The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

                                                  [Page 173]

Q. There were some Spaniards with you also?

A. 8000 Spaniards arrived in Mauthausen in 1941 toward the
end of the year. When we left at the end of April 1945,
there were still about 1,600. All the rest had been

Q. Where did these Spaniards come from?

A. These Spaniards came from labour companies which had been
organised in 1939 and 1940 in France, or were delivered by
the Vichy Government to the Germans.

Q. Is this all you have to tell us?

A. With the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to cite
another example of an atrocity which remains clearly in my
memory. This also took place during September 1944. I am
sorry I cannot remember the exact date, but I do know it was
a Saturday, because on Saturday at Mauthausen all the
outside detachments had to answer evening roll call inside
the camp. That took place only on Saturday night and on
Sunday morning.

That evening the roll call took longer than usual. Someone
was missing.
After a long wait and searches carried out in the various
blocks, they found a Russian, a Soviet prisoner, who perhaps
had fallen asleep, and had forgotten to answer roll call;
what the reason was we never knew, but at any rate he was
not present at the roll call. Immediately the dogs and the
SS went, seized the poor wretch, and before the whole camp -
I was in the front row, not because I wanted to be, but
because we were arranged like that - we witnessed the fury
of the dogs let loose upon this unfortunate Soviet man. He
was torn to bits in the presence of the whole camp.

I should add that this man, in spite of his sufferings,
faced his death in a particularly brave manner.

Q. What were the living conditions of the prisoners? Were
they all treated in the same way, or were they treated
differently according to their origin and nationality, or,
perhaps, their racial background, or because they belonged
to any particular race?

A. As a general rule the camp regime was the same for all
nationalities, with the exception of the quarantine blocks
and the annexes of the prison. The kind of work we did, the
particular detachment to which we were detailed, sometimes
allowed us to get a little more food than usual, for
instance, those who worked in the kitchens or in the stores
certainly did get a little more.

Q. Were Jews permitted to work in the kitchen or the store

A. At Mauthausen the Jews had the hardest tasks of all. I
must point out that, until December 1943, the Jews did not
live more than three months at Mauthausen. There were very
few of them at the end.

Q. What happened in that camp after the murder of Heydrich?

A. In this connection there was a particularly dramatic
episode. At Mauthausen there were 3,000 Czechs, 600 of whom
were intellectuals. After the murder of Heydrich, the Czech
colony in the camp was exterminated with the exception of
300 out of 3,000, and six intellectuals out of the 600 that
were in the camp.

Q. Did anyone speak to you of scientific experiments?

A. They were commonplace at Mauthausen, as they were in
other camps. But we have evidence which I think has been
found: the two skulls which Were used as paper weights by
the chief SS medical officer. These were the skulls of two
young Dutch Jews who had been selected from a convoy of 800
because they had fine teeth.

To make this selection the SS doctor had led these two young
Dutch Jews to believe that they would not suffer the fate of
their comrades of the convoy. He had said to them "Jews do
not live here. I need two strong, healthy, young men for
surgical experiments. You have your choice; either you offer
yourselves for these experiments or else you will suffer the
fate of the others."

                                                  [Page 174]

These two Jews were taken to the hospital, one of them had
his kidney removed, the other his stomach. Then they had
benzine injected into the heart and were decapitated. As I
said, these two skulls with fine sets of teeth were kept on
the desk of the chief SS doctor until the liberation.

Q. At the time of Himmler's visit - I would like to come
back to that question - are you certain that you recognised
Himmler and saw him presiding over the executions?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you think that what was taking place in Mauthausen
could not be known to all members of the German Government?
The visits you had received, were they simply visits by the
SS, or were they visits of other prominent people?

A. As regards your first question; we all knew Himmler, and
if we did not, all the others in the camp did; also the SS
told us a few days before, that his visit was expected. He
was present at the beginning of the executions of the Soviet
officers. But, as I said a little while ago, these
executions lasted throughout the afternoon, and he did not
remain until the end. With regard to ...

Q. Is it possible that only the SS knew what happened in the
camp? Was the camp visited by others than the SS? Did you
know the SS uniforms? The people you saw, the authorities
you saw - did they all wear a uniform?

A. The people that we saw at the camp were, generally
speaking, soldiers, officers. Some time afterwards, a few
weeks before the liberation, we had a visit from the
Gauleiter of the Gau Oberdonau. We also had frequent visits
from members of the Gestapo in plain clothes. But the
people, that is, the Austrian population, were perfectly
aware of what was going on at Mauthausen. The foremen were
nearly all from outside.

I said just now that I was working in a Messerschmidt gang.
The foremen were mobilised German civilians who, in the
evening, went home to their families. They knew quite well
our sufferings and privations. They frequently saw men
fetched from the shop to be executed, and they could bear
witness to most of the massacres I mentioned a little while

I should add that once we received - I am sorry I put it
like that - once there arrived in Mauthausen 30 firemen from
Vienna. They were imprisoned, I think, for having taken part
in some sort of workers' action. The firemen from Vienna
told us that when one wanted to frighten children in Vienna,
one said to them: "If you are not good, I will send you to

Another detail, a more concrete one: Mauthausen camp is
built on a plateau and every night the chimneys of the
crematorium would light up the whole district, and everyone
knew what the crematorium was for.

Another detail: The town of Mauthausen was situated five
kilometres from the camp. The convoys of deportees were
brought to the station of the town. The whole population
could see these convoys pass. The whole population knew in
what state these convoys were brought into the camp.

M. DUBOST: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the Soviet prosecutor wish to ask any

GENERAL RUDENKO: I should like to ask a few questions.


Q. Can you tell me, witness, why the execution of the 50
Soviet officers was ordered? Why were they executed?

A. As regards the specific case of these 50 officers, I do
not know the reasons why they were condemned and executed
but, as a general rule, all Soviet officers all Soviet
Commissars, or members of the Bolshevist Party, were
executed at Mauthausen. If a few among them succeeded in
slipping through, it is because their identity was not known
to the SS.

                                                  [Page 175]

Q. You affirm, that Himmler was present at the execution of
the 50 Soviet officers?

A. I testify to the fact, because I saw him with my own

Q. Can you give us more precise details about the execution
of the 4,000 Soviet prisoners of war which you have just

A. I cannot add much to what I have said, except that these
men were assassinated at their work, probably because the
task demanded of them was beyond their strength, and they
were too underfed to perform it. They were murdered on the
spot by blows with a cudgel, or struck down by the SS; they
were driven by the SS to the wire fence and shot down by the
sentinels in the watchtowers. I cannot give more details,
because, as I said, I was not a witness, an eye witness.

Q. That is quite clear.

And now one more question: Can you give me a more detailed
statement concerning the destruction of the Czech colony?

A. I speak with the same reservations as before. I was not
in the camp at the time of the extermination of the 3,000
Czechs, but the survivors with whom I spoke in 1944 were
unanimous in confirming the accuracy of these facts and
probably, as far as their own country is concerned, have
drawn up a list of the murdered men.

Q. This means, if I have understood you correctly, that in
the camp where you were interned executions were carried out
without trial or inquiry. Every member of the SS had the
right to kill an internee. Have I understood your statement

A. Yes, that is so. The life of a man at Mauthausen counted
for absolutely nothing.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any member of the defendants' counsel
wish to ask any questions of this witness? Then the witness
can retire. Witness, a moment.


Q. Do you know how many guards there were at the camp?

A. The number of the guards varied but, as a general rule,
there were 1,200 SS, and also soldiers of the Volkssturm.
However, it should be stated that only 50 to 60 SS were
authorised to come inside the camp.

Q. Those 50 or 60 SS men, were they SS men that were
authorised to go into the camp?

A. Yes, they were.

Q. All SS men?

A. All of them were SS.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

M. DUBOST: With your permission, gentlemen, we shall proceed
with the presentation of our case on German atrocities in
the Western countries of Europe from 1939 to 1945, by
retaining from these testimonies the particular acts which,
taken separately, all equally constitute common crimes. The
general idea, around which we have grouped all our work and
the presentation, is the German terrorism, intentionally
conceived as an instrument for governing all enslaved

We shall remember the testimony brought by the French
witness who said that in Vienna, when one wished to frighten
a child, one told it about Mauthausen.

The people who were arrested in the Western countries were
deported to Germany, where they were put into camps or into
prisons. The information that we have concerning the prisons
has been taken from the official report of the Prisoners of
War Ministry, which we have already read; it is the bound
volume which was in your hands this morning. In it you will
find, namely

                                                  [Page 176]

on page 35, and page 36 to page 42, a detailed statement as
to what the prisons were like in Germany.


M. DUBOST: It was 274-F, on page 35. The Tribunal can read
that the prison at Cologne, where many Frenchmen were
interned, was situated between the goods station and the
main station, so that the Prosecutor in Cologne wrote, in a
report which was used by the Ministry of Deportees and
Prisoners of War when compiling the book which is before
you, that the situation of that prison was so dangerous that
no concern engaged in war work would undertake to furnish
its precious materials to a factory in that area. The
internees could not seek shelter during air attacks. They
remained locked in their cells, even if fire broke out.

The victims of air attacks in the prisons were numerous. The
May 1944 raid claimed 200 victims in the prison at Alexander
Platz in Berlin.

The buildings were always dirty and damp, and were very
small. In Aix-la-Chapelle the prisoners numbered three or
four times as many as the facilities permitted. In Munster
the women who were there in November 1943 lived underground
without any air. In Frankfurt the prisoners had as cells a
sort of iron cage, 2 x 1.50 metres. It was impossible to
keep clean. At Aix-la-Chapelle, as in many other prisons,
the prisoners had only one bucket in the middle of the room,
and it was forbidden to empty it during the day.

The food ration was extremely small. As a rule, ersatz
coffee in the morning with a thin slice of bread; soup at
noon; a thin slice of bread at night with a little margarine
or sausage or jam.

The internees were forced to do extremely heavy work, war
industry, procuring of food products, weaving and plaiting.
No matter what kind of work it was, at least twelve hours
were required at Cologne in particular, from 7 o'clock in
the morning to 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening, that is to
say, 14 or 15 consecutive hours. I am still quoting from the
file of the Public Prosecutor of Cologne, document 87, sent
to us by the Ministry of Prisoners. A shoe factory gave work
to the inmates of 18 German prisons. I quote the last 2
lines of this page:

   "Most of the Frenchmen flatly refused to work in war
   industries, for example, the manufacture of gas masks,
   filing of cast iron plates, slidings for shells, radio
   or telephone apparatus intended for the Army."

In such cases Berlin gave orders to send recalcitrants to
reprisal camps, for example, they sent women from Kottbus to
Ravensbruck on 13 November 1944. The Geneva Convention was,
of course, not applied. The political prisoners frequently
had to retrieve unexploded bombs.

This is from the official German text of the Public
Prosecutor of Cologne.

There was no medical supervision. Either there were no
prophylactic measures taken in these prisons in the event of
epidemics, or the SS doctor intentionally gave the wrong

At the prison of Dietz or Lahn, under the direction of
Director Gammradt, a former major in the German Army, the SS
or SA guards struck the prisoners. Dysentery, diphtheria,
pulmonary lesions, pleurisy, were not considered to be
reasons for stoppage of work, and those who were dangerously
ill were forced to work to the very limit of their strength,
and were only admitted to the hospital in exceptional cases.

In Aix-la-Chapelle the presence of a Jewish prisoner in the
cell caused the other prisoners to lose half of their
ration. At Amrasch they could go to toilets only when
ordered. At Magdeburg the recalcitrants had to make one
hundred genuflexions before the guards. The interrogations
were carried out in the same manner as in France, that is,
the victims were brutally treated and were given practically
no food.

                                                  [Page 177]

At Asperg the doctor gave the internees injections in the
heart so that they died. At Cologne those condemned to death
were perpetually kept in chains. At Sonnenburg those who
were dying were given a greenish liquor to drink which
hastened their death. In Hamburg sick Jews were forced to
dig their own graves until, exhausted, they fell into them.
We are speaking of Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Luxembourgers, Danes
and Norwegians interned in German prisons. These
descriptions apply only to citizens of those countries. In
the prison of Boers in Berlin, Jewish babies were massacred
before the eyes of their mothers. The sterilisation of men
is confirmed by German documents in the file of the
Prosecutor of Cologne, which contains a ruling to the effect
that the victims cannot be reinstated in their military
rights. These files also contain documents which show the
role played by children who were in prison. They had to work
inside the prison. A German functionary belonging to the
penitentiary service inquired as to the decision to be taken
with regard to a four months old baby, which was brought to
the prison at the same time as its father and mother.

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