The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/17

The censorship in the camps themselves was complemented by
an officially inspired rumour campaign outside the camps.
Concentration camps were spoken of in whispers, and the
whispers were spread by agents of the Secret Police. When
the defendant Speer said that if the threat of the
concentration camp were used, the news would get around soon
enough, he knew whereof he spoke.

We refer to Document 153I-PS. With reference to this
document, I wish to submit a word of explanation. The
original German text, the original German document, the
captured document was here in the document room and was
translated into English as our translation shows. Yesterday
we were advised that it had either been lost or misplaced,
the original German

                                                  [Page 372]

text, and unfortunately no photostatic copy was available
here in Nuremberg. A certified copy is, however, being sent
to the office here from Frankfurt and it is on its way
today, and I ask the Tribunal's permission to offer the
English translation of the German original, which is
certified to be accurate by the translator, into evidence,
subject to a motion to strike it from the record if the
certified copy of the original German document does not

I now refer to the Document 1431-PS. It is Exhibit USA 248.
This document is marked "Top Secret" and it is addressed to
all State Police District Offices and to the Gestapo Office
and for the information of the Inspectors of the Security
Police and the S.D. It is an order relating to concentration
camps, issued by the head of the Gestapo, and I read from
the English text, beginning with the second paragraph, and
quoting directly:-

   "In order to achieve a further deterrent effect, the
   following must, in the future, be observed in each
   individual case.
   3. The length of the period of custody must in no case
   be made known, even if the Reichsfuehrer S.S. and Chief
   of the German Police or the Chief of the Security Police
   and the S.D. has already fixed it.
   The term of commitment to a concentration camp is to be
   openly announced as 'until further notice'.
   In most serious cases there is no objection to the
   increasing of the deterrent effect by the spreading of
   cleverly carried out rumour propaganda, more or less to
   the effect that, according to hearsay, in view of the
   seriousness of his case, the arrested man will not be
   released for two or three years.
   4. In certain cases the Reichsfuehrer S.S. and Chief of
   the German Police will order flogging in addition to
   detention in a concentration camp. Orders of this kind
   will, in the future, also be transmitted to the State
   Police District Office concerned. In this case, too,
   there is no objection to spreading the rumour of this
   increased punishment as laid down in Section 3,
   Paragraph 3, in so far as this appears suitable, to add
   to the deterrent effect.
   5. Naturally, particularly suitable and reliable people
   are to be chosen for the spreading of such news."

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, the Tribunal think that they will
take judicial notice of that United States Document, 2309-
PS, and, for the convenience of the defence counsel, the
Tribunal having sat until one, will not sit again until two-

MR. DODD: Very well, your Honour.

(A recess was taken until 1415 hours.)

MR. DODD: May it please the Tribunal, the deterrent effect
of the concentration camps was based on the promise of
brutal treatment. Once in the custody of the S.S. guards,
the victim was beaten, tortured, starved, and often murdered
through the so-called "extermination through work" programme
which I described the other day, or through the mass
execution gas chambers and furnaces of the camps, which were
shown several days ago on the moving picture screen in this
court room.

The reports of official government investigations furnish
additional evidence of the conditions within the
concentration camps.

                                                  [Page 373]

Document 2309-PS, which has already been referred to and of
which the Tribunal has taken judicial notice, I now refer to
again, particularly to the second page of the English text,
beginning with the second sentence of the second paragraph:-

   "The work at these camps mainly consisted of underground
   labour, the purpose being the construction of large
   underground factories, storage rooms, etc. This labour
   was performed completely underground and as a result of
   the brutal treatment, working and living conditions, a
   daily average of 100 prisoners died. To the one camp
   Oberstaubling 7,000 prisoners were transported in
   February, 1945, and on the 15th April, 1945, only 405 of
   these men were living. During the 12 months preceding
   the liberation, Flossenburg and the branch camps under
   its control accounted for the death of 14,739 male
   inmates and 1,300 women. These figures represent the
   number of deaths as obtained from the available records
   in the camp. However, they are in no way complete, as
   many secret mass executions and deaths took place. In
   1941 an additional stockade was added to the Flossenburg
   Camp to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000
   prisoners only 102 survive.
   Flossenburg Concentration Camp can best be described as
   a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had in
   view the primary object of putting to work the mass
   slave labour, another of its primary objectives was the
   elimination of human lives by the methods employed in
   handling the prisoners.
   Hunger and starvation rations, sadism, herding,
   inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings,
   hangings, freezing, forced hand hanging, forced
   suicides, shooting, all played a major role in obtaining
   their objective. Prisoners were murdered at random,
   spite killings against Jews were common. Injections of
   poison and shooting in the neck were everyday
   occurrences. Epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were
   permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating
   prisoners. Life in this camp counted for nothing.
   Killing became a common thing, so common that a quick
   death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones."

Passing to the next to the last sentence of this same
paragraph, quoting directly -

THE PRESIDENT: What are those exhibits that are referred to?

MR. DODD: They are in evidence with the affidavit. They are
attached to it.

THE PRESIDENT: They are not, I suppose, mimeographed in our

MR. DODD: No, we have not had an opportunity to mimeograph
each one of them.

THE PRESIDENT: Are they documents or photographs or what?

MR. DODD: They are principally documents. There are some few
plans and photographs,
and so on.

THE PRESIDENT: Are they affidavits or what?

MR. DODD: Some of them are in the form of affidavits taken
at the time of the liberation of the camp from prisoners who
were there, and others are pictures of writings that were
found there and of the plans and so on - that sort of thing.

                                                  [Page 374]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well the Tribunal will take judicial
notice of those exhibits as well.

MR. DODD: Very well, your Honour.

Reading from the last sentence of this same paragraph on the
same page and quoting:-

   "On Christmas, 1944, a number of prisoners were hanged
   at one time. The other prisoners were forced to view
   this hanging. By the side of the gallows was a decorated
   Christmas tree, and, as expressed by one prisoner, 'It
   was a terrible sight, that combination of prisoners
   hanging in the air and the glistening Christmas tree'."

In March or April, 13 American or British parachutists were
hanged. They had been delivered to this camp some time
before and had been captured while trying to blow up

We will not burden the Tribunal with a recital of all of
these reports. We wish, however, to make reference to the
Concentration Camp Mauthausen, one of the most notorious
extermination centres, and I refer particularly to Document
2176-PS, which I have already placed in evidence as Exhibit
USA 249. This is also an official report of the office of
the Judge Advocate General of the United States Third Army,
dated 17th June, 1945. I wish to refer to the conclusions on
Page 3 of the English text, at paragraph numbered Roman V,
beginning with the second sentence as follows:-

   "V. Conclusions:
   There is no doubt that Mauthausen was the basis for long-
   term planning. It was constructed as a gigantic stone
   fortress on top of a mountain flanked by small barracks.
   Mauthausen, in addition to its permanency of
   construction, had facilities for a large garrison of
   officers and men, and had large dining rooms and toilet
   facilities for the staff. It was conducted with the sole
   purpose in mind of exterminating any so-called prisoner
   who entered within its walls. The so-called branches of
   Mauthausen were under direct command of the S.S.
   officials located there. All records, orders, and
   administrative facilities were handled for these
   branches through Mauthausen. The other camps, including
   Gusen and Ebensee, its two most notorious and largest
   branches, were not exclusively used for extermination
   but prisoners were used as tools in construction and
   production until they were beaten or starved into
   uselessness, whereupon they were customarily sent to
   Mauthausen for final disposal."

Both in the showing of the moving picture and from these
careful reports, which were made by the Third Army of the
United States on their arrival at those centres, we say it
is clear that the conditions in those concentration camps
over Germany, and in a few instances outside the actual
borders of the Old Reich, followed the same general pattern.
The widespread incidents of these conditions make it clear
that they were not the result of sporadic excesses on the
part of individual jailers, but were the result of policies
deliberately imposed from above. The crimes committed in
these camps were on so vast a scale that individual
atrocities pale into insignificance.

We have had turned over to us two exhibits which we are
prepared to show to this Tribunal only because they
illustrate the depths to which the administration of these
camps had sunk, at least shortly before the time that they
were liberated by the Allied Army. The Tribunal will recall
that in the exhibit of the moving picture, with respect to
one of the camps, there was a showing

                                                  [Page 375]

of sections of human skin taken from human bodies in the
Buchenwald Concentration Camp and preserved as ornaments.
They were selected, these particular hapless victims,
because of the tattooing which appeared on the skin. This
exhibit, which we have here, is USA 252. Attached to the
exhibit is an extract of an official U.S. Army report
describing the circumstances under which this exhibit was
obtained, and that extract is set forth in Document 3420-PS,
which I refer to in part. It is entitled:-

   "Mobile Field Interrogation Unit No. 2.
   P.W. Intelligence Bulletin.
   13. Concentration Camp, Buchenwald.
   Preamble. The author of this account is P.W. Andreas
   Pfaffenberger, 1 Coy, 9 Landesschuetzen Bn., 43 years
   old and of limited education. He is a butcher by trade.
   The substantial agreement of the details of his story
   with those found in P.W.I.S. (H) /LF/736 establishes the
   validity of his testimony. This P.W. has not been
   questioned on statements which, in the light of what is
   known, are apparently erroneous in certain details, nor
   has any effort been made to alter the subjective
   character of the P.W.'s account, which he wrote without
   being told anything of the intelligence already known.
   The results of interrogation on personalities at
   Buchenwald have already been published (P.W.I.B. No.
   2/12, Item 31).
   In 1939 all prisoners with tattooing on them were
   ordered to report to the dispensary."

THE PRESIDENT: Is this what Pfaffenberger said?

MR. DODD: Yes, sir.

   "No one knew what the purpose was, but after the
   tattooed prisoners had been examined the ones with the
   best and most artistic specimens were kept in the
   dispensary and then killed by injections administered by
   Karl Beigs, a criminal prisoner. The corpses were then
   turned over to the pathological department where the
   desired pieces of tattooed skin were detached from the
   bodies and treated. The finished products were turned
   over to S.S. Standartenfuehrer Koch's wife, who had them
   fashioned into lamp shades and other ornamental
   household articles. I myself saw such tattooed skins
   with various designs and legends on them, such as
   'Haensel and Gretel', which one prisoner had on his
   knee, and ships from prisoners' chests. This work was
   done by a prisoner named Wernerbach."

I also refer to Document 3421-PS, which bears Exhibit USA

   "I, George C. Demas, Lieutenant, U.S.N.R., associated
   with the United States Chief of Counsel for the
   Prosecution of Axis Criminality, hereby certify that the
   attached exhibit, consisting of parchment, was delivered
   by the War Crimes Section, Judge Advocate General, U.S.
   Army, to me in my above capacity, in the usual course of
   business, as an exhibit found in Buchenwald Camp and
   captured by military forces under the command of the
   Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces."

And the last paragraph of Document 3423-PS, Exhibit USA 252,
is a conclusion reached in a United States Army report, and
I quote it:-

   "Based on the findings in Paragraph 2, all three
   specimens are tattooed human skin."

This document is also attached to this exhibit on the board.
We do not wish to dwell on this pathological phase of the
Nazi culture, but we do feel

                                                  [Page 376]

compelled to offer one additional exhibit, which we offer as
Exhibit USA 254 This exhibit, which is on the table, is a
human head with the skull bone removed, shrunken, stuffed,
and preserved. The Nazis had one of their many victims
decapitated, after having had him hanged, apparently for
fraternising  with a German woman, and fashioned this
terrible ornament from his head.

The last paragraph of the official United States Army report
from which I have just read deals with the manner in which
this exhibit was acquired. It reads as follows:-

   "There I also saw the shrunken heads of two young Poles
   who had been hanged for having relations with German
   girls. The heads were the size of a fist, and the hair
   and the marks of the rope were still there."

Another certificate by Lieutenant Demas is set forth in
Document 3422-PS, Exhibit USA 254, and is similar to the one
which I have read a few minutes ago with relationship to the
human skin, excepting that it applies to this second
exhibit. We have no accurate estimate of how many persons
died in these concentration camps and perhaps none will ever
be made, though as the evidence already introduced before
this Tribunal indicates, the Nazi conspirators were
generally meticulous record keepers. But the records which
they kept about concentration camps appear to have been
quite incomplete. Perhaps the character of the records
resulted from the indifference which the Nazis felt for the
lives of their victims. But occasionally we find a death
book or a set of index cards. For the most part,
nevertheless, the victims apparently faded into an
unrecorded death. Reference to a set of death books suggests
at once the scale of the concentration camp operations, and
we refer now and offer Document 493-PS as Exhibit USA 251.
This exhibit is a set of seven books, the death ledger of
the Mauthausen concentration camp. Each book has on its
cover the word "Totenbuch" or Death Book-Mauthausen.

In these books were recorded the names of some of the
inmates who died or were murdered in this camp, and the
books cover the period from January, 1939 to April, 1945.
They give the name, the place of birth, the assigned cause
of death, and time of death of each individual recorded. In
addition each corpse is assigned a serial number, and adding
up the total serial numbers for the five-year period one
arrives at the figure of 35,318.

An examination of the books is very revealing in so far as
the camp's routine of death is concerned, and I invite the
attention of the Tribunal to Volume 5 from Pages 568 to 582,
a photostatic copy of which has been passed to the Tribunal.
These pages cover death entries made for the 19th March,
1945, between 1.15 in the morning and 2 o'clock in the
afternoon. In this space of 12 3/4 hours, on these records,
203 persons are reported as having died. They were assigned
serial numbers running from 8390 to 8592. The names of the
dead are listed. And interestingly enough the victims are
all recorded as having died of the same ailment - heart
trouble. They died at brief intervals. They died in
alphabetical order. The first who died was a man named
Ackermann, who died at 1.15 a.m., and the last was a man
named Zynger, who died at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

At 2.20 of that same afternoon, according to these records,
on 19th March, 1945, the fatal roll call began again and
continued until 4.30. In a space of two hours, 75 more
persons died, and once again they died all from heart
failure and in alphabetical order. We find the entries
recorded in the same volume, from Pages 582 to 586.

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