The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-Fifth Day: Tuesday, 29rd January, 1946
(Part 5 of 9)

[M. DUBOST continues his examination of the witness Paul Roser]

[Page 245]

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defence counsel wish to ask any questions?

(Cross-examination by DR. NELTE (Counsel for the defendant Keitel.)

Q. Witness, when were you taken prisoner?

A. I was taken prisoner on the 14 of June 1940.

Q. In which camp for prisoners of war were you put?

A. I was immediately sent to the Oflag, 11 D, at Grossborn Westphalenhof in Pomerania.

[Page 246]

Q. Oflag?

A. Yes.

Q. What regulations were made known to you in the prisoner of war camp regarding a possible attempt to escape?

A. We were warned that we would be shot at, and that we should not try to escape.

Q. Do you think that this warning was in agreement with the Geneva Convention?

A. This one certainly.

Q. You mentioned, if I heard correctly, the case of Robin from Oflag II D. You said that there was an officer who dug a tunnel in order to escape from the camp, and that as he was the first to emerge from the tunnel, he was shot.

A. Yes. So I said.

Q. Were you with those officers who tried to escape?

A. I said before that this was related to me by Lieutenant Ledoux who was still in Oflag II D when that happened.

Q. I only wanted to ascertain that this officer, Robin, met his death whilst trying to escape.

A. Yes, but here I should like to mention one thing, namely, all the prisoners of war who escaped knew that they risked their lives. Every one attempting to escape, knew that he risked a bullet, But it is one thing to be killed trying to cross the barbed wire, for instance, and it is another thing to be ambushed and murdered at the very moment when you are helpless, when you are without arms and at the mercy of anybody, as was the case with Lieutenant Robin, who was in a low tunnel, flat on his stomach, crawling along, when he was killed. This was no longer in accordance with international rules.

Q. I see what you mean, and you may rest assured that I respect every prisoner of war who tried to do his duty as a patriot. In this case, however, which you did not witness, I wanted to make the point that this first, courageous officer who left the tunnel might not have answered when challenged by the guards and was therefore shot. Though you have just given a vivid description of the incident, I think this was a product of your imagination because, according to your own testimony, you did not see it yourself; is this correct?

A. No. There are not 36 different ways of getting out of a tunnel. You lie flat on your stomach, you crawl, and if you are killed before you get out of the tunnel, I call that murder.

Q. And then you saw the officer -


DR. NELTE: Your Honour?

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want argument in cross examination. The witness has already stated that he was not there and did not see it, and he has explained the facts.

DR. NELTE: Thank you.

Q. The incident in respect to Lt. Thomson is not quite clear to me. In this case too, I believe you said you had no direct knowledge, but were informed by a friend. Is his correct?

A. I cannot but repeat what I said before. I related the story of a French Lieutenant, Ledoux, who told me that he was in the fortress of Graudezs together with Anthony Thomson, Lt. in the RAF. This British officer escaped from the fortress. He was recaptured on the airfield, taken back to the fortress, put into the same cell as Lt. Ledoux, and Ledoux saw him killed by a revolver shot in the back of the neck. Ledoux gave me the name of the murderer. I think I mentioned him, Sergeant-Major Osterreich. This is the story told me by a witness.

[Page 247]

Q. Was Sergeant-Major Osterreich a guard at the camp, or to which formation did he belong?

A. I do not know.

Q. Do you know that you, as prisoner of war, had a right to complain?

A. Certainly; I know the Geneva Convention signed by Germany in 1934.

Q. Knowing those regulations you also knew, did you not, that you could complain to the camp commander? Did you avail yourself of this opportunity?

A. I tried to do so, but without success.

Q. May I ask you for the name of the camp commander who refused to hear you ?

A. I do not know the name, but I will tell you when I tried to complain.

Q. Please do.

A. It happened when I was in the infamous Linzburg punitive squad in the province of Hanover. This squad was detached from Stalag 10C. In the morning following the night I have just described when, after an unsuccessful attempt at escape, we were beaten for three hours running, some of us were kept in the barracks. We then saw the immediate superiors of the commander of the squad; first, an Oberleutnant, whose name I do not know, saw that we were bruised, particularly on our heads, and he considered this to be all right. In the afternoon we went to work. When we returned at 7 o'clock we were visited by a major, a very distinguished looking man, who also found that, as we had tried to escape, it was quite in order that we be punished. As to our complaint, it did not get any further.

Q. Did you know that the German Government had made an agreement with the Vichy Government regarding prisoners of war?

A. Yes, I have heard of that, but they did not inspect squads of this kind.

Q. You mean to say that only the camps were inspected but not the labour squads?

A. There were inspections of the labour squads but not of the punitive squads. That is the difference.

Q. You were not always in a punitive squad, were you?

A. No.

Q. When were you put in a punitive squad?

A. In April 1941, for the first time. It was a squad to which only officer cadets and priests were sent, without any obvious reasons. This was the Linzburg punitive squad, which did not receive any visits. At Ravaruska we received the visit of two Swiss doctors, - I think it was in September 1942.

Q. In September 1942?

A. Yes, in September 1942.

Q. Did you complain to the Swiss doctors?

A. Not I personally, but our spokesman could talk to them.

Q. And were there any results?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Do you not think that a complaint made through the camp commander would have been likewise successful, if you had wished to resort to it?

A. We were not on very friendly terms with the German staff at Ravaruska.

Q. I did not quite understand you.

A. I said we were not on friendly terms with the German commander of the Ravaruska camp.

Q. It is not a question of good terms, but of a complaint which could be made in an official manner. Do you not think so?

When did you leave Ravaruska?

A. At the end of October 1942.

[Page 248]

Q. If I remember rightly, you mentioned the number of victims counted or observed by you, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. How many victims were there?'

A. It was a figure given to me by Dr. Lievin, a French doctor at Ravaruska. There were, as I said, about 60 deaths in the camp itself, to which approximately 100 must be added, who disappeared.

Q. The translation is not coming through.

THE PRESIDENT: Would you be kind enough to repeat the last few statements about the number of victims?

A. Yes. I said that there were about 60 deaths in the Ravaruska camp during the time I was there.

Q. Are you speaking of French victims or in general?

A. When I was at Ravaruska there were only Frenchmen there, a few Poles and a few Belgians.

Q. I am putting this question because the report dated 14 June, 1945, states that the victims were 14 Frenchmen and because we are now speaking of August and September: and in consequence we find that the number is a very high one for the period.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other German counsel want to put any questions to this witness?

(No response)


M. DUBOST: I have finished with this witness, Mr. President. If the Tribunal will permit me, I will now call another witness, the last one.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, M. Dubost. The witness can retire.

Could you tell the Tribunal whether the witness you are about to call is going to give us any evidence of a different nature from the evidence which has already been given? You will remember that we have in the French document, of which we shall take judicial notice - a very large French document - I forget the number - 321, I believe it is - 321 - we have a very large volume of evidence on the conditions in concentration camps. Is the witness you are going to call going to prove anything fresh?

M. DUB0ST: The witness whom we are going to call is to testify to a certain number of experiments which he witnessed. He has even submitted certain documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Are these experiments about which the witness is going to speak all recorded in these, in the book 321?

M. DUBOST: They are referred to, but not reported in detail. Moreover, in view of the importance which, in the French presentation concerning the camps, is being attached to statements of witnesses, I shall curtail considerably the documentary evidence after these witnesses have been heard. On the other hand, Dr. Balachowsky...

THE PRESIDENT: You may call the witness, but try not to let him be too long.

M. DUBOST: I shall do my best, Mr. President.

(Witness takes the stand)

THE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

THE WITNESS: Alfred Balachowsky.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you French?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you take this oath? Do you swear to speak without hate or fear, to say the truth, all the truth, only the truth? Raise your right hand and swear.


THE PRESIDENT: You may sit if you wish.

[Page 249]


Q. Your name is Balachowsky, Alfred B-a-l-a-c-h-o-w-s-k-y?

A. That is correct.

Q. You are head of the Pasteur Institute in Paris?

A. That is correct.

Q. Your residence is Viroflay? You were born 15 August 1909 at Korotcha in Russia?

A. That is correct.

Q. You are French?

A. Yes.

Q. By birth?

A. Russian by birth, French by naturalisation.

Q. When were you naturalised?

A. 1932.

Q. Were you deported on 16 January 1944 after being arrested on 2 July 1943, and after six months in prison first at Frenes then at Compiegne? Were you then transferred to the Dora camp?

A. That is correct.

Q. Can you rapidly tell us what you know about the Dora camp?

A. The Dora camp is situated five kilometres north of the town of Nordhausen, in southern Germany. This camp was considered by the Germans as a secret detachment, which prisoners who were kept there, could never leave.

This secret detachment had as its task the manufacture of V- 1's and V-2's, the reprisal weapons which the Germans launched on England. That is why Dora was a secret detachment. This camp was divided into two parts: one outer part, which included one third of the total number of persons in the camp, and the remaining two-thirds were concentrated in the underground factory. Dora, then, was an underground factory for the manufacture of V-1's and V-2's. I arrived at Dora on the 10 February 1944, coming from Buchenwald.

Q. Please do not speak so fast. You arrived at Dora from Buchenwald on ....?

A . ... on the 10 February 1944 - that is, at a time when life in the Dora camp was particularly hard.

On the 10 February we were loaded, 76 men on a large German lorry. We were forced to crouch down, four SS guards occupying the seats at the front of the lorry. As we could not all crouch down being too many, whenever a man raised his head, he got a blow with a rifle butt, so that in the course of our 10 hours' journey several people were injured.

After our arrival at Dora, we spent a whole day and night without food, in the cold, in the snow, waiting for all the formalities of registration in the camp, completing forms, with surnames, first names, etc.

In comparison with Buchenwald, Dora was a considerable change as the management of the camp Dora was entrusted to a special category of prisoners who were criminals. These criminals were our block leaders, served out our soup, looked after us. Whereas the political prisoners wore red triangular badges, the criminals were marked by green triangular badges stamped with a black S. We called them the "S" men (Sicherheitsverband)., They were people convicted of crimes by German courts before the war, who, instead of being sent home after having served their terms, were kept for life in concentration camps to supervise the other prisoners. Needless to say these criminals who supervised us ...

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast; please slow down.

A. (continuing): These criminals with the green triangles were asocial elements; sometimes they had served 5, 10, even 15 years in prison, and after

[Page 250]

ward, five or ten years in concentration camps. These social outcasts no longer had any hope of ever getting out of the concentration camps. These criminals, however, thanks to the support and Cupertino they were offered by the SS management of the camp, now had the chance of their lives. This meant stealing from and robbing the other prisoners, and obtaining from them the maximum output as demanded by the SS. They beat us from morning till night. We got up at 4 o'clock in the morning and had to be ready within five minutes in the underground dormitories where we were crammed, without ventilation, in foul air in blocks about as large as this room, into which 3,000 or 3,500 internees were crowded. There were five tiers of bunks with rotting straw mattresses. Fresh ones were never issued. We were given five minutes in which to get up, so we went to bed completely dressed. We were hardly able to sleep, for there was a continuous coming and going and all sorts of thefts took place among the prisoners. Furthermore, it was impossible to sleep because we were covered with lice; the whole Dora camp swarmed with vermin. It was virtually impossible to get rid of the lice. In five minutes we had to be in line in the tunnel and ready to march to a given place.

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