The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that you could deal with
the question of treatment in concentration camps rather more
generally now, after we have heard the details from the
witnesses whom you have already called.

M. DUBOST: Is the Tribunal willing to hear this witness?


Q. What is your name?

A. Jean Frederic Veith.

Q. Will you repeat this oath?

I swear to speak without hate or fear,

To say the truth, all the truth, and only the truth.

(The witness repeated the oath after the President)

THE PRESIDENT: Raise your right hand.

THE WITNESS: swear it.

THE PRESIDENT: Would you like to sit down?

THE WITNESS: Thank you.


Will you please spell your name and surname?

A. Jean Frederic Veith. I was born on 28 April 1903 in

Q. You are of French nationality?

A. I am of French nationality, born of French parents.

Q. In which camp were you interned?

A. At Mauthausen; from the 22 April 1943 until the 22 April

Q. You knew about the work carried out in the factories
supplying material to the Luftwaffe. Who controlled these

                                                  [Page 202]

A. I was in the "Arbeitseinsatz" at Mauthausen as from June
1943, and I was therefore well acquainted with all questions
dealing with work.

Q. Who controlled the factories working for the Luftwaffe?

A. There were outside camps at Mauthausen where workers were
employed by Heinkel, Messerschmidt, Alfa-Vienne and the
Saurer-Werke, and there was, moreover, the construction work
on the Leibl Pass Tunnel by Alpine Montana.

Q. Who controlled this work, supervisors or engineers?

A. There was only an SS inspection. The work itself was
controlled by the engineers and the firms themselves.

Did these engineers belong to the Luftwaffe?

A. On certain days I saw Luftwaffe officers who came to
visit the Messerschmidt workshops in the quarry.

Q. Were they able to see for themselves the conditions under
which the prisoners lived?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Did you see any high-ranking fascist officials visiting
the camp?

A. I saw a great many high-ranking officials, among them
Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Pohl, Maurer, the Chief of the
Labour Office D II, of the Reich, and many other visitors
whose names I do not know.

Who told you that Kaltenbrunner had come?

A. Our offices faced the parade ground overlooking the
Kommandantur we therefore saw the high-ranking officials
arriving, and the SS men themselves would tell us: "There
goes so and so."

Q. Could the civilian population know, and did it know of
the plight of the internees?

A. Yes, the population could know, since at Mauthausen there
was a road near the quarry and those who passed by that road
could see all that was happening. Moreover, the internees
worked in the factories. They were separated from the other
workers, but they had certain contacts with them and it was
quite easy for the other workers to realise their plight.

Q. Can you tell us what you know about a journey to an
unknown castle, of a bus carrying prisoners who were never
seen again?

A. At one time a method for the elimination of sick persons
by injections was adopted at Mauthausen. It was particularly
used by Dr. Krebsbach, nicknamed Dr. Spritzbach by the
prisoners, since it was he who had inaugurated the system of
injections. There came a time when the injections were
discontinued and then persons who were too sick or too weak
were sent to a castle which, we learned later, was called
Harthein, but was officially known as "Genesungslager"
(convalescent camp); of those who went there, none ever
returned. We received the death certificates directly from
the political section of the camp; these certificates were
secret. Everybody who went to Harthein died. The number of
dead amounted to about 5,000.

Q. Did you see prisoners of war arrive at Mauthausen Camp?

A. Certainly I saw prisoners of war. Their arrival at
Mauthausen Camp took place, first of all, in front of the
political section. Since I was working at the Hollerith I
could watch the arrivals, for the offices looked on to the
parade ground in front of the political section where the
convoys arrived. The convoys, were immediately sorted out.
One part was sent to the camp for registration and very
often some of the uniformed prisoners were set aside; these
had already been subjected to special violence in the
political section, were handed straight over to the prison
guards and then sent to the prisons, and never heard of
again. They were not registered in the camp. The only
registration was, made in the political section by Muller
who was in charge of these prisoners.

Q. They were prisoners of war?

A. They were prisoners of war, they were very often in

                                                  [Page 203]

THE PRESIDENT: Do not go so fast, please.

A. (continuing): They were generally men in uniform.


Q. Of what nationality?

A. Mostly Russians and Poles.

Q. They were brought to your camp to be killed there?

A. They were brought to our camp for "action K."

Q. What do you know about action K and how do you know it?

A. My knowledge of "action K" is due to the fact that I was
head of the Hollerith service in Mauthausen, and
consequently received all the transfer forms from the
various camps. And when prisoners were erroneously
transferred to us as ordinary prisoners, we would put on the
transfer form which we had to send to the Central Office in
Berlin - or rather, we would not put any number at all, as
we were unable to give any. The "Political Section" gave us
no indications at all and even destroyed the list of names
if, by chance, it ever reached us.

In conversations with my comrades of the "Political Section"
I discovered that this "action K" was originally applied to
prisoners of war who had been captured while attempting to
escape. Later this action was extended further still, but
always to soldiers and especially to officers who had
succeeded in escaping, but who had been recaptured in
countries under German control.

Moreover, any person engaged in activities which might be
interpreted as not corresponding to the wishes of the
fascist chiefs could also be subjected to "action K." These
prisoners arrived at Mauthausen and disappeared, i.e., they
were taken to the prison, where one part would be executed
on the spot and another sent to the annexe of the prison -
to the famous Block 20 of Mauthausen.

Q. You definitely state that these were prisoners of war?

A. Yes, they were prisoners of war, or most of them, at any

Q. Do you know of an execution of officers, prisoners of
war, who had been brought to the camp at Mauthausen?

A. I cannot give you any names, but there were some.

Q. Did you witness the execution of Allied officers who were
murdered within 48 hours of their arrival in camp?

A. I saw the arrival of the convoy of the 6th September. I
believe that is the one you are thinking of; I saw the
arrival of this convoy and the very same afternoon these 47
went down to the quarry dressed in nothing but their shirts
and drawers. Shortly after we heard the sound of machine
gunfire. I then left the office and passed at the back,
pretending I was carrying documents to another office, and
with my own eyes I saw these unfortunate people shot down.
19 were executed on the very same afternoon and the
remainder on the following morning; later on all the death
certificates were marked: "Killed while attempting to

(A recess was taken)

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: If the Court please, it is desired to
announce that the defendant Kaltenbrunner will be absent
from this afternoon's session on account of illness.

THE PRESIDENT: You may go on, M. Dubost.

M. DUBOST: We are going to complete hearing of the witness
Veith, to whom, however, I have only one more question to

THE PRESIDENT: Have him brought in.

(Whereupon the witness again took the stand and was
questioned further by M. Dubost as follows):

Q. You continue, to testify under the oath that you already
made this morn-

                                                  [Page 204]

ing. Will you give some additional information concerning
the execution of the 47 Allied Officers whom you saw shot
within 48 hours at camp Mauthausen where they had been

A. Those officers, those parachutists, were shot in
accordance with the usual system used whenever prisoners had
to be done away with. That is to say, they were forced to
work to excess, to carry heavy stones. Then they were
beaten, until they took heavier ones; and so on and so
forth, until, finally driven to extremity, they turned
towards the barbed wire. If they did not do it of their own
accord, they were pushed there, or they were beaten until
they did so, and the moment they approached it and were
perhaps about one metre away from it, they were mown down by
machine guns fired by the SS patrols in the miradors. This
was the usual system for the "killing for attempted escape"
as they afterwards called it.

These 47 men were killed on the afternoon of the 6th and
morning of the 7th of September.

Q. How did you know their names?

A. Their names came to me with the official list, because
they had all been entered in the camp registers and I had to
report to Berlin all the changes in the actual strength of
the Hollerith Section. I saw all the rosters of the dead and
of the new arrivals.

Q. Did you communicate this list to an official authority?

A. This list was taken by the American official authorities
when I was at Mauthausen. I immediately went back to
Mauthausen after my liberation, because I knew where the
documents were, and the American authorities then had all
the lists which we were able to find.

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, I have no further questions to ask
the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the British prosecutor want to ask any


THE PRESIDENT: Does the United States prosecutor?


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

DR. BABEL (defence counsel for SS and SD): Mr. President, I
was in the Dachau camp on Saturday and at the Augsburg-
Gottingen camp yesterday. I found out various things there
which now enable me to question individual witnesses. I
could not do this before as I was not acquainted with local
conditions. I should like to put one question. When the
witness was questioned this morning ...

THE PRESIDENT: Will you try to go a little more slowly?

DR. BABEL : Yes. I was unable to attend here this morning on
account of a conference to which I was called by General
Mitchell. Consequently I did not conduct the cross-
examination of the witness this morning. I have only one
question to put to the witness now - I should like to ask if
I may cross-examine the witness further later, or if it is
better to reserve the question?

THE PRESIDENT: You can cross-examine this witness now, but
the Tribunal is informed that you left General Mitchell at
15 minutes past ten.

DR. BABEL : In consequence of the conference I had to send a
telegram and dispatch some other pressing business so that
it was impossible for me to attend the session.

THE PRESIDENT: You can certainly cross-examine the witness

DR. BABEL : I had only one more question in the meantime,

(Cross-examination by Dr. Babel)

Q. The witness stated that the officers in question were
driven toward the wire fence. By whom were they so driven?

                                                  [Page 205]

A. They were driven to the barbed wire by the SS guards who
accompanied them, and the entire Mauthausen staff was
present. They were beaten as well by the SS and by one or
two "green" prisoners, who were with them and who were the
"Kapo." In the camps these green prisoners were often worse
than the SS themselves.

Q. In the Dachau camp, inside the camp itself, within the
wire enclosure, there were almost no SS guards, and that was
probably also the case in Mauthausen?

A. Inside the camp there was only a certain number of SS,
but they changed, and none of those who belonged to the
troops guarding the camp could fail to be aware of what went
on in it, as even if they did not enter the camp, they
watched it from the miradors or from outside, and they saw
absolutely everything.

Q. Were the guards who shot at the prisoners inside or
outside the wire enclosure?

A. They were in the miradors in the same line as the barbed

Q. Could they see from there that the officers were driven
to the barbed wire by anyone by means of blows?

A. They could see it so well that once or twice some of the
guards refused to shoot, saying that it was not an attempt
to escape and they would not shoot. They were immediately
relieved of their posts, and disappeared.

Q. Did you see that yourself?

A. I did not see it myself, but I heard about it; it was
told me by my Kommandofuehrer among others, who said:
"There is a watchguard who refused to shoot."

Q. Who was this Kommandofuehrer? The chief of the group?

A. The Kommandofuehrer was Wieleman. I do not remember his
rank. He was not Unterscharfuehrer, but the rank immediately
below Unterscharfuehrer and he was in charge of the
Hollerith section in Mauthausen.

DR. BABEL: I have no more questions to ask just now. I
shall, however, make application to call the witness again,
and I shall then take the opportunity to ask the rest ... to
put such further questions to him as I consider necessary
and to retain him for this purpose, here, in Nuremberg. I am
not in a position to cross-examine the witness this
afternoon, as I did not bear his statements this morning,
and I would request that the witness ...

THE PRESIDENT: You ought to have been here. If you were
released from an interview with General Mitchell at 10.15,
there seems to the Tribunal - to me at any rate - to be no
reason why you should not have been here whilst this witness
was being examined.

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