The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/13

Q. Now, witness, I want to give you another opportunity of
telling the truth.

Are you saying to this Tribunal that you do not know what
happened with regard to the progress of that collection of
skulls and skeletons?

A. That may be seen from the report itself. Persons were
then put at our disposal for this task by order of Himmler.

Q. Who put the actions into operation; did you have anything
to do with it, with the collection of the bodies?

A. No, nothing at all, and I do not know either in what way
the whole thing started, for the direct correspondence and
conferences which had taken place previously between Himmler
and Hirt are things I know nothing about.

Q. Well, now, witness, I have given you an opportunity of
protecting yourself from perjury. You have not taken it.
Look at the next document, No. 86, which is on Page 13 of
the document book. It will be Exhibit GB 575. That is
another of your letters. It is another letter of yours,
again to Himmler's adjutant. It is marked "Secret." It is
dated 2nd November, 1942. Page 13 of your document book, my

  "Dear Comrade Brandt
  "As you know, the Reichsfuehrer SS has directed that SS
  Hauptsturmfuehrer Professor Dr. Hirt be supplied with
  everything needed for his experiments. For certain
  anthropological experiments -I have already reported to
  the Reichsfuehrer SS on them-150 skeletons of prisoners
  of Jews are

                                                  [Page 402]

  required, which are to be supplied by the KL Auschwitz.
  The only thing that remains to be done is that the RSHA
  receive an official directive from the Reichsfuehrer SS.
  This, however, can also be given by you, acting for the
  Reichsfuehrer SS."

You had already been discussing this with Himmler, witness,
had you not? You were his agent for collecting these living
men to turn them into skeletons?

A. That does not apply in this form. The entire matter
covered such a long period of time that as I was concerned
only with particulars, I am not able to reconstruct the
entire connection on the spur of the moment.

Q. I am sure you are not in a hurry to reconstruct them, as
I am sure you could do. For the second time in regard to
this matter you have taken an oath, arid I want you to give
some indication that you know what an oath means. You are a
man of education.

Look at the next document, Number 089, to refresh your
memory as to how distant you were from this matter.

It becomes Exhibit GB 576.

THE PRESIDENT: It came through 089. Do you mean 089?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Nought-eight-nine, Page 16 of your
Lordship's document book.


Q. That is a letter from Brandt to the RSHA dated 6th
November, 1911; marked "Secret." It is for the attention of
SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann; of the RSHA. Reference is
"Establishment of a collection of skeletons at the
Anatomical Institute at Strassburg."

A. Yes.

  "The Reichsfuehrer SS has issued a directive to the
  effect that SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Professor Dr. Hirt, who
  is the director of the Anatomic Institute at Strassburg
  and the head of a department of the Institute for
  Military Science Research in the Ahnenerbe Society, be
  furnished with everything he needs for his research work.
  By order of the Reichsfuehrer SS, therefore, I ask you to
  be of assistance in materialising the planned collection.
  SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Sievers will get in touch with
  you to discuss the details."

Do you still say you know nothing of the details of this

A. I did not say that, you know. Here we are concerned with
the entire historical development of this matter, and in
that connection I just cannot say when it started, for it
can be traced back directly to conversations between Himmler
and Hirt, which took place before Hirt became Director of
Anatomy at Strassburg University. In that capacity, he had
the opportunity and received the task of setting up a modern
anatomical department supplied with the necessary modern
scientific facilities and collections. Thereupon Hirt, in
view of his previous conversations with Himmler, made the
application as may be seen from the report. Then I received
the order to help Hirt in this task assigned to him by
Himmler. I do not know whether Himmler himself -

Q. Just a moment, witness. How many human beings were killed
to create this collection of skeletons?

A. One hundred and fifty people are mentioned in this

Q. That was all you assisted in murdering, was it?

A. I had nothing to do with the murdering of these people. I
simply carried through the function of a postman.

Q. You were the post office, another of these distinguished
Nazi post offices were you?

A. If you wish to refer, as I gather from your question, to
my interrogation before the Commission, I must point out
that in the interrogation before the Commission only the
group Rascher was under discussion.

                                                  [Page 403]

Q. I asked you quite clearly when I cross-examined you
before the Commission - my fire question is on the record at
Page 1939 of the transcript - "How many people do you
estimate were murdered in connection with the, Rascher and
other experiments carried out under the guise of Nazi
science?" and you told me, "I cannot say, because I had no
knowledge of these matters, you know." Fortunately, there
are records available of what you said.

Now, just turn to the next document, Number -

A. Even today I cannot fix the dates, and I do not know the
exact number of persons used by Rascher for experiment. I
cannot tell you that there were a certain number, if I do
not know.

Q. You swore to the Commissioner that you had no knowledge
of these matters. Turn to Document 087, so that your memory
may be refreshed.

That will be Exhibit GB 577. It is Page 14 of your
Lordship's document book.

This is another of your letters. It is headed "Ahnenerbe
Society, Institute for Military Scientific Research." You
were the director of that institute, were you not?

A. Yes. I was the Reich business manager.

Q. Yes. This is dated 21st June, 1943. It is marked "Top
Secret," to the RSHA Department IV B 4, for the attention of
SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann.

  "Subject: Establishment of a Collection of Skeletons.
  Referring to your letter of 25th September, 1942, and the
  personal conversations which have since taken place on
  this subject, I wish to inform you that our associate, SS
  Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Hager, who was in charge of the
  above special project, broke off his experiments in the
  KL Auschwitz on 15th June, 1943, because of the existing
  danger of epidemics.
  Altogether 115 persons were experimented on."

Let me just pause there for a moment. What form of
experiments were going on on these human beings with a view
to the collection of skeletons? What sort of experiments
were they, witness?

A. Anthropological measurements.

Q. Before they were murdered, they were anthropologically
measured? That was all there was to it, was it?

A. And casts were taken.

Q. It does not take very long to make an anthropological
measurement or to take a cast, you know, witness. There were
some other experiments than measurements and casts carried
out on these unfortunate victims of your science, were there

A. I am not familiar with this type of work in Auschwitz. I
know only that anthropological measurements were taken, but
I do not know how long these measurements took.

Q. I will continue your letter now, which makes it quite
clear that there must have been something far more sinister
than anthropological measurements.

  "Altogether 115 persons were experimented on. Seventy-
  nine were Jews; thirty were Jewesses, two were Poles and
  four were Asiatics. At the present time these prisoners
  are segregated by sex and are under quarantine in two
  hospital buildings of KL Auschwitz.
  For the further experimentation on these selected
  prisoners it will be necessary to have them transferred
  to the KL Natzweiler. This transfer should be made as
  speedily as possible because of the existing danger of an
  epidemic at Auschwitz. A list of the selected people is
  We request that the necessary directives be issued. Since
  this transfer of prisoners presents a certain amount of
  danger of spreading the epidemic to Natzweiler, we
  request that immune and clean prisoner clothing for
  eighty men and thirty women be sent from Natzweiler to
  Auschwitz immediately. At the same time lodgings should
  be prepared for the women at Natzweiler in the near

                                                  [Page 404]

That is your letter.

If your only interest in these unfortunate people was their
anthropological measurements and the securing of their frail
bones for skeletons, why did you not kill them straight
away? You must have made experiments on them, the results of
which you wanted to discover, did you not?

A. No, I know nothing whatever of experiments, and such
experiments were not carried on.

Q. What happened to this collection of skeletons? Where was
it assembled?

A. It was taken to Natzweiler, and the further treatment was
in the hands of Professor Hirt.

Q. After SS Professor Hirt and the other SS men had murdered
these people what happened to their bodies? Where were they

A. I assume that they were taken to the Anatomical
Department at Strassburg.

Q. Have you any doubt in your mind about that, witness? You
seem to be hesitant about admitting it. Have you any doubt?

A. Well, I have seen no reports about that and did not
receive any.

Q. Did you have anything to do with the disposal of those
skeletons and those bodies ultimately? Did you have anything
to do with the ultimate disposal of those bodies? I
appreciate your difficulty in answering the question.

A. No. That was in the hands of Professor Hirt. I was not at
Strassburg or Natzweiler in this connection at all.

Q. Did you make any suggestion as to what should happen to
the collection at any time?

A. It was much later when the questions concerning the
occupation of Strassburg and where the collection was to be
deposited arose.

Q. What did you do then?

A. I believe there was a conference which took place - I
cannot exactly tell you with whom it was - to obtain a
decision on the part of Himmler as to where the collection
was to be housed.

Q. Were you present at that conference?

A. I did not talk with Himmler about that matter then.

Q. Did you make any suggestion as to what should happen and
what should be done with the human bodies that you had
assembled at Strassburg? Did you have any suggestions to

A. I cannot say any more. I no longer remember.

Q. Just try to recollect, will you? I am sure you know. It
was 1944. It is not very long ago. I am sure it must be very
vivid in your memory.

A. I am sorry; I cannot give you an exact answer because I
do not remember.

Q. Witness, when the Allied Armies were approaching
Strassburg and the day of reckoning was near, what
suggestion did you make with regard to these bodies in
Strassburg? Tell the Tribunal.

A. I said that I asked Himmler to make a decision as to what
was to become of this collection. This was an affair which
originated from conversations and ideas between Himmler and
Hirt, and I was drawn into it because of the administrative
and technical dispatch of the matter; and therefore Himmler
alone could decide what was to be done.

Q. I have again given you an opportunity to protect yourself
from perjury. Look at Document No. 088 at Page 15; in your
Lordship's document book it will be Exhibit GB 578. This is
another of the letters from your personal staff to Brandt,
Himmler's adjutant; and it is addressed to the Reichsfuehrer
SS Personal Staff Department A; and that is the Ahnenerbe.
It was dated 5th September, 1944. It is marked "Top Secret."
The Allied Armies by then were advancing towards Strassburg,
were they not?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. The subject is "Collection of Jewish Skeletons."

                                                  [Page 405]

  "According to the proposal of 9th February, 1942, and
  your approval of 23rd February, 1942, Professor Dr. Hirt
  has assembled the skeleton collection which was
  previously non-existent. Because of the vast amount of
  scientific research connected therewith, the job of
  reducing the corpses to skeletons has not yet been
  completed. Since it requires some time for eighty
  corpses, Hirt requests directives as to what should be
  done with the collection stored in the morgue of the
  Anatomical Institute in case Strassburg should be
  The collection can be stripped of the flesh and thereby
  rendered unidentifiable. This, however, would mean that
  at least part of the whole work had been done for nothing
  and that this collection, the only one of its kind, would
  be lost to science, since it would be impossible to make
  plaster casts afterwards. The skeleton collection as such
  is inconspicuous. The flesh parts could be declared as
  having been left by the French at the time we took over
  the Anatomical Institute and would be turned over for
  cremating. Please advise me which of the following three
  proposals is to be carried out:
  1. The collection as a whole is to be preserved.
  2. The collection is to be dissolved in part.
  3. The collection is to be completely dissolved."

Why were you wanting to de-flesh the bodies, witness?

A. In this connection I must say that this letter reached me
as an inquiry from Professor Hirt and was further
transmitted in this teletype letter. As I said previously
for this reason I could not exactly remember it for as a
layman the entire manner of treatment was totally unknown to

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