The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/25

MR. DODD: This affidavit, if it please the Tribunal, bears the
Document number 3249-PS, and I wish to offer it at this time. It
is Exhibit USA 663. I feel that we can reduce the extent of this
interrogation by approximately three-fourths through the
submission of this affidavit and I should like to read it. It will
take much less time to read this affidavit than it would to go
through it in question and answer form, and it covers a large part
of what we expect to elicit from this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well.

MR. DODD: I would not have read it if we had had time to have a
Russian and French translation, but unfortunately that was not
possible in the few days we had.

                                                        [Page 205]

   "I, Franz Blaha, being duly sworn, depose and state as follows:
   
   I studied medicine in Prague, Vienna, Strassburg and Paris and
   received my diploma in 1920. From 1920 to 1926 I was a clinical
   assistant. In 1926 I became chief physician of the Iglau
   Hospital in Moravia, Czechoslovakia. I held this position until
   1939, when the Germans entered Czechoslovakia, and I was seized
   as a hostage and held a prisoner for co-operating with the
   Czech Government. I was sent as a prisoner to the Dachau
   Concentration Camp in April, 1941, and remained there until the
   liberation of the camp in April, 1945. Until July, 1941, I
   worked in a Punishment Company. After that I was sent to the
   hospital and subjected to the experiments in typhoid being
   conducted by Dr. Murmelstadt. After that I was to be made the
   subject of an experimental operation, and only succeeded in
   avoiding this by admitting that I was a physician. If this had
   been known before I would have suffered, because intellectuals
   were treated very harshly in the Punishment Company. In
   October, 1941, I was sent to work in the herb plantation, and
   later in the laboratory for processing herbs. In June, 1942, I
   was taken into the hospital as a surgeon. Shortly afterwards I
   was directed to conduct a stomach operation on 20 healthy
   prisoners. Because I would not do this I was put in the autopsy
   room, where I stayed until April, 1945. While there I performed
   approximately 7,000 autopsies. In all, 12,000 autopsies were
   performed under my direction.
   
   From mid-1941 to the end of 1942 some 500 operations on healthy
   prisoners were performed. These were for the instruction of the
   S.S. medical students and doctors and included operations on
   the stomach, gall bladder, spleen and throat. These were
   performed by students and doctors of only two years' training,
   although they were very dangerous and difficult. Ordinarily
   they would not have been done except by surgeons with at least
   four years' surgical practice. Many prisoners died on the
   operating table and many others from later complications. I
   performed autopsies on all of these bodies. The doctors who
   supervised these operations were Lang, Murmelstadt, Wolter,
   Ramsauer and Kahr. Standartenfuehrer Dr. Lolling frequently
   witnessed these operations.
   
   During my time at Dachau I was familiar with many kinds of
   medical experiments carried on there with human victims. These
   persons were never volunteers but were forced to submit to such
   acts. Malaria experiments on about 1,200 people were conducted
   by Dr. Klaus Schilling between 1941 and 1945. Schilling was
   personally asked by Himmler to conduct these experiments. The
   victims were either bitten by mosquitoes or given injections of
   malaria sporozoites taken from mosquitoes. Different kinds of
   treatment were applied, including quinine, pyrifer,
   neosalvarsan, antipyrin, pyramidon and a drug called 2516
   Behring. I performed autopsies on bodies of people who died
   from these malaria experiments. 30 to 40 died from the malaria
   itself. 300 to 400 died later from diseases which proved fatal
   because of the physical condition resulting from the malaria
   attacks. In addition there were deaths resulting from poisoning
   due to overdoses of neosalvarsan and pyramidon. Dr. Schilling
   was present at the time of my autopsies on the bodies of his
   patients.
   
   In 1942 and 1943 experiments on human beings were conducted by
   Dr. Sigismund Rascher to determine the effects of changing air
   pressure. As many as 25 persons were put at one time into a
   specially constructed van in which pressure could be increased
   or decreased as required. The purpose was to find out the
   effects of high altitude and of rapid parachute descents on
   human beings. Through a window in the van I have seen the
   people lying on the floor of the van. Most of the prisoners who
   were made use of, died as a result of these experiments, from
   internal hemorr-
   
                                                        [Page 206]
   
   hages of the lungs or brain. The rest coughed blood when taken
   out. It was my job to take the bodies out and to send the
   internal organs to Munich for study as soon as they were found
   to be dead. About 400 to 500 prisoners were experimented on.
   Those not dead were sent to invalid blocks and liquidated
   shortly afterwards. Only a few escaped.
   
   Rascher also conducted experiments on the effect of cold water
   on human beings. This was done to find a way for reviving
   aviators who had fallen into the ocean. The subject was placed
   in ice cold water and kept there until he was unconscious.
   Blood was taken from his neck and tested each time his body
   temperature dropped one degree. This drop was determined by a
   rectal thermometer. Urine was also periodically tested. Some
   men lasted as long as 24 to 36 hours. The lowest body
   temperature reached was 19 degrees C., but most men died at 25
   degrees C., or 26 degrees C. When the men were removed from the
   ice water attempts were made to revive them by artificial
   warmth from the sun, from hot water, from electro-therapy or by
   animal warmth. For this last experiment prostitutes were used
   and the body of the unconscious man was placed between the
   bodies of two women. Himmler was present at one such
   experiment. I could see him from one of the windows in the
   street between the blocks. I have personally been present at
   some of these cold water experiments when Rascher was absent,
   and I have seen notes and diagrams on them in Rascher's
   laboratory. About 300 persons were used in these experiments.
   The majority died. Of those who lived many became mentally
   deranged. Those not killed were sent to invalid blocks and were
   killed, just as were the victims of the air pressure
   experiments. I only know two who survived - a Yugoslav and a
   Pole, both of whom have become mental cases.
   
   Liver puncture experiments were performed by Dr. Brachtl on
   healthy people, and on people who had diseases of the stomach
   and gall bladder. For this purpose a needle was jabbed into the
   liver of a person and a small piece of the liver was extracted.
   No anaesthetic was used. The experiment is very painful and
   often had serious results, as the stomach or large blood
   vessels were often punctured, and haemorrhage resulted. Many
   persons died of these tests, for which Polish, Russian, Czech
   and German prisoners were employed. Altogether these
   experiments were conducted on about 175 people.
   
   Phlegmone experiments were conducted by Dr. Schutz, Dr. Babor,
   Dr. Kieselwetter and Professor Lauer. Forty healthy men were
   used at a time, of whom 20 were given intra-muscular, and 20
   intravenous injections of pus from diseased persons. All
   treatment was forbidden for three days, by which time serious
   inflammation and in many cases general blood poisoning had
   occurred. Then each group was divided again into groups of 10.
   Half were given chemical treatment with liquid and special
   pills every 10 minutes for 24 hours. The rest were treated with
   sulfanamide and surgery. In some cases all of the limbs were
   amputated. My autopsy also showed that the chemical treatment
   had been harmful and had even caused perforations of the
   stomach wall. For these experiments Polish, Czech and Dutch
   priests were ordinarily used. Pain was intense in such
   experiments. Most of the 600 to 800 persons who were used
   finally died. Most of the others became permanent invalids and
   were later killed.
   
   In the autumn of 1944 there were 60 to 80 persons who were
   subjected to salt water experiments. They were locked in a room
   and for five days were given nothing to swallow but salt water.
   During this time their urine, blood and excrement were tested.
   None of these prisoners died, possibly because they received
   smuggled food from other prisoners. Hungarians and Gipsies were
   used for these experiments.
   
                                                        [Page 207]
   
   It was common practice to remove the skin from dead prisoners.
   I was commanded to do this on many occasions. Dr. Rascher and
   Dr. Wolter in particular asked for this human skin from human
   backs and chests. It was chemically treated and placed in the
   sun to dry. After that it was cut into various sizes for use as
   saddles, riding breeches, gloves, house slippers and ladies'
   handbags. Tattooed skin was especially valued by S.S. men.
   Russians, Poles and other inmates were used in this way, but it
   was forbidden to cut out the skin of a German. This skin had to
   be from healthy prisoners and free from defects. Sometimes we
   did not have enough bodies with good skin and Rascher would
   say, 'All right, you will get the bodies.' The next day we
   would receive 20 or 30 bodies of young people. They would have
   been shot in the neck or struck on the head so that the skin
   would be uninjured. Also we frequently got requests for the
   skulls or skeletons of prisoners. In those cases we boiled the
   skull or the body. Then the soft parts were removed and the
   bones were bleached and dried and reassembled. In the case of
   skulls it was important to have a good set of teeth. When we
   got an order for skulls from Oranienburg the S.S. men would
   say, 'We will try to get you some with good teeth.' So it was
   dangerous to have a good skin or good teeth.
   
   Transports arrived frequently in Dachau from Studthof, Belsen,
   Auschwitz, Mauthausen and other camps. Many of these were 10 to
   14 days on the way without water or food. On one transport
   which arrived in November, 1942, I found evidence of
   cannibalism. The living persons had eaten the flesh from the
   dead bodies. Another transport arrived from Compiegne in
   France. Professor Limousin of Clermont-Ferrand, who was later
   my assistant, told me that there had been 2,000 persons on this
   transport when it started. There was food available but no
   water. Eight hundred died on the way and were thrown out. When
   it arrived after twelve days more than 500 persons were dead on
   the train. Of the remainder, most died shortly after arrival. I
   investigated this transport because the International Red Cross
   complained, and the S.S. men wanted a report that the deaths
   had been caused by fighting and rioting on the way. I dissected
   a number of bodies and found that they had died from
   suffocation and lack of water; it was mid-summer and 120 people
   had been packed into each car.
   
   In 1941 and 1942 we had in the camp what we called invalid
   transports. These were made up of people who were sick or for
   some reason incapable of working. We called them Himmelfahrt
   Commandos. About 100 or 120 were ordered each week to go to the
   shower baths. There, four people gave injections of phenol
   evipan, or benzine, which soon caused death. After 1943 these
   invalids were sent to other camps for liquidation. I know that
   they were killed because I saw the records, and they were
   marked with a cross and the date that they left, which was the
   way that deaths were ordinarily recorded. This was shown both
   on the card index of the Camp Dachau and the records in the
   town of Dachau. One thousand to two thousand went away every
   three months, so there were about five thousand sent to death
   in 1943, and the same in 1944. In April, 1945, a Jewish
   transport was loaded at Dachau and was left standing on the
   railroad siding. The station was destroyed by bombing, and they
   could not leave. So they were just left there to die of
   starvation. They were not allowed to get off. When the camp was
   liberated they were all dead.
   
   Many executions by gas or shooting or injections took place in
   the camp itself. The gas chamber was completed in 1944, and I
   was called by Dr. Rascher to examine the first victims. Of the
   eight or nine persons in the chamber there were three still
   alive, and the remainder appeared to be dead. Their eyes were
   red and their faces were swollen. Many

                                                        [Page 208]
   
   prisoners were later killed in this way. Afterwards they were
   removed to the crematorium, where I had to examine their teeth
   for gold. Teeth containing gold were extracted. Many prisoners
   who were sick were killed by injections while in hospital. Some
   prisoners killed in the hospital came through to the autopsy
   room with no name or number on the tag which was usually tied
   to their big toe. Instead the tag said: 'Do not dissect.'
   
   I performed autopsies on some of these and found that they were
   perfectly healthy, but had died from injections. Sometimes
   prisoners were killed only because they had dysentery or
   vomited, and gave the nurses too much trouble. Mental patients
   were liquidated by being led to the gas chamber and injected
   there or shot. Shooting was a common method of execution.
   Prisoners would be shot just outside the crematorium and
   carried in. I have seen people pushed into the ovens while they
   were still breathing and making sounds, although if they were
   too much alive they were usually hit on the head first.
   
   The principal executions about which I know from having
   examined the victims, or supervised such examinations, are as
   follows: In 1942 there were five thousand to six thousand
   Russians held in a separate camp inside Dachau. They were taken
   on foot to the Military Rifle Range near the camp in groups of
   five hundred or six hundred and shot. These groups left the
   camp about three times a week. At night we used to go out to
   bring the bodies back in carts and then examine them. In
   February, 1944, about 40 Russian students arrived from
   Moosburg. I knew a few of the boys in the hospital. I examined
   them after they were shot outside the crematorium. In
   September, 1944, a group of 94 high-ranking Russians were shot,
   including two military doctors who had been working with me in
   the hospital. I examined their bodies. In April, 1945, a number
   of prominent people who had been kept in the bunker were shot.
   They included two French generals, whose names I cannot
   remember, but I recognised them from their uniform. I examined
   them, after they were shot. In 1944 and 1945 a number of women
   were killed by hanging, shooting and injections. I examined
   them and found that in many cases they were pregnant. In 1945,
   just before the camp was liberated, all 'Nacht und Nebel'
   prisoners were executed. These were prisoners who were
   forbidden to have any contact with the outside world. They were
   kept in a special enclosure and were not allowed to send or
   receive any mail. There were 30 or 40, many of whom were sick.
   These were carried to the crematorium on stretchers. I examined
   them and found they had all been shot in the neck.
   
   From 1941 on the camp became more and more overcrowded. In 1943
   the hospital for prisoners was already overcrowded. In 1944 and
   in 1945 it was impossible to maintain any sort of sanitary
   condition. Rooms, which held three hundred or four hundred
   persons in 1942, were filled with one thousand in 1943, and in
   the first quarter of 1945 with two thousand or more. The rooms
   could not be cleaned because they were too crowded, and there
   was no cleaning material. Baths were available only once a
   month. Latrine facilities were completely inadequate. Medicine
   was almost non-existent. But I found, after the camp was
   liberated, that there was plenty of medicine in the S.S.
   hospital for all the camps, if it had been given to us for use.
   
   New arrivals at the camp were lined up out of doors for hours
   at a time. Sometimes they stood there from morning until night.
   It did not matter whether this was in the winter or in the
   summer. This occurred all through 1943, 1944 and the first
   quarter of 1945. I could see these formations from the window
   of the autopsy room. Many of the people who had to
   
                                                        [Page 209]
   
   stand in the cold in this way became ill from pneumonia and
   died. I had several acquaintances who were killed in this
   manner during 1944 and 1945. In October, 1944 ."

THE PRESIDENT: Too fast.

MR. DODD:

   "In October, 1944, a transport of Hungarians brought spotted
   fever into the camp, and an epidemic began. I examined many of
   the corpses from this transport and reported the situation to
   Dr. Hintermayer, but was forbidden, on penalty of being shot,
   to mention that there was an epidemic in the camp. He said that
   it was sabotage, and that I was trying to have the camp
   quarantined so that the prisoners would not have to work in the
   armaments industry. No preventive measures were taken at all.
   New healthy arrivals were put into blocks were an epidemic was
   already present. Infected persons were also put into these
   blocks. So the thirteenth block, for instance, died out
   completely, three times. Only at Christmas, when the epidemic
   spread into the S.S. camp, was a quarantine established.
   Nevertheless, transports continued to arrive.
   
   We had 200 to 300 new typhus cases and 100 deaths caused by
   typhus each day. In all, we had 28,000 cases and 15,000 deaths,
   In addition to those that died from the disease my autopsies
   showed that many deaths were caused solely by malnutrition.
   Such deaths occurred in all the years from 1941 to 1945. They
   were mostly Italians, Russians and Frenchmen. These people were
   just starved to death. At the time of death they weighed 50 to
   60 pounds. Autopsies showed their internal organs had often
   shrunk to one-third of their actual size.
   
   The facts stated above are true: This declaration is made by me
   voluntarily and without compulsion. After reading over the
   statement I have signed and executed it at Nuremberg, Germany,
   this 9th day of January, 1946.
   
   (Signed) Dr. Franz Blaha.
   
   Subscribed and sworn to before Second-Lieutenant Daniel F.
   Margolies."

DIRECT EXAMINATION

(Resumed.)

MR. DODD:

Q. Dr. Blaha, will you state whether or not visitors came to the
camp of Dachau while you were there?

A. Many visitors came to our camp, so that it many times seemed to
us that we were not confined in a camp but in an exhibition or a
zoo. At times almost every day there was a visit or an excursion
of military men, of political men from schools, from different
medical and other institutions, and also many members of the
Police, S.S. and the Armed Forces; also -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you pause so as to give the interpreter's
words time to come through; do you understand?

THE WITNESS: Yes. Also some State officials came to the camp.
Regular inspections were made month by month by Obergruppenfuehrer
Pohl; also by Prof. Gradel, Inspector of Experimental Stations,
Standartenfuehrer Dr. S.S. Reichsfuehrer, Lolling and others.

MR. DODD: The presiding Justice has suggested that you pause, and
it would be helpful if you paused in the making of your answers so
that the interpreters can complete their interpretation.

THE WITNESS: Yes.


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