The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/13

Q. In all these investigations, witness, were you in danger
of your life?

A. It was clear that the discovery of these horrible crimes
was extremely unpleasant to those responsible for them. I
knew that a human life meant nothing to these people and
that they were ready for anything. As proof, I may cite the
following: After I had arrested Grabner, the head of the
political section in Auschwitz, and the investigating
commission -

THE PRESIDENT: You are not forgetting that you said you were
going to take forty-five minutes with this witness, are you,
Dr. Pelckmann?

DR. PELCKMANN: No, your Lordship, I have not forgotten, and
I regret exceedingly that it is taking longer than I
expected, but I believe that I owe the Tribunal this
explanation of these facts.

THE PRESIDENT: It seems of very little importance whether
this man was in danger of his life or not.

DR. PELCKMANN: From the point of view of the defence, your
Lordship, I am of a different opinion, since, for the
conditions and the possibilities of opposing this system and
for (1) the decision of the Tribunal of 13th March; and (2)
compulsion and order, it is of decisive importance.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Pelckmann. The Tribunal does not
think it is important.

THE WITNESS: May I add one more sentence on that subject:
The investigating commission of the Reich Criminal Police
Office at Auschwitz was quartered in barracks, and after it
worked with success for some time, unknown persons at night
destroyed the whole barracks by fire with all the documents.
The investigations in Auschwitz were interrupted and made
difficult for some time. You may see from that how ruthless
was the opposition to us. I, myself, received enough
warnings and threats, but whether I was actually in danger
of my life I cannot say.


Q. Did the directing personnel of the concentration camp at
Auschwitz in way justify the assumption that they knew of
these exterminations? I emphasize again - if I understood
you correctly - the concentration camp Auschwitz, wit its
many labour camps, had nothing to do with and was separate
from the extermination camp?

A. As I have already said, Hoess was simultaneously
commandant of Auschwitz and Monowitz, he is to be considered
the directing personnel chief apart from the Commander of
the Monowitz troops. I dealt only with these two and these
two knew about it.

Q. Did you speak to the doctor of the concentration camp

A. Yes. When I arrived, the doctor showed me the mortality
figures at the time he took over. He pointed out with
enthusiasm how since his transfer to

                                                  [Page 395]

Auschwitz these huge figures had gone down precipitately
through extensive hygienic measures and changes. With that
he came to Grabner. Grabner had wanted him to kill pregnant
Polish women. The doctor had refused, since it was
irreconcilable with his professional duties. Then Grabner
had said that he did not realize the importance of his,
Grabner's, tasks. The doctor did not give in, and a quarrel
arose which was carried on before the commandant, and
neither Hoess not [sic] Grawitz said anything. Thus the
doctor at the time when I met him by accident was in a
troubled state of mind and said, "What shall I do?" I said,
"What you did, absolute refusal, is quite right and tomorrow
I will arrest Grabner."

THE PRESIDENT: What does this have to do with the SS unless
the doctor was in the SS? Perhaps he was.

DR. PELCKMANN: It is well known that the doctors were SS
doctors, and the witness is describing how an SS doctor in
this concentration camp Auschwitz opposed the suggestion of
Grabner. He is describing that as a typical case.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, the Tribunal thinks you have
been quite long enough over this witness. You are going into
matters too much in detail.


Q. You said previously that you had reported to the various
agencies and named three of them, I believe. Please describe
how Nebe reacted. What was Breithaupt's attitude? What did
Kaltenbrunner and Muller say? What was Pohl's attitude, and
how did the Reich Doctor Grawitz react?

A. First I reported to my immediate superior, SS
Gruppenfuehrer Nebe, as chief of the RKPA. Nebe was an
unexcitable man, but I could see that his hair literally
stood on end when I made my report. He was absolutely
silent. Then he said that I must immediately report this
matter to Kaltenbrunner. The Chief of the Hauptamt SS
Courts, Obergruppenfuehrer Breithaupt, also became very much
excited. He said that he would immediately go to see Himmler
and report this to him and attempt to have a personal
interview with Himmler arranged for me. The Reich doctor SS
did not know what to say. Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, however,
took another attitude. Previously, or about the same time, I
had had the commandant of the Concentration Camp
Herzogenbusch arrested; he had caused the death of ten women
through punishment he meted out. When I reported this to
Pohl, he said this was a "bagatelle." He said, "What do the
lives of ten women matter in view of the thousands of German
women dying every night in the air raids?"

Q. Please be more brief on the others.

A. After I had already reported to Obergruppenfuehrer
Kaltenbrunner about the actual crimes - the killings which I
discovered, were about six months later - a conversation
took place in the presence of Nebe, Kaltenbrunner and
Muller. This discussion was extraordinarily one-sided.
Kaltenbrunner and Nebe were absolutely silent, while Muller,
white with rage, fulminated against me and did not give me a
chance to speak. When I looked at him calmly, he suddenly
jumped up and rushed out of the room and left me alone,
while the other two turned away from me. In the afternoon I
went to see Muller again and personally told him my point of
view once more, but Muller was still absolutely against it.

DR. PELCKMANN: Very well, did you -

THE PRESIDENT: What was the date of this conversation with

THE WITNESS: That was immediately after the charge was
raised against Grabner. I assume in July or August, 1944.

Q. Did you report these things to other circles of the SS?

A. No. I wanted to inform and win over those people to my
point of view, those who really had something to say.
Nothing else counted. In addition, I was bound by Basic
Order No. 1, concerning secrecy on State affairs, and could

                                                  [Page 396]

approach the chief of the main offices personally. Any
mistake I made in contacting other offices would have had
serious results for me, would have given my enemies a
pretext and thus have delayed the investigation.

THE PRESIDENT: Doctor Pelckmann, he said he did not report
it. Surely that is sufficient. We do not want to know more
about it. He did not report. We are not trying the witness.

DR. PELCKMANN: Pardon, I believe it is a mistake, if I
understood your Lordship correctly. He said he did report.

THE PRESIDENT: He said he made no other report, as I
understood it, except this that he has spoken of.

Q. Witness, will you comment on that?

A. That is true. Apart from the chief of the main office of
the SS, no one else was informed.

Q. Did you not consider it your duty to inform the public or
to clear your conscience somehow, to cry "murder"?

A. I would have needed access to technical means for that -
the Press and radio - which I did not have. If I had
screamed it from the roof-tops, no one would have believed
me, because this system was beyond human imagination. I
would have been locked up as insane.

Q. The camp at Dachau was here described as an extermination
camp by the prosecution and by certain witnesses. Is that

A. I believe that from my investigation from May to July,
1944, I knew the concentration camp Dachau rather well. I
must say that I had the opposite impression. The
concentration camp Dachau was always considered a very good
camp, a rest camp, among the prisoners, and I actually did
gain this impression.

Q. Did you see the internal arrangements, the hospital, and
so forth?

A. I examined all these facilities carefully, and I must say
the hospital was in excellent order. I went through all the
wards. There was no noticeable overcrowding, and remarkably
enough the number of medical instruments which were at the
service of the prisoners was astonishing. Prisoners with
special professional abilities were there, too.

Q. Very well. You want to say that conditions were good.
Then you contradict the testimony of the witness Doctor
Blaha, which was made the subject of evidence here. Do you
know his testimony?

A. I read the testimony of Doctor Blaha in the Press, and
here I had the opportunity to look through the record of the
trial. I must say that this testimony amazes me. I am of the
opinion that Blaha, from his own knowledge, cannot make such
statements. It is not true that prisoners in a concentration
camp can move about freely and have access to the different
sections and installations.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks he can say that he
disagrees with the evidence of Blaha, but not that Blaha was
not telling the truth. He disagrees, he said it. We think
you might get on. How much more time do you anticipate that
you will take.

DR. PELCKMANN: Five minutes, your Lordship.

Q. You were just about to say, witness, why you did not
agree with the testimony of Blaha?

THE PRESIDENT: He has given his own evidence about the
matter, and he says he is in contradiction with Blaha. We do
not want further details about it.

DR. PELCKMANN: Mr. President, if I understood correctly, it
is for the witness to give credible testimony. If he does
not say that to such and such points of the testimony of
Blaha he has such and such an objection, the prosecution can

                                                  [Page 397]

he did not comment on it. That is my point. Please instruct
me, your Lordship, if I am mistaken.

THE PRESIDENT: He has given his account of the camp at
Dachau. The Tribunal has before it the evidence and
testimony of Blaha. The Tribunal can see for itself if the
evidence is inconsistent. That is sufficient.

DR. PELCKMANN: I attempted to give the reasons, but if the
Tribunal does not wish to go into it further, I will
withdraw the question.

Q. I will go on to the next question which is of importance
to your credibility. Did you give this testimony once before
as you have given it here?

A. Yes. At the time of the collapse I was chief justice in
Breslau. When I later came to Germany, I heard the CIC was
looking for me on account of my knowledge about
concentration camps. I reported to the CIC Headquarters
Mannheim-Seckenheim, 7th Army, and said I was ready to help
to clear up the question of the crimes. I gave my testimony
as I have attempted to do today. I went to the CIC
Headquarters, Oberursel, and after I had given my testimony
I was put in a bunker in Dachau, together with the accused
people I had previously arrested myself.

Q. Very well. Do you know the document "SS Dachau" which I
submitted to the Tribunal yesterday, and which I should like
to designate as Exhibit SS 4? Do you know this document?
Answer yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. On Page 46, there is the testimony of a Mrs. E. H. Was
this testimony made before you as the investigating judge?

A. Yes, this was a Mrs. Eleanore Hodis, a prisoner in
Auschwitz; I questioned her under oath.

Q. And did you examine the document and make certain this
was the evidence which the woman gave? Yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. In the autumn of 1944.

Q. The testimony is against Hoess?

A. Yes.

Q. Were proceedings then instituted against Hoess?

A. Yes. The testimony was submitted to Hoess in the

Q. The testimony concerns conditions in Auschwitz. Is that

A. Yes.

Q. It is not true that it concerns the situation in Dachau?

A. No.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will take a recess.

(A recess was taken).

DR. MERKEL: Mr. President, I should like to be permitted to
put three brief questions to this witness, concerning non-
participation and ignorance on the part of the Gestapo as
far as the mass extermination is concerned.



Q. Witness, if I understood you correctly, the crimes of
Kriminalkommissar Wirth in Lublin were discovered because of
a report of the Security Police in Lublin.

A. Yes.

Q. So, did the Security Police in Lublin participate in
these crimes in any way?

A. No. As I saw it that was not the case.

Q. The witness Best stated the camps at Treblinka and
Maidanek were under the supervision of the Security Police.
Is that correct?

A. I know nothing about that. Wirth explained that he had
four extermination camps. I believe the name Treblinka was
mentioned in that connection.

                                                  [Page 398]

Q. According to your conviction, this camp as well was under
A. I assumed that.

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