The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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(SEVERINA SHMAGLEVSKAIA took the witness stand).

Q. Will you first of all tell me your name?

A. Severina Shmaglevskaia.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me: I hereby swear before
God the Almighty, that I will speak before the Tribunal
nothing but the truth, concealing nothing that is known to
me, so help me God, Amen.

(The witness repeated the oath.)


Q. Tell me, witness, were you an internee of Oswiecim Camp?

A. Yes.

Q. During what period of time were you in the camp of

A. From 7th October, 1942, to January, 1945.

Q. Have you any proof that you were internee of this camp?

A. I have here the number which was tattooed on my hand.

Q. That is what the Oswiecim inmates called the "visiting

A. Yes.

Q. Tell me, please, witness, were you an eye-witness of
German SS men's attitude towards children?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you please tell the Tribunal about this?

A. I could tell about the children who were born in the
concentration camp, about the children who were brought to
the concentration camp with the Jewish transports and who
were taken directly to the crematoria, as well as about
those children who were brought to concentration camps and
there interned. Already in December, 1942, when I went to
work about ten kilometres from Birkenau....

Q. Excuse me! May I interrupt you? Then, you were in the
Birkenau section of the camp?

A. Yes, I was in the camp Birkenau, which is a part of the
Oswiecim Camp which was called "Oswiecim No. 2".

Q. Please go on.

A. I noticed then a woman in the last month of pregnancy. It
was obvious

                                                   [Page 13]

from her appearance. This woman, together with the others,
had to walk ten kilometres to the place of work and there
she toiled the whole day, spade in hand, digging trenches.
She was already ill and she asked the German superintendent,
a civilian, for permission to rest. He refused, laughed at
her and, together with another SS man, started beating her.
He inspected her work very strictly. Such was the situation
of all the women who were pregnant, and only during the very
last minutes were they permitted to stay away from work. The
newly-born children, if Jewish, were immediately put to

Q. Pardon me, witness, what do you mean by "were immediately
put to death"? When was it?

A. They were immediately taken away from their mothers.

Q. When the transport arrived?

A. No, I am speaking of the children who were born in the
concentration camp. A few minutes after delivery, the child
was, taken from the mother, who never saw it again. After a
few days, the mother had to return to work. In 1942, there
were no special blocks in the camp for the children. At the
beginning of 1943, when they started to tattoo the
internees, the children born in the concentration camp were
also branded. The number was tattooed on their legs.

Q. Why on the leg?

A. Because the child is very small and there was not enough
room on their tiny arms for the number, which contained five
digits. The children did not have special numbers, but bore
the same numbers as the grown-ups, that is to say, they were
given consecutive numbers.

The children were placed in a special block and every few
weeks, sometimes months, they were taken away from the camp.

Q. Where?

A. We were never able to find out where these children were
taken. They were taken away regularly all the time this camp
existed; that is to say, in 1943 and 1944. The last convoy
of children left the camp in January, 1945. These were not
only Polish children, because, as you know, in Birkenau
there were women from all over Europe. Even to-day we do not
know whether these children are alive.

I should like, in the name of all the women of Europe who
became mothers in concentration camps, to ask the Germans to-
day: "Where are these children?"

Q. Tell, me, witness, did you yourself see the children
being taken to gas chambers?

A. I worked very close to the railway which led to the
crematorium. Sometimes in the morning I passed near the
building the Germans used as a latrine, and from there I
could secretly watch the transport. I saw many children
among the Jews brought to the concentration camp. Sometimes
a family had several children. The Tribunal is probably
aware of the fact that in front of the crematorium they were
all sorted out.

Q. Selection was made by the doctors?

A. Not always by doctors, sometimes by SS men.

Q. And doctors with them?

A. Yes, sometimes by doctors, too. During the sorting, the
youngest and the healthiest Jews in very small numbers
entered the camp. Women carrying children in their arms or
wheeling them in perambulators, or who had children, were
sent to the crematorium together with their children. The
children were separated from their parents in front of the
crematorium and were led separately into the gas chambers.

At that time when the greatest number of Jews were
exterminated in the gas chambers, an order was issued that
the children were to be thrown into the ovens or the ditches
without previous asphyxiation.

Q. How should we understand that? Were they thrown into the
ovens alive or were they killed by other means before they
were burned?

                                                   [Page 14]

A. The children were thrown in alive. Their cries could be
heard all over the camp. It is hard to say how many there

Q. Nevertheless there was some reason why this was done? Was
it because the gas chambers were overworked?

A. It is very difficult to answer this question. We do not
know whether they wanted to economise on the gas or whether
there was no room in the gas chambers.

I should also add that it is impossible to determine the
number of these children because they, together with the
Jews who were driven directly to the crematorium, were not
registered, were not tattooed and very often were not even
counted. We, the internees, often tried to ascertain the
number of people who perished in gas chambers, but our
estimates of the number of children executed could only be
based on the number of children's perambulators which were
brought to the shops. Sometimes there were hundreds of these
perambulators, but sometimes they sent thousands.

Q. In one day?

A. Not always the same. There were days when the gas
chambers worked from early morning until late at night.

I should also like to tell you about the children - and
their number is large - who were interned in concentration

At the beginning of 1943, Polish children from Zamoishevna
arrived at the concentration camp with their parents. At the
same time, Russian children from territories occupied by the
Germans, began to arrive. Then Jewish children were added to
these. In smaller numbers, one could also meet Italian
children in the concentration camp. The conditions were as
bad for the children as for adults; perhaps even worse.
These children did not receive any parcels because there was
no one to send them. Red Cross parcels never reached the
inmates. In 1944, a great number of Italian and French
children arrived at the concentration camp. All these
children suffered from skin diseases, lymphatic boils and
malnutrition, they were badly clad, often without shoes, and
had no possibility of washing themselves.

During the Warsaw uprising, captured children from Warsaw
were brought to the concentration camp. The youngest of
these children was a little six-year-old boy. The children
were quartered in special barracks. When the systematic
deportation of internees from Birkenau to the interior of
Germany started, these children were used for heavy labour.
At the same time, there arrived in the concentration camps
the children of Hungarian Jews, who had to work together
with the children who were brought after the Warsaw
uprising. These children worked with two carts which they
had to pull themselves to transport coal, scrap iron, wood
for floors and other heavy things from one camp to the
other. They also laboured at dismantling one of the barracks
during the liquidation of the camp. These children remained
in the concentration camp until the very end. In January,
1945, they were evacuated and had to march to Germany on
foot, under conditions as difficult as those at the front,
under an SS guard, without food, covering about thirty
kilometers a day.

Q. During this march the children died of exhaustion?

A. I was not in a group where there were children, as I
managed to escape on the second day after this evacuation

I should also like to add a few words regarding the methods
of  demoralisation of the people who were interned in
concentration camps. Everything that we had to suffer was
the result of a whole system for degrading human beings.

The concentration camp carts in which the internees were
transported had previously been used for cattle. When the
transports were about to move, the carts were nailed. In
each one of them there was a great number of people. The
convoy of SS men never considered that human beings had

                                                   [Page 15]

needs. Some of these people happened to have pots with them
and they often had to use them for these needs.

For some time I worked at the camp store, where kitchen
utensils of internees were brought.

Q. Do you mean that you worked in the warehouse where the
belongings of those who were murdered were brought. Did I
understand you correctly?

A. No, only the kitchen utensils of people who arrived at
the concentration camps were brought to this warehouse.

Q. These things were taken away from them?

A. What I want to say is that in some cases the kitchen
utensils and pots contained remains of food, and in others
there were human excrements. Each of the workers received a
pail of water, and had to wash a great number of these
kitchen utensils during one half of the day. These kitchen
utensils, which were sometimes very badly washed, were given
to people who had just arrived at the concentration camp.
From these pots and pans they had to eat, so that often they
caught dysentery and other diseases from the first.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, I do not think the Tribunal
wants quite so much of the detail with reference to these
domestic matters.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The witness was called here with a view to
describing the attitude of the Germans toward the children
in the camps.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you keep her to the part of her
testimony which you wish to bring out?


Q. Tell me, witness, can you add anything else to your
description of the attitude of the Germans towards the
children in the camp? Have you already told us about all the
facts which you know regarding this question?

A. I should like to say that the children as well as the
adults were subjected to the system of demoralisation and
degradation through famine. Often starvation caused the
children to look for potato peelings in garbage heaps.

Q. Tell me, witness, do you assert in your testimony, that
sometimes the number of perambulators remaining after the
murder of the children amounted to a thousand per day?

A. Yes, sometimes there were such days.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I have no further questions
to ask of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the Chief Prosecutors wish to ask
any questions?

(There was no answer.)

Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions?

(There was no answer.)

Then, the witness can retire.


Mr. President, I should like to take up the next section of
my report, which deals with the organisation by the German
fascists of secret centres for the extermination of people.
These cannot even be considered concentration camps because
the human beings in these places rarely survived more than
ten minutes or two hours at the most.

Out of all these terrible centres organised by the German
fascists I would submit to the Tribunal evidence on two such
places, that is to say, on Helmno centre (Helmno is a
village in Poland) and on the Treblinka camps. In connection
with this I would ask the Tribunal to summon one witness,
whose testimony is interesting, because he can be considered
a person who returned from "the other world," for the road
to Treblinka was called by the German executors themselves

                                                   [Page 16]

"The Road to Heaven". I am speaking of the witness Rajzman,
a Polish national, and I beg the Tribunal's permission to
bring this witness here for examination.

THE PRESIDENT: It is just a quarter to one now, so we had
better have this witness at two o'clock. We will adjourn

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

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