Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Judgment/Judgment-046 Last-Modified: 1999/05/27 143.The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was administered by Group D of the Economic-Administrative Head Office, directed by Gluecks, to whom Hoess, the first commander of the camp, who carried out most of the extermination activities there, was subordinate. The Accused argues that he had no influence on what was done inside the Auschwitz camp. He would dispatch transports of Jews to Auschwitz in accordance with the orders received, after information had come from the above-mentioned Group D, that the camps were able to receive additional Jews. At the same time, he admits that he visited Auschwitz about five times, and that, at the time of the deportations from Hungary, he checked directly with Hoess the reception possibilities of the camp (Session 93, Vol. IV, p. xxxx25). He also admits that on one of his visits to Auschwitz he witnessed with his own eyes the mass burning of bodies on an iron grating within a pit 100 or even 180 metres long (T/37, p. 227). The statement made by Hoess himself gives a different picture of the Accused's activities in regard to the Auschwitz camp (see his evidence before the International Tribunal at Nuremberg - T/1357; his evidence at his own trial in Poland - T/1356; and his memoirs - T/90). He states that, in the summer of 1941, Himmler informed him that Auschwitz was destined to be the main centre for extermination of the Jews, and that the Accused would visit him shortly in order to give him additional information about this. The Accused arrived to see Hoess shortly afterwards, and together they chose Birkenau as the extermination place and also conferred together about the extermination methods. (At this point, Hoess describes the introduction of Zyklon B gas at Auschwitz. We shall devote our attention to this matter later in a separate chapter of this Judgment.) From Hoess' description, it appears that the Accused gave instructions on various matters connected with what was happening within the camp. For example, he says that the Accused brought him Himmler's order to extract gold teeth from the corpses and to cut off the women's hair. Hoess also relates that it was the view of the Accused that all the Jews arriving in the camp should be exterminated immediately and not used for labour - lest a mishap occur, such as a mass escape. The Accused strenuously denies all these things. According to his version, the process of extermination was already a fait accompli at the time that he first visited Hoess at Auschwitz. To this end he attempts to put the date of his first visit at a later date, to the spring of 1942 (see the timetable attached to the arguments in the written summing- up of Counsel for the Defence). But this attempt is contradicted by what he said in his Statement before Superintendent Less (p. 378), namely that his first visit to Auschwitz took place four weeks after Heydrich had informed him of Hitler's decision to exterminate the Jews physically, i.e. (according to his account), in the autumn of 1941 at the latest. And at that time the extermination of Jews in Auschwitz had not yet begun. It is reasonable to assume that during this visit, the Accused told Hoess of what he had seen in the East and that they exchanged ideas on efficient methods of mass extermination. But we do not propose to find facts based on the evidence of Hoess without corroborative evidence. The Attorney General expressed the opinion that the need for corroboration of the evidence of an accomplice was not dispensed with by the provisions of Section 15 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law. We see no need to decide on this question of principle. We shall only say that, if Section 15 permits us to relax the rule in this matter, we shall not make use of our power in respect of the evidence of an accomplice who is no longer alive, because such relaxation does not appear to us to be necessary in the interests of justice. 144. We have not found any corroboration of Hoess' statement that the Accused brought him the order for the extraction of gold teeth and the cutting off of women's hair, and of his statement about the view expressed by the Accused. But in our opinion there is sufficient proof in Hoess' statements, as supported by other evidence, of the following facts: The Jews who reached the camp were divided into "Transport Jews" (Transportjuden) and others, such as Jews in protective custody. All the Jews dispatched to Auschwitz by Section IVB4 of the RSHA - the Accused's Section - were "Transport Jews" (T/90, p. 12). Every such transport reached the camp in accordance with information from the Accused's Section and was marked with a fixed code number, viz. IVB4 with some figures added, according to the country from which the Jews came (see the evidence of Rajewski, T/1356, p. 19 of the Hebrew translation). No registration at all was made of these Jews in the camp (evidence of Raya Kagan, Session 70, Vol. III, p. 1276), but immediately upon arrival there, they passed through the selection conducted by SS doctors, and those who were unfit for work were dispatched on the spot to the gas chambers. The execution of those who were found fit for work, and who did not die from the hard labour and the conditions which prevailed in the camp, was postponed at the discretion of the camp administration, until they, too, fell victims to one of the selections carried out periodically amongst the prisoners. From 1943 onwards, the registration of deaths of Jews who were not sent immediately to the gas chambers was also discontinued (Session 70, p. 1269). As stated above, the Auschwitz camp belonged organizationally to the Economic-Administrative Head Office, which also controlled the forced labour of the camp prisoners. 145. It follows, therefore, that every trainload of "Transport Jews" reached the Auschwitz camp with its passengers condemned to death by a general decree given in respect of the transport as a whole by the Accused's Section. The moment the Jews passed through the camp gates, they came within the power of the camp administration, which had to carry out the death sentence. At the same time, it had authority to postpone the execution of those who were fit for work. As time went on, the need grew for exploiting prisoners for the production of arms and other work. This we see, for example, from a cable to Himmler signed by Mueller and marked IVB4a, dated 16 December 1942, in which Mueller refers to Himmler's order for the increase of the labour force in the concentration camps and reports the dispatch of 45,000 Jews to Auschwitz, including persons unfit for work, elderly people and children. He calculates that "if a suitable criterion is used, the selection of the Jews on their arrival will produce at least 10,000 to 15,000 labourers out of the total of 45,000 (T/292). This is in accordance with the statement made by Hoess that the percentage of persons fit for work was approximately twenty_five per cent. It has also been proved that it was within the Accused's competence to give instructions in advance that a specific transport should not be taken off for immediate extermination, but only after some time had elapsed, as laid down by him. This is what happened to a transport from Terezin which was deported to the Families' Camp in Auschwitz, with instructions that the people in this transport were to be executed six months later (see below, the chapter on Terezin). 146. Amongst the Jews who reached Auschwitz camp as detainees and not as "Transport Jews" were such as had, allegedly, committed criminal offences, such as the making of a telephone call or contravening the curfew. We heard from the witness Raya Kagan, who worked in the registration office at Auschwitz, that this group received better treatment, because they were exempted from the selections (Session 70, Vol. III, p. 1272). Jews in "protective custody" (Schutzhaftjuden) reached the camp by virtue of individual orders issued by Section IVC2 of the RSHA, which dealt with protective custody matters (see T/1280, p. 3). In his Statement T/37, p. 163, the Accused explains that the substantive examination of these individual cases was made by his Section, and Section IVC2 only issued the formal order. From exhibit T/103 it appears that matters of release from concentration camps were also within the competence of the RSHA (supra, p. 9, para. 11(f)). But as Raya Kagan testified, as far as the Jews were concerned, this was only theoretical, because a Jew, once he entered Auschwitz, never came out again (Session 70, Vol. III, p. xx21; see also the Accused's account in his Statement T/37, pp. 223-224). The Accused was not authorized to give orders himself for the carrying out of the death sentence by way of punishment of Jews in Auschwitz and in other concentration camps. Apparently, this authority was reserved to Himmler himself, and to Mueller (see T/202, p. 1, end). But notification of the carrying out of the execution of Jews was transmitted to the Section of the Accused (T/37, p. 2101). 147. With regard to the Chelmno extermination camp, proof has been adduced before us that it was administered by a special unit commanded by one Bothmann (see T/1297, p. 12, of the Hebrew translation; T/1299). We do not have before us proof of any administrative connection between this unit and the Accused's Section. Covering up of the Traces 148. In the autumn of 1942, Himmler ordered the opening of the mass graves of Jews previously executed in the East, the burning of the bodies, and the elimination of all traces of slaughter which had taken place in every locality. Apparently, Himmler was afraid that the advancing Red Army might discover the graves, and he thought that the disposal of the bodies would be sufficient to efface the eternal shame. The task was allotted to a special unit known as No. 1005, commanded by Standartenfuehrer Paul Blobel. The testimonies we heard on this subject, especially from two witnesses, Dr. Leon Wells (Weliczker) and Avraham Karasik, conjured up visions of hell which were amongst the most horrifying parts of all the evidence submitted by the Prosecution. In June 1943, Dr. Wells was taken off to work in this unit in eastern Galicia. He describes the work as follows (Session 23, Vol. I, p. 370): "We used to uncover all the graves where there were people who had been killed during the past three years, take out the bodies, pile them up in tiers and burn these bodies; grind the bones, take out all the valuables in the ashes such as gold teeth, rings and so on - separate them...we used to throw the ashes up in the air so that they would disappear, replace the earth on the graves and plant seeds, so that nobody could recognize that there ever was a grave there." He described the grinding machine as something like a big concrete mixer, with steel balls inside. They would put the bones into the machine and the steel balls would crush them (supra, p. 371). We have already recalled above a similar description by the witness Zurawski (Chelmno camp). This unit was occupied not only with dead bodies, but also with living human beings who were taken to the pyre, shot there, and cast into the flames. Dr. Wells describes that, at the time of mass murder by machine guns, not all the victims were invariably killed by the bullets, and so it happened that people still alive met death in the flames. He estimates the number of those killed in this way, and whose death he witnessed himself, at 30,000, the last remnant of the Jews in that territory. This was during the last stage of the extermination of East Galician Jewry, by order of Katzmann, Commander of the SS and the Police. Dr. Wells estimates the number of bodies burned by this unit at several hundred thousand (supra, p. 51). The witness Karasik gave similar evidence about the work of Unit 1005 in another region, in the vicinity of Bialystok and Eastern Prussia (Session 28, p. 12). Hoess states in his memoirs (exhibit T/90, p. 6) that, some time after Himmler's visit in the summer of 1942, Standartenfuehrer Blobel "of the Eichmann Service Unit" arrived and brought with him Himmler's order for the opening of all the mass graves in Auschwitz and the burning of the bodies. He also states that Blobel received instructions from Eichmann to show him the crematorium which had been set up in the Chelmno extermination camp. T/218 is the report on Hoess' journey to Chelmno, accompanied by another two SS officers. In that report as well, mention is made of a grinding machine which was to be sent to Auschwitz. Hoess states also that from time to time he had to supply Jews for work with Unit 1005, because when the work was finished in each section, all the Jews who had been employed in the unit were shot. Wisliceny says of Blobel's unit that it "was formally placed under Eichmann" (T/85, p. 9). The Accused denied that he was Blobel's superior. According to him, the only connection between his Section and Blobel was that Blobel himself and some of his men were housed in the building of Section IVB4 while they were in Berlin, and his Section dealt with them only from an administrative aspect (T/37, pp. 264, 390, 3044). He also mentions strained personal relations between himself and Blobel. We find that the evidence is not sufficient to place the responsibility for the activities of Blobel's unit on the Accused. As against Hoess' statement, it should be pointed out that Blobel himself, in the declaration which he made at Nuremberg (T/216), says in regard to his work as commander of Unit 1005: "I was under the control of Department IV, under the former Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. In the autumn I received instructions, as the person charged by Mueller, to travel to the Eastern Occupied Territories, to cover up the traces of the mass graves from the time that executions had been carried out by the Operations Units." The Accused's name is not mentioned by Blobel, and also in the nature of things it does not necessarily follow that the Section of the Accused, which was occupied with carrying out the Final Solution, should also be engaged in the special operation of covering up the traces. Accordingly, the Accused will have the benefit of the doubt in this matter.
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