The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/12/10

         Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Supplement B
  Widespread Knowledge of Conditions in Concentration Camps
                              
     Excerpts from Testimony of Oswald Pohl, taken at
     Nurnberg, Germany, 13 June 1946, 1400-1600, by Lt.
     Col. Smith W. Brookhart, Jr., IGD. Also present:
     Richard Sonnenfeldt, Interpreter; Rose W. Cook,
     Reporter.
     
Q. Kaltenbrunner has told the Tribunal that there were only
a handful of people in the WVHA who had any control and knew
anything about concentration camps. These are his exact
words as they appear at page 7617 of the English transcript
of the trial:

                                                 [Page 1604]
                                                            
"A. there were just a few people in the WVHA who knew how
things really were in concentration camps.

"Q. Now as far as my question is concerned, you were
speaking about a handful of men who did not belong to this
group?

"A. No, I did not. This handful was Himmler, Pohl, Gluecks,
and Mueller and the camp commanders."

A. Well, that is complete nonsense. I described to you how
these were handled in the WHVA. As for instance, in the case
of the use of textiles and turning-in of valuables, from
Gluecks and Loerner right on down to the last little clerk
they all must have known what went on in the concentration
camps, and it is complete nonsense for him to speak of just
a handful of men; and if it was like that in my department,
naturally, it was exactly the same in his. Just to
illustrate to you what I mean, when I went around to the
different camps in March as the representative of Himmler, I
came to Bergen-Belsen and found terrible conditions there.
An epidemic of typhus had broken out, and there were
mountains of dead people all over the camp, and I tried to
institute emergency measures in order to stop the epidemic,
and although I really couldn't do that, I told the  Camp
Commandant, "Don't let anybody else come to this camp." then
there were seven or eight thousand Jews there, and I wanted
them to be sent to Theresienstadt to get them out of there,
and I dispatched a telegram at once to the RSHA, asking them
to have these Jews transferred. Later when I got to Berlin I
got on the telephone and I remember I called there three or
four times every day, and I don't remember any more whether
it was Mueller or Eichmann that I talked to in order to have
these people moved. That really shows that I, for instance,
had no authority to move people and that this was a matter
for the RSHA. Now these things happened and they are facts
and there is no use to deny them or lie about them. They
just are there and there is nothing you can do about that.

Q. All right, why didn't you tell us about this before when
I asked you what conditions you found when you were making
your trips in early March, and when you denied finding any
such conditions?  I asked you about nine camps you told us
you visited, and you said you didn't observe anything. What
did you see at the other camps, dead people also?

A. Well it is not that I tried to hide this from you, but I
didn't think you asked me about it. Well, in Bergen-Belsen,
you couldn't help noticing it, it was very evident, and if I
didn't tell you about it, it is because I thought you didn't
ask me about it, or maybe I

                                                 [Page 1605]
                                                            
didn't understand it. I have no interest in not telling you
everything I know. It may be I forgot it for the moment, but
I will gladly admit it. The only other things I remember
about this trip were in Mauthausen. When I arrived there, I
saw many sick people there and many of them limping around
and I asked Ziereis what medical facilities he had in the
camp because these people were not very well cared for.


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