"In the middle of the year 1943 a strange procession could be observed every morning in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The procession moved from the gate above which large letters proclaiming that "Arbeit macht frei", towards the former post office barrack which was then used as the place where defendants were interrogated. At the head of the procession you could see eight prisoners who carried two mysterious wooden structures, somewhat like hurdles. 50 or 80 police prisoners followed them. They were barely able to walk to the barracks, some where supported by their fellow-sufferers. A considerable number of Gestapo officers had riding-whips at their belts, some had dried and specially prepared bull-hide whips, so widely known in concentration camps. Their equipment was further completed by typewriters and thick briefcases. Guards with automatic pistols escorted the prisoners, though the latter were too weak to offer any resistance. The Gestapo officers entered the barrack where the wooden structure were also brought in. The prisoners who were first to be interrogated followed. The rest had to wait outside, guarded by the sentinels. Soon after, a bellowing of the interrogating Gestapo men was heard, together with of overturned chairs and the noise of blows. The horrible cries of the cruelly tortured men were heard from afar. All of them met the most cruel treatment of they were not immediately ready to confess their "guilt", or if they were suspected to have some knowledge as to the hiding-places of weapons or as to the names of the "members of the bands". Not many knew what purpose the wodden structure served. Those initiated knew that they were "swings", as those implements of the Inquisition were cynically called. One Gestapo officer was responsible for the idea of constructing the "swings" at Auschwitz. He had come from some State Police Office to interrogate a prisoner at Auschwitz. A queer, subdued groaning was suddenly heard from the room which had been put at his disposal. WHen the concentration camp officers entered the room they saw a spectacle which suprised them ... Two tables had been placed side by side with a gap of 1 meter between them. The victim had to sit down on the floor and cross his hands in front of his drawn up knees. His wrists were then bound. A thick bar was put between his elbows and knees. The ends of the bar lay on both tables. He was helplessly swinging between the tables, his head downwards. Then his posterior and naked feet soles were flogged with a bull-hide whip. The blows were so violent that the tortured man rotated wheel-wise. Every time his posterior came into a convenient position, a powerful blow was dealt with all strength. When his cries grew too piercing, the fiendish Gestapo man smothered them by putting a gas-mask on the victim's head. The mask was taken off from time to time and the tortured man would be asked whether he was ready to confess. He was accused to have had arms, having probably fallen victim to an unscroupulous informer. After some 15 minutes the convulsive movements of the tortured man were no longer observable. He was unable to speak and only shook his head weakly when the gas-mask had been removed and he was told to make his confession. His trousers were a dark red colour and blood was dripping on the floor. His head finally hung down motionless, he had fainted. But the Gestapo officer was not moved by that spectacle. With a knowiong look he took out of his pocket a small bottle of sharply smelling liquid and held it to the prisoner's nose, who in fact became conscious again after a few minutes. His buttocks were in such a state that further flogging hardly have increased the pain and so the inquisitor had a better idea. He dripped hot water into the victim's nose. The burning pain must have been indescribable. The inquisitor got what he wanted. After another question, sneeringly asked with full certainty of victory over the fiendishly maltreated man, the latter nodded that he would confess. The bar was then taken from the tables and was upended on the floor so that the mancled man slid down. After pulling the bar away, it ws only with some difficulty that they succeeded in taking off the handcuffs from the purplish, thickly swollen wrists of the maltreated man who lay as if lifeless on the floor. Since he did not react when they shouted at him to come to the table and sign the "confession", he was flogged with the bull-hide whip. The blows fell indiscriminately on his head and back; he was kicked too. Finally, he painfully managed to straighten himself up and sign his "confession". The shakey handwriting and the perspiration stain, where his hand had rested on the record, made it clear to an expert that the interrogation was conducted on the lines of the third degree methods. They called it in offical papers: "an interrogation conducted with the help of all available means", or "a pressing questioning". That method of questioning became popular in Auschwitz. But the device with the two tables, between which the iron bar kept sliding and finally fell to the floor together with the victim, was found to be too primitive. The prisoners who were working in the building section workshops were therefore instructed to make two wooden frames with a moveable steel bar. Thus the torments could be augmented because the tortured person was made to turn a complete circle." Source: Bezwinska and Czech, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, pp.152-154.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor