
saying that they would never reveal what had happened in the
camp, and that they would forget what had happened, but
those who were in contact with the population, and there
were many of them, did not fail to talk about it.
Furthermore, Mauthausen was situated on a hill. There was a
crematorium, which emitted flames three feet high. When you
see flames three feet high coming out of a chimney, every
night, you are bound to wonder what it is, and everyone must
have known that it was a crematorium.

DR. KAUFFIMANN: I have no further questions. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other counsel for the defendants
wish to ask any questions?

Did you tell us who the Green Prisoners were? You mentioned
Green Prisoners.

THE WITNESS: Yes, these Green Prisoners were prisoners
convicted under the ordinary penal code. They were used by
the SS to police the camps. As I have already said, they
were often more bestial than the SS themselves and acted as
their executioners. They did the things with which the SS
did not wish to soil their hands: but always by order of the

The contact with the "Green" Germans was terrible for the
internees. They could not bear the sight of us because they
realised that we were not their sort, and they persecuted us
for that alone. It was the same in all the camps. In all the
camps we were bullied by the German criminals serving with
the SS.

THE PRESIDENT : Do you wish to ask any question in re-

M. DUBOST: I have no more questions to ask.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

(Witness excused)

M. DUBOST: I had intended to request the Tribunal to allow
us to hear a Norwegian witness, M. Hans Kappelen, but I find
that it is impossible to overcome certain difficulties
connected with interpretation in the case of this witness,
who speaks neither French nor English, and his testimony
would have to be translated into one of those languages,
thus involving certain technical difficulties.

We request the Tribunal, therefore, to hear the French
witness, Dr. Dupont.

THE PRESIDENT Yes, Very well.

(Whereupon the witness took the stand)

THE PRESIDENT: Is your name Dr. Dupont.


THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

                                                  [Page 208]

Do you swear to speak without hate or fear to say the truth,
all the truth, only the truth.

(The witness repeated the oath in French).

THE PRESIDENT: Raise your right hand and say you swear.


THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

(Examination by M. Dubost):

Q. Your name is Victor Dupont.

A. Yes, I am called Victor Dupont.

Q. You were born on 12 December 1909.

A. That is correct.

Q. At Charmes in the Vosges?

A. That is correct.

Q. You are of French nationality, born of French parents?

A. That is correct.

Q. You have won honourable distinctions; what are they?

A. I have the Legion of Honour, I am a Chevalier of the
Legion of Honour. I have been twice mentioned in Dispatches,
and I have the Resistance Medal.

Q. Were you deported to Buchenwald?

A. I was deported to Buchenwald on 24 January 1944.

Q. You stayed there?

A. I stayed there 15 months.

Q. Until 20 May 1945?

A. No, until 20 April 1945.

Q. Will you make your statement on the regime in the
concentration camp where you were interned, and the aim of
those who prescribed this regime?

A. When I arrived at Buchenwald I soon became aware of the
difficult living conditions. The regime imposed upon the
prisoners was not based on any principle of justice. The
principle which formed the basis of this regime was the
principle of the purge. I will explain.

We - I am speaking of the French - were grouped together at
Buchenwald - almost all of us - without having been tried by
any Tribunal.

In 1942, '43, '44 and'45, it was quite unusual to pass any
formal judgement on the prisoners. Many of us were
interrogated and then deported; others were cleared by the
interrogation and deported all the same. Others again were
not interrogated at all. I shall give you three examples.

On 11 November, 1944, elements estimated at several hundred
persons were arrested at Grenoble during a demonstration
commemorating the Armistice. They were brought to
Buchenwald, where the greater part died. The same thing
happened in the village of Verchenie in October 1943. I saw
them at Buchenwald too. It happened again in April, 1944, at
St. Claude, and I saw these fellows brought in in August,

In this way, various elements were assembled at Buchenwald,
subject to martial law. But there were also all kinds of
people, including some who were obviously innocent, who had
either been cleared by interrogation or not even
interrogated at all. Finally, there were some political
prisoners. They had been deported because they were members
of parties which were to be suppressed in their entirety.

That does not mean that the interrogations were not to be
taken seriously. The interrogations which I underwent and
which I saw others undergo were particularly inhuman.

I shall enumerate a few of the methods

Every imaginable kind of beating, immersion in bath-tubs,
squeezing of testicles, hanging, crushing of the head in
iron bands, and the torturing of entire families in each
other's sight. I have, in particular, seen a wife tortured

                                                  [Page 209]

her husband, and children were tortured before their
mothers. For the sake of precision, I will quote one name:
Francis Goret of the Rue de Bourgogne in Paris was tortured
before his mother.

Once in the camp, conditions were the same for everyone.

Q. You spoke of racial purging as a social policy. What was
the criterion?

A. At Buchenwald various elements described as "political,"
"national" - mainly Jews and gipsies - and "social" -
especially criminals - were herded together under the same
regime. There were criminals of every nation: Germans,
Czechs, Frenchmen, etc., all living together under the same
regime. A purge does not necessarily imply extermination,
but this purge was achieved by means of the extermination
already mentioned. It began for us in certain cases - the
decision was taken quite suddenly. I shall give one example:
In 1944 a convoy of several hundred gipsy children arrived
at Buchenwald - by what administrative mystery we never
knew. They were assembled during the winter of 1944 and were
to be sent on to Auschwitz to be gassed.

One of the most tragic memories of my detention is the way
in which these children, knowing perfectly well what was in
store for them, were driven into the vans, screaming and
crying. They went on to Auschwitz the same day.

In other cases the extermination was carried out by
progressive stages. It had already begun when the convoy
arrived. For instance, in the French convoy which left
Compiegne on 24 January 1944 and arrived on 26 January, I
saw one van containing 100 persons, of which 12 were dead
and 8 insane. During the period of my detention I saw
numerous transports come in. The same thing happened every
time; only the numbers varied. In this way the elimination
of a certain proportion had already been achieved when the
convoy arrived. Then they were put in quarantine and exposed
to cold for some hours, while the roll call was taken. The
weaker died. Then came extermination through work. Some of
them were picked out and sent to labour squads such as Dora,
S III and Lora. I noticed that, after those departures which
took place every month - when the contingent was brought up
to strength again - lorry-loads of dead were brought back to
Buchenwald. I even attended the post-mortems on them, and I
can tell you the results. The lesions were those of a very
advanced stage of cachaxia. Those who had stood up to
conditions for one, two or three months -very often
exhibited the lesions characteristic of acute tuberculosis -
mostly of the granular type. In Buchenwald itself, prisoners
had to work; and there, as everywhere else, the only hope of
survival lay in work. Extermination in Buchenwald was
carried out in accordance with a principle of selection laid
down by the medical officer in charge, Dr. Schidlowsky.

Q. Excuse me for interrupting. To what nationality did this
medical officer in charge belong?

A. He was a German SS doctor.

Q. Are you sure of that?

A. Yes, I am quite sure.

Q. Are you testifying as an eye-witness?

A. I am testifying as an eye-witness.

Q. Go on, please.

A. Schidlowsky carried out the selection and picked out the
sick and those suffering from chronic diseases. Prior to
January 1945 they were sent to Auschwitz; later on they went
to Bergen-Belsen. None of them ever returned.

Another case which I witnessed concerns a Jewish labour
squad which was sent to Auschwitz and stayed there several
months. When they came back, they were unfit for even the
lighter work. A similar fate overtook them: they also were
sent to Auschwitz again. I myself personally witnessed these
things. I was present at the selection and I witnessed their

                                                  [Page 210]

Later on, the executions in Buchenwald took place in the
camp itself. To my own knowledge they began in September
1944 in room 7, a little room in the Revier. The men were
done away with by means of inter-cardiac injections. The
number was not great, it did not exceed a few score a day,
at the most.

Later. on convoys came in, and the number of cachaxia cases
increased. The executions had to be speeded up. At first
they were carried out as soon as the transports arrived; but
from January 1945 onwards, they were taken care of in a
special block - Block 61. At that date all those nicknamed
"Musselmans" were collected in this block. We never saw them
without their blankets over their shoulders. They were unfit
for even the lightest work. They had all to go through Block
61. The death-roll varied daily from a minimum of 10 to
about 200 in Block 6l. The execution was performed by
injecting phenol into the heart in the most brutal manner.
The bodies were then carted to the crematorium mostly during
roll-calls or at night.

To give an example: at the end of March, 1945, elements were
withdrawn from the S III detachment. They were in a state of
complete exhaustion when they arrived and quite unfit for
any kind of exertion. They were the first to be removed, two
days after their arrival. It was only about half a mile from
their starting-point in the small camp, i.e., at the back of
the Buchenwald camp to their point of assembly for roll-
call; and to give you an idea of the state of weakness in
which these people were - I need only say that between this
starting point and their assembly-point - that is, over a
distance of half-a-mile, we saw sixty of them collapse and
die. They could go no further. Most of them died very soon -
in a few hours or in the course of the next day.

So much for the systematic extermination which I witnessed
in Buchenwald, including...

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