New York Times, Sep 18 1945, p. 1. SS Killed 4,000,000 at Oswiecim, Prosecutor Says at Kramer Trial By the Associated Press LUENEBURG, Germany, Sept. 17 -- Testimony that more than 4,000,000 persons had died at the Oswiecim concentration camp was promised by the prosecution today at the opening of the military trial of Josef Kramer and forty-four SS henchmen for conspiracy to commit mass murder. A converted gymnasium in the heart of this picturesque medieval city served as a courtroom for the British military court trying Kramer -- known as the "beast of Belsen" for the regime of horror he instituted at that camp after his transfer from Oswiecim -- and the twenty-three men and twenty-one women who had served under him. At the outset, Maj. Gen. M.P.M. Berney-Ficklin, heading the court, brushed aside efforts of British officers defending the accused to get separate trials on the Oswiecim and Belsen camp charges. Then Col. T.M. Backhouse, chief prosecutor, capped a cold, precise, two-hour-long recital of the incredible crimes charged to that forty-five with a disclosure that he had a witness who had seen records of 4,000,000 deaths at Oswiecim. Mass starvation, beatings and torture, filth and disease and despair, inamtes driven to cannibalism -- that was the picture Colonel Backhouse painted for the men trying the Nazis, by royal warrant, on behalf of all Allied countries whose nationalis suffered in the camp. Throughout, the sullen Kramer and his stone-faced co-defendants sat impassibe, under guard of red-capped British military policemen and brisk ATS women serving as court matrons. Twelve of them -- including Kramer and the SS woman Irma Grese who, Colonel Backhouse said, had been called the worst of the women guards -- were charged with crimes at Oswiecim, where Continued on Page 9, Column 4 Continued From Page 1 Kramer commanded the Birkenau compound, infamous as the biggest and worst of Germany's mass murder factories, until he was moved to Belsen five months before the British armies liberated it April 15. "At Oswiecim, the prosecution will say there was the deliberate cold-blooded extermination of millions," Colonel Backhouse told the court. He added: "Every member of the Belsen gang bore a share in treatment they knew would cause death and physical suffering. We will provide evidence that they committed deliberate acts of cruelty and willful murder." 13,000 Corpses Discovered [Five paragraphs of Belsen information omitted - JRM] Colonel Backhouse said he had evidence to prove that "everyone" of the Oswiecim guards was guilty of "deliberate mass murder." He said women guards had made a sport of setting a large hound on feeble prisoners to tear them apart. Thousands of others, he said, were gassed to death in a "shower room," and their bodies hauled to a crematorium on a trolley car. Maj. L.S.W. Cranfield of the British defense attorneys reserved the right to file a formal objection to the charges on the grounds that they did not disclose offenses against international law. He asked to confer with an international law expert. Kramer and the other defendants all pleaded innocent when arraigned. === Commentary on the above article === Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 03:09:24 GMT Message-Id: <199603050227.UAA25122@legend.txdirect.net> From: "Harry W. Mazal OBE"
I will go through the newspaper article carefully and compare it with the actual words recorded in the trial. The journalist might be indulging in a bit of sensationalistic license in the article by focussing on the Prosecution's Opening Speech rather than on the Indictment: My information can be corroborated in: _Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others (The Belsen Trial)_ edited by: Raymond Phillips, M.C. , M.A., B.C.L. (Oxon.), Barrister-at-Law, with a foreword by: The Right Hon. Lord Jowitt, Lord Chancellor of England c. 1949, William Hodge and Company, London-Edinburgh-Glasgow >New York Times, Sep 18 1945, p. 1. >SS Killed 4,000,000 at Oswiecim, Prosecutor Says at Kramer Trial >By the Associated Press The reporter could only have written about what happened at the Trial on 17th September, 1945. The "Table of Contents" for that day reads: "First Day -- Monday, 17th September, 1945" "Indictment...............................................4 Request by Defense for the services of an expert on International Law............................5 Application of Defense for charges to be heard separately.7 Application of Defense for separate trials...............12 Opening Speech for the Prosecution.......................14" >LUENEBURG, Germany, Sept. 17 -- Testimony that more than 4,000,000 >persons had died at the Oswiecim concentration camp was promised by the >prosecution today at the opening of the military trial of Josef Kramer >and forty-four SS henchmen for conspiracy to commit mass murder. from pp. 4-7 "INDICTMENT" "The accused, Josef Kramer, Fritz Klein [et al] [...] are charged with COMMITTING A WAR CRIME In That They 1st Charge. At Bergen-Belsen, Germany, between 1st October, 1942 and 30th April, 1945 [...] were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of certain such persons [interned there], causing the deaths of Keith Meyer (a British national), Anna Kis, ... [list of 11 others follows] [...] and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown. [...] 2nd Charge. The accused, Josef Kramer, Fritz Klein [et al.] [...] are charged with COMMITTING A WAR CRIME In That They at Auschwitz, Poland, between 1st October, 1942, and 30th April, 1945, when members of the staff of Auschwitz Concentration Camp responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, in violation of the law and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of such persons, causing the deaths of Rachella Silberstein (a Polish national), Allied nationals and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown, and physical suffering to other persons interned there, Allied nationals, and particularly to Ewa Gryka and Hanka Rosenwayg (both Polish nationals) and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown." The indictment steers clear of any numerical rhetoric. It is simple and clear, as documents of this sort have to be. The Prosecutor only has to prove that the accused are guilty of these specific charges. >A converted gymnasium in the heart of this picturesque medieval city >served as a courtroom for the British military court trying Kramer -- >known as the "beast of Belsen" for the regime of horror he instituted at >that camp after his transfer from Oswiecim -- and the twenty-three men >and twenty-one women who had served under him. Quite true, but it looks more like a rather large and elegant ballroom, not a converted gymnasium. (photo of No. 30 Lindenstrasse, Lu"neburg, scene of the Belsen Trial, and Interior view of the court-room, page xlviii) >At the outset, Maj. Gen. M.P.M. Berney-Ficklin, heading the court, >brushed aside efforts of British officers defending the accused to get >separate trials on the Oswiecim and Belsen camp charges. "Brushed aside" is a poor choice of words. The Judge Advocate states on page 12, after hearing the pleas from the defense: "The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- May it please the court. The application by the Defense is that it would not be right, that it would be embarrassing and improper if you were to take the whole of the evidence together which relates to these two charges, and if you were to try the accused at one and the same time.There is an application to sever these charges, that is to say, that this Court should first of all deal with the first charge and thereafter this or a different Court should proceed to deal with the second charge. This is a matter entirely for you. (The Court close and confer) The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- Captain Phillips , the Court ask me to say that they are indebted to you for a very clear and cogent argument and that they have understood it very clearly. They have considered it, but over- rule this application and they will not sever the first charge from the second. That being so, the Court will listen to anything more you have to say." [Captain Phillips goes on to make an impassioned plea basing himself on Regulation 8 of the Royal Warrant or the Regulations made under the Royal Warrant.] " All the Defending Officers then made application for separate trials based on Captain Phillips' argument." [Colonel Backhouse, Counsel for the Prosecution, argues his point at length, ending with:] [...] I ask the Court to regard the application as a whole as being one which must fall to the ground that there is ample evidence on the summary that there was concerted action by these people at Auschwitz and at Belsen. [...] "The Court close and confer" "The JUDGE ADVOCATE -- Captain Phillips, I will address my remarks to you, but they equally apply to your colleagues who addressed arguments to the Court. The Court have considered the arguments and they feel that these are cases which do not fall within Regulation 8 (2) and that they are therefore bound to comply with the Regulation. That being so, they must refuse the applications. Tha means that no accused will be tried separately so far as this trial is concerned." Not what I would call a "brush-off" at all. >Then Col. T.M. Backhouse, chief prosecutor, capped a cold, precise, >two-hour-long recital of the incredible crimes charged to that >forty-five with a disclosure that he had a witness who had seen records >of 4,000,000 deaths at Oswiecim. That he does. In the Opening Speech for the Prosecution, pp. 14/30, he states (p.17): Colonel BACKHOUSE -- [...] In respect of Auschwitz I will go further and say that not only will the Prosecution ask you to say that it was done with the deliberate knowledge that the conditions would cause death, but that there was deliberate killing of thousands and probably millions of people, quite deliberate, cold-blooded extermination of millions of people in that camp, and that each of the accused who was serving at Auschwitz and is charged in the second charge, had his or her share in this joint endeavor in this group of persons who were carrying out this policy of deliberate extermination. In respect of Belsen, there will not be an allegation that there was a gas chamber, or that persons were herded by the thousands to their death, but there will be an allegation that by the treatment that was given to the people at Belsen every member of the staff at Belsen who stands before you bore their share in that treatment, which they knew was causing and would continue to cause death and injury." He then goes on to accuse the defendants of a long series of crimes until, on page 27 he states: "[...] For instance, on 1st December, 1943, there were 4124 women in hospital. 4000 were taken out and gassed, patients were made to run naked around the hospital and those who could not keep up were taken to the gas chamber. In May, 1944, you will hear that the gas chambers were being used so fast that the crematoria could not keep up with them and the bodies had to be thrown in ditches and burned. One of the men who worked in one of the crematoria will tell you that in three months, in one of the five chambers alone 20,000 people were gassed, and you will hear from a witness, herself a doctor , that from records she has seen there were no less than 4,000,000 people cremated in that camp. You will hear an actual account of what the gassing was like from two people who were sent into the gas chambers and rescued at the last moment, and you will hear that the victims foamed at the mouth, turned blue, and finally died." So there we have it: the famous use of four million in a Court of Law. Let us now search for the testimony and see how it was used. The "witness, herself a doctor" is Dr. Ada Bimko, whose testimony and cross-examination begins on page 66 and ends on page 78. Dr. Bimko describes the chambers, the selections and many other grim features of Auschwitz and Belsen. On page 68 she states in response to the question by Col. Backhouse: "[Col. Backhouse] Did any of the prisoners keep any records in respect of these gas chambers? -- [Dr. Bimko] Yes. There were a number of internees working in these crematoria and this working Kommando had the name of 'Sonderkommando,' special Kommando. These Kommandos were changed after a few months because they themselves were also destroyed. Thet were gassed. One of those who took part on these Kommandos before being gassed had complete records of all these transports which arrived, and they eventually were destroyed. He himself, in fact, kept records also and he said that the number of Jews who were destroyed in this gas chamber would be about four million." Oddly enough, none of the Defense Counsel make any inquiries regarding this number in their cross-examination. >Mass starvation, beatings and torture, filth and disease and despair, >inmates driven to cannibalism -- that was the picture Colonel Backhouse >painted for the men trying the Nazis, by royal warrant, on behalf of all >Allied countries whose nationals suffered in the camp. This is probably quite right. >Throughout, the sullen Kramer and his stone-faced co-defendants sat >impossible, under guard of red-capped British military policemen and >brisk ATS women serving as court matrons. No doubt... [Major text deletion] My impression is that Dr. Bimko is repeating hearsay. I cannot believe that she actually saw, as the opening statement by the Prosecution said: "[...] that from records she has seen there were no less than 4,000,000 people cremated in that camp." Any comments? Harry === Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 22:21:51 GMT Message-Id: <199603042208.XAA20440@mailbox.swip.net> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephane Bruchfeld) Subject: Re: The original four million allegation (fwd) In the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet there is a small item on May 8 1945, under the heading "No survivors from Dachau" (an allusion to a Himmler order), which says: On Monday [7th of May] Radio Moscow cited an article in Pravda according to which Himmler is regarded as directly responsible for the crimes that have been committed in the German concentration camp in Auschwitz. More than 4 million human beings have reportedly been exterminated in the Auschwitz camp, among them many Russians, Poles, Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen, Czechs, Yugoslavs, Rumanians and Hungarians. No mention of any Jews, but it seems someone who can read Russian should take a look at Pravda, May 7 1945.
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