The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05


THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defence counsel wish to ask any
questions?

(Cross-examination by DR. NELTE (Counsel for the defendant Keitel.)

Q. Witness, when were you taken prisoner?

A. I was taken prisoner on the 14 of June 1940.

Q. In which camp for prisoners of war were you put?

A. I was immediately sent to the Oflag, 11 D, at Grossborn
Westphalenhof in Pomerania.

                                                  [Page 246]


Q. Oflag?

A. Yes.

Q. What regulations were made known to you in the prisoner
of war camp regarding a possible attempt to escape?

A. We were warned that we would be shot at, and that we
should not try to escape.

Q. Do you think that this warning was in agreement with the
Geneva Convention?

A. This one certainly.

Q. You mentioned, if I heard correctly, the case of Robin
from Oflag II D. You said that there was an officer who dug
a tunnel in order to escape from the camp, and that as he
was the first to emerge from the tunnel, he was shot.

A. Yes. So I said.

Q. Were you with those officers who tried to escape?

A. I said before that this was related to me by Lieutenant
Ledoux who was still in Oflag II D when that happened.

Q. I only wanted to ascertain that this officer, Robin, met
his death whilst trying to escape.

A. Yes, but here I should like to mention one thing, namely,
all the prisoners of war who escaped knew that they risked
their lives. Every one attempting to escape, knew that he
risked a bullet, But it is one thing to be killed trying to
cross the barbed wire, for instance, and it is another thing
to be ambushed and murdered at the very moment when you are
helpless, when you are without arms and at the mercy of
anybody, as was the case with Lieutenant Robin, who was in a
low tunnel, flat on his stomach, crawling along, when he was
killed. This was no longer in accordance with international
rules.

Q. I see what you mean, and you may rest assured that I
respect every prisoner of war who tried to do his duty as a
patriot. In this case, however, which you did not witness, I
wanted to make the point that this first, courageous officer
who left the tunnel might not have answered when challenged
by the guards and was therefore shot. Though you have just
given a vivid description of the incident, I think this was
a product of your imagination because, according to your own
testimony, you did not see it yourself; is this correct?

A. No. There are not 36 different ways of getting out of a
tunnel. You lie flat on your stomach, you crawl, and if you
are killed before you get out of the tunnel, I call that
murder.

Q. And then you saw the officer -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte!

DR. NELTE: Your Honour?

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want argument in cross examination.
The witness has already stated that he was not there and did
not see it, and he has explained the facts.

DR. NELTE: Thank you.

Q. The incident in respect to Lt. Thomson is not quite clear
to me. In this case too, I believe you said you had no
direct knowledge, but were informed by a friend. Is his
correct?

A. I cannot but repeat what I said before. I related the
story of a French Lieutenant, Ledoux, who told me that he
was in the fortress of Graudezs together with Anthony
Thomson, Lt. in the RAF. This British officer escaped from
the fortress. He was recaptured on the airfield, taken back
to the fortress, put into the same cell as Lt. Ledoux, and
Ledoux saw him killed by a revolver shot in the back of the
neck. Ledoux gave me the name of the murderer. I think I
mentioned him, Sergeant-Major Osterreich. This is the story
told me by a witness.

                                                  [Page 247]
Q. Was Sergeant-Major Osterreich a guard at the camp, or to
which formation did he belong?A. I do not know.Q. Do you
know that you, as prisoner of war, had a right to
complain?A. Certainly; I know the Geneva Convention signed
by Germany in 1934.

Q. Knowing those regulations you also knew, did you not,
that you could complain to the camp commander? Did you avail
yourself of this opportunity?

A. I tried to do so, but without success.

Q. May I ask you for the name of the camp commander who
refused to hear you ?

A. I do not know the name, but I will tell you when I tried
to complain.

Q. Please do.

A. It happened when I was in the infamous Linzburg punitive
squad in the province of Hanover. This squad was detached
from Stalag 10C. In the morning following the night I have
just described when, after an unsuccessful attempt at
escape, we were beaten for three hours running, some of us
were kept in the barracks. We then saw the immediate
superiors of the commander of the squad; first, an
Oberleutnant, whose name I do not know, saw that we were
bruised, particularly on our heads, and he considered this
to be all right. In the afternoon we went to work. When we
returned at 7 o'clock we were visited by a major, a very
distinguished looking man, who also found that, as we had
tried to escape, it was quite in order that we be punished.
As to our complaint, it did not get any further.

Q. Did you know that the German Government had made an
agreement with the Vichy Government regarding prisoners of
war?

A. Yes, I have heard of that, but they did not inspect
squads of this kind.

Q. You mean to say that only the camps were inspected but
not the labour squads?

A. There were inspections of the labour squads but not of
the punitive squads. That is the difference.

Q. You were not always in a punitive squad, were you?

A. No.

Q. When were you put in a punitive squad?

A. In April 1941, for the first time. It was a squad to
which only officer cadets and priests were sent, without any
obvious reasons. This was the Linzburg punitive squad, which
did not receive any visits. At Ravaruska we received the
visit of two Swiss doctors, - I think it was in September
1942.

Q. In September 1942?

A. Yes, in September 1942.

Q. Did you complain to the Swiss doctors?

A. Not I personally, but our spokesman could talk to them.

Q. And were there any results?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Do you not think that a complaint made through the camp
commander would have been likewise successful, if you had
wished to resort to it?

A. We were not on very friendly terms with the German staff
at Ravaruska.

Q. I did not quite understand you.

A. I said we were not on friendly terms with the German
commander of the Ravaruska camp.

Q. It is not a question of good terms, but of a complaint
which could be made in an official manner. Do you not think
so?

When did you leave Ravaruska?

A. At the end of October 1942.

                                                  [Page 248]

Q. If I remember rightly, you mentioned the number of
victims counted or observed by you, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. How many victims were there?'

A-. It was a figure given to me by Dr. Lievin, a French
doctor at Ravaruska. There were, as I said, about 60 deaths
in the camp itself, to which approximately 100 must be
added, who disappeared.

Q. The translation is not coming through.

THE PRESIDENT: Would you be kind enough to repeat the last
few statements about the number of victims?

A. Yes. I said that there were about 60 deaths in the
Ravaruska camp during the time I was there.

Q. Are you speaking of French victims or in general?

A. When I was at Ravaruska there were only Frenchmen there,
a few Poles and a few Belgians.

Q. I am putting this question because the report dated 14
June, 1945, states that the victims were 14 Frenchmen and
because we are now speaking of August and September: and in
consequence we find that the number is a very high one for
the period.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other German counsel want to put any
questions to this witness?

(No response)

THE PRESIDENT M. Dubost?

M. DUBOST: I have finished with this witness, Mr. President.
If the Tribunal will permit me, I will now call another
witness, the last one.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, M. Dubost. The witness can
retire.

Could you tell the Tribunal whether the witness you are
about to call is going to give us any evidence of a
different nature from the evidence which has already been
given? You will remember that we have in the French
document, of which we shall take judicial notice - a very
large French document - I forget the number - 321, I believe
it is - 321 - we have a very large volume of evidence on the
conditions in concentration camps. Is the witness you are
going to call going to prove anything fresh?

M. DUB0ST: The witness whom we are going to call is to
testify to a certain number of experiments which he
witnessed. He has even submitted certain documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Are these experiments about which the witness
is going to speak all recorded in these, in the book 321?

M. DUBOST: They are referred to, but not reported in detail.
Moreover, in view of the importance which, in the French
presentation concerning the camps, is being attached to
statements of witnesses, I shall curtail considerably the
documentary evidence after these witnesses have been heard.
On the other hand, Dr. Balachowsky...

THE PRESIDENT: You may call the witness, but try not to let
him be too long.

M. DUBOST: I shall do my best, Mr. President.

(Witness takes the stand)

THE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

THE WITNESS: Alfred Balachowsky.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you French?

THE WITNESS: French.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you take this oath? Do you swear to
speak without hate or fear, to say the truth, all the truth,
only the truth? Raise your right hand and swear.

THE WITNESS: I swear.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit if you wish.

                                                  [Page 249]

EXAMINATION BY M. DUBOST:

Q. Your name is Balachowsky, Alfred B-a-l-a-c-h-o-w-s-k-y?

A. That is correct.

Q. You are head of the Pasteur Institute in Paris?

A. That is correct.

Q. Your residence is Viroflay? You were born 15 August 1909
at Korotcha in Russia?

A. That is correct.

Q. You are French?

A. Yes.

Q. By birth?

A. Russian by birth, French by naturalisation.

Q. When were you naturalised?

A. 1932.

Q. Were you deported on 16 January 1944 after being arrested
on 2 July 1943, and after six months in prison first at
Frenes then at Compiegne? Were you then transferred to the
Dora camp?

A. That is correct.

Q. Can you rapidly tell us what you know about the Dora
camp?

A. The Dora camp is situated five kilometres north of the
town of Nordhausen, in southern Germany. This camp was
considered by the Germans as a secret detachment, which
prisoners who were kept there, could never leave.

This secret detachment had as its task the manufacture of V-
1's and V-2's, the reprisal weapons which the Germans
launched on England. That is why Dora was a secret
detachment. This camp was divided into two parts: one outer
part, which included one third of the total number of
persons in the camp, and the remaining two-thirds were
concentrated in the underground factory. Dora, then, was an
underground factory for the manufacture of V- 1's and V-2's.
I arrived at Dora on the 10 February 1944, coming from
Buchenwald.

Q. Please do not speak so fast. You arrived at Dora from
Buchenwald on ....?

A . ... on the 10 February 1944 - that is, at a time when
life in the Dora camp was particularly hard.

On the 10 February we were loaded, 76 men on a large German
lorry. We were forced to crouch down, four SS guards
occupying the seats at the front of the lorry. As we could
not all crouch down being too many, whenever a man raised
his head, he got a blow with a rifle butt, so that in the
course of our 10 hours' journey several people were injured.

After our arrival at Dora, we spent a whole day and night
without food, in the cold, in the snow, waiting for all the
formalities of registration in the camp, completing forms,
with surnames, first names, etc.

In comparison with Buchenwald, Dora was a considerable
change as the management of the camp Dora was entrusted to a
special category of prisoners who were criminals. These
criminals were our block leaders, served out our soup,
looked after us. Whereas the political prisoners wore red
triangular badges, the criminals were marked by green
triangular badges stamped with a black S. We called them the
"S" men (Sicherheitsverband)., They were people convicted of
crimes by German courts before the war, who, instead of
being sent home after having served their terms, were kept
for life in concentration camps to supervise the other
prisoners. Needless to say these criminals who supervised us
...

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast; please slow down.

A. (continuing): These criminals with the green triangles
were asocial elements; sometimes they had served 5, 10, even
15 years in prison, and after

                                                  [Page 250]


ward, five or ten years in concentration camps. These social
outcasts no longer had any hope of ever getting out of the
concentration camps. These criminals, however, thanks to the
support and Cupertino they were offered by the SS management
of the camp, now had the chance of their lives. This meant
stealing from and robbing the other prisoners, and obtaining
from them the maximum output as demanded by the SS. They
beat us from morning till night. We got up at 4 o'clock in
the morning and had to be ready within five minutes in the
underground dormitories where we were crammed, without
ventilation, in foul air in blocks about as large as this
room, into which 3,000 or 3,500 internees were crowded.
There were five tiers of bunks with rotting straw
mattresses. Fresh ones were never issued. We were given five
minutes in which to get up, so we went to bed completely
dressed. We were hardly able to sleep, for there was a
continuous coming and going and all sorts of thefts took
place among the prisoners. Furthermore, it was impossible to
sleep because we were covered with lice; the whole Dora camp
swarmed with vermin. It was virtually impossible to get rid
of the lice. In five minutes we had to be in line in the
tunnel and ready to march to a given place.


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