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 6 of 9)

[Page 250]

THE PRESIDENT: Just a minute, please.

M. Dubost, you said you were going to call this witness upon experiments. He is now giving us all the details of camp life which we have already heard on several occasions.

M. DUBOST: So far nobody has spoken about the Dora camp, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: But every camp we have heard of has got the same sort of brutalities, has it not, according to the witnesses who have been called?

You were going to call this witness because he was going to deal with experiments.

M. DUBOST: If the Tribunal is convinced that all the camps had the same regime, then my point has been proved and the witness will now testify to the experiments at the Buchenwald camp. However, I wanted to show that in all German camps where people were interned the regime was the same. I think this has now been proved.

THE PRESIDENT: If you were going to prove that, you would have to call a witness from every camp, and there are hundreds of them.

M. DUBOST: This question has to be proved because it is the uniformity of the system which establishes the culpability of these defendants. In every camp there was one responsible person who was the camp commander. We are not trying the camp commander, but the defendants here in the dock and we are trying them for ...

THE PRESIDENT: I have already pointed out to you that there has been practically no cross-examination, and I have asked you to confine this witness, so far as possible, to the question of experiments.

M. DUBOST: The witness will then confine himself to experiments at Buchenwald as this is the Tribunal's wish. The Tribunal will consider the uniformity of treatment in all German internment camps as proved.


Q. Will you now testify to the criminal practices of the SS Medical Corps in the camps, criminal practices in the form of scientific experiments?

A. I was recalled to Buchenwald on the 1st of May, 1944, and assigned to Block 50, which was, in fact, a factory for the manufacture of vaccines against typhus. I was recalled from Dora to Buchenwald, because, in the meantime the management of the camp had learned that I was a specialist in this sort of research, and consequently they wished to utilise my services in Block 50 for the manufacture of vaccines. However, I was unaware of it until the very last moment.

[Page 251]

I came to Block 50 on the 1st of May, 1944, and I stayed there until the liberation of the camp on the 11 April, 1945.

Block 50 was the block where vaccines were manufactured under Sturmbannfuehrer Schuler, who was a doctor with the rank of Sturmbannfuehrer, equal to a Major. He was in charge of the block and was responsible for the manufacture of vaccines. This same SS Sturmbannfuehrer Schuler was also in charge of another block in the Buchenwald camp. This other block was Block 46, the infamous block for experiments, where the internees were utilised as guinea pigs.

Blocks 46 and 50 were both run by one office. There all archives, index cards pertaining to the experiments, all mail, all decisions concerning Block 46, the block for experiments, as well as Block 50, were kept.

The secretary of Block 50 was an Austrian political prisoner, my friend, Eugene Cogol. He and a few other comrades had, consequently, opportunities for looking through all the archives of which they had charge. Therefore they could know, day by day, exactly what went on either in Block 50, our block, or in Block 46. I myself was able to get hold of most of the archives of Block 46 and even the book in which the experiments were recorded has been saved. It is in our possession, and has been forwarded to the Psychological Department of the American Forces.

In this record book, all experiments were entered which were made in Block 46. Block 46 was established in October 1941 by a supreme committee set up by the Health Division of the Waffen SS, and we see as members of its Administrative Council, a certain number of names, as this Block 46 came under the Research Section No. 5 of Leipzig of the Supreme Command of the Waffen SS. Inspector Bougrowski, Obergruppenfuehrer of the Waffen SS, was in charge of this section. The Administrative Council which set up Block 46 was composed of the following members:

Dr. Genzken, Obergruppenfuehrer (the highest rank in the Waffen SS), Dr. Poppendieck, Gruppenfuehrer of the Waffen SS, and also Dr. Handlose of the Wehrmacht and of the Military Academy of Berlin, who was also associated with the establishment of experiments on human beings.

Thus, in the Administrative Council there were members of the SS, and also Dr. Handlose. The experiments proper were carried out by Sturmbannfuehrer Schuler, but all the orders and directives concerning the different types of experiments, which I shall speak about to you, were issued by Leipzig, i.e., by the Research Section of the Waffen SS. So there was no personal initiative on the part of Schuler or the management of the camp.

As to the experiments, all orders came directly from the Supreme Command in Berlin. Among these experiments, which we could follow closely (at least some of them) on the basis of the files, results, registration numbers of people admitted to and discharged from Block 46, were: First, numerous exanthematic typhus experiments. Second, experiments on phosphorus burns. Third, experiments on sexual hormones. Fourth, experiments on starvation oedema or avitaminosis. Fifth, experiments in the field of forensic medicine. So we have five different types of experiments.

Q. Were the people who were subjected to these experiments volunteers or not?

A. The people subjected to experiments were recruited, not only in the Buchenwald camp, but also from outside the camp. They were not volunteers; in most cases they did not know that they would be used for experiments until they entered Block 46. The recruitment took place among the criminals, in order to reduce their large numbers. But the recruitment was also carried out among Russian political prisoners, and I have to point out that among the political prisoners and prisoners of war who were used for experimental purposes in Block 46, the Russians were always in the majority, for the following

[Page 252]

reason: of all the prisoners kept in concentration camps it was the Russians who had the greatest physical resistance, which was obviously superior to that of the French or other people of Western Europe. They resisted hunger and ill- treatment, and, generally speaking, showed physical resistance in every respect. For this particular reason, the Russian political prisoners were recruited in greater numbers than others. However, there were people of other nationalities among them, notably French. I should now like to deal with details of the experiments.

Q. Do not go too much into detail, because we are not specialists. It will suffice us to know that these experiments were carried out without any regard to humanity and under compulsion. Will you please describe to us the atrocious methods of these experiments and their results.

A. The experiments carried out in Block 46 did, without doubt, serve a medical purpose, but not, for the greater part, a scientific one. Therefore, they can hardly be called experiments. The victims were used for checking the effects of drugs, poisons, bacterial cultures, etc. I take as an example the use of vaccine against exanthematic typhus. To manufacture this vaccine it is necessary to have bacterial cultures of typhus. For experiments such as are carried out at the Pasteur Institute and all other similar Institutes in the world, it is not necessary to create these "sources" of supply artificially, as typhus patients can always be found for samples of infected blood. Here it was quite different. From the records and the chart you have in hand, we could ascertain in Block 46 twelve different "sources" of typhus germs, designated by the letter BU, (meaning Buchenwald) and numbered Buchenwald 1 to Buchenwald 12. A constant supply of these twelve "sources" was kept in Block 46 through the contamination of healthy individuals by sick ones. This was achieved by artificial inoculation of typhus germs by means of intravenous injections of 0.5 to 1.00 cubic centimetres of virulent blood drawn from a patient at the height of the crisis. Now, it is well known that artificial inoculation of typhus by intravenous injection is invariably fatal. Therefore all these men, who served as living ground for bacterial cultures during the whole period when germs were required (from October 1942 to the liberation of the camp) died and we counted 600 victims sacrificed for the sole purpose of "supplying" typhus germs.

Q. They were literally murdered to keep typhus germs alive?

A. They were literally murdered to keep typhus germs alive. Apart from these, other experiments were made to the efficacy of vaccines.

Q. What is this document?

A. This document contains a record of the typhus cultures.

Q. This document was taken by you from the camp?

A. Yes, I took this document from the camp, and its contents were summarised by me in the experiment book of Block 46.

Q. Is this the document you handed to me?

A. We have actually made a more complete document - which is in the possession of the American Psychological Division - as we have the entire record, and this represents only one page of it.

M. DUBOST: I ask the Tribunal to take note that the French prosecution submits this document as Exhibit RF 334, as appendix to the testimony of Dr. Balachowsky.

A. (Dr. Balachowsky continuing): In August 1944 experiments were also made on the effects of vaccines. One hundred and fifty men lost their lives in these experiments. The vaccines used by the German Army were not only those manufactured in our Block 46, but also ones which came from Italy, Denmark and Poland, and the Germans wanted to ascertain the value of these different vaccines. Consequently, in August 1944 they began experiments on 150 people who were locked up in Block 46.

[Page 253]

Here, I should like to tell you how this Block 46 was run. It was entirely isolated and surrounded by barbed wire. The internees had no roll call and no permission to go out. All the windows were kept closed, the panes were of frosted glass. No unauthorised person could enter the block. A German political prisoner was in charge of the block. This German political prisoner was Kapo Dietzsch, an asocial individual who had been in prisons and camps for 20 years and who worked for the SS. It was he who made the injections and the inoculations and who executed people upon order. Extraordinarily enough, there were arms in the block, automatic pistols, and hand grenades, to quell any possible uprisings whether from outside or inside the block. I can also tell you that the order slip submitted for Block 46 sent to the office at Block 50 in January 1945 mentioned three strait jackets to deal with those who refused to be inoculated.

Now I come back to the typhus and vaccine experiment. You can picture how they were carried out.

The 150 prisoners were divided into two groups: the "controls" and the subjects. Only the latter received (ordinary) injections of the different types of vaccines to be tested. The "controls" did not get any injections. After the vaccination of the subjects they inoculated (always by means of intravenous injections) everybody selected for this experiment, controls as well as subjects. The controls died about two weeks after the inoculation - as such is approximately the period required before the disease develops to its fatal issue. As for the others, who received different kinds of vaccines, their deaths were in proportion to the efficacy of the vaccine administered to them. Some vaccines had excellent results, with a very low death rate- such was the case with the Polish vaccines. Some others had a much higher death rate. After the conclusion of the experiments, no survivors were to be left alive, according to the custom prevailing in Block 46. All the survivors of the experiment were "liquidated" and murdered in Block 46, by the customary methods which some others of my comrades have already described to you, i.e. intracardiac injections of phenol. The intracardiac injection of 10 cubic centimetres of pure phenol was the usual system in Buchenwald.

THE PRESIDENT: The Russian translation is not coming through. Can you repeat what you said about the survivors being killed by intracardiac injections?

A. I repeat that those who did not die as a result of the experiments in Block 46 were not allowed to survive, according to the prevailing habits and customs. Once an experiment was concluded, the survivors were murdered. They were done away with by the methods customary at Buchenwald, as already described by some of my comrades.


Q. Will you go more slowly, please? I think the interpreters are having difficulty.

A. In Buchenwald the liquidation was carried out by intracardiac injections of pure phenol in doses of ten cubic centimetres.

THE PRESIDENT: We are not really concerned here with the proportion of the particular injections.

THE WITNESS: Will you repeat that please?

THE PRESIDENT: As I have said, we are not concerned with the proportions in which these injections were given, and will you kindly not deal with these details?

M. Dubost, you must try and confine the witness.

A. (continuing) Then I will speak of other details which may interest you. They are experiments of a psychotherapeutic nature, utilisation of chemical products to cure typhus, the conditions in Block 46 being always the same. The German industries co-operated in these experiments, notably the I.G.

[Page 254]

Farben Industrie which supplied a certain number of drugs to be used for experiments in Block 46. Among the professors who supplied the drugs knowing that they would be used in Block 46 for experimental purposes, was Professor Lautenschlager of Frankfurt.

So much for the typhus question. I now come to experiments with phosphorus, made particularly on internees of Russian origin. These phosphorus burns were inflicted in Block 46 on Russian internees for the following reason: certain bombs, dropped in Germany by the Allied aviators, caused burns on the civilians and soldiers, which were difficult to heal. Consequently, the Germans tried to find a whole series of suitable drugs to hasten the cicatrisation of the wounds and sores caused by these burns. Thus, experiments were carried out in Block 46, on Russian prisoners who were artificially burned with phosphorus products, and then treated with different drugs supplied by the German chemical industry.

Now as to experiments on sexual hormones.


Q. What were the results of these experiments?

A. All these experiments resulted in death.

Q. Always in death? So each experiment is equivalent to a murder for which the SS are collectively responsible?

A. For which are responsible those who established this institution.

Q. That is the SS as a whole, and the German medical corps in particular?

A. Definitely so, as the orders came from the research Section No. 5. The SS were responsible, as the orders were issued by this section at Leipzig and, therefore, came from the Supreme Command of the Waffen SS.

Q. Thank you. What were the results of the experiments made on sexual hormones?

A. They were less serious. Besides, these were ridiculous experiments from the scientific point of view. There were, at Buchenwald, a number of homosexuals, that is to say, men who had been convicted by German tribunals for this vice. These homosexuals were sent to concentration camps, especially to Buchenwald, and were mixed with the other prisoners.

Q. Especially with so-called political prisoners, who in reality were patriots?

A. With all kinds of prisoners.

Q. All were in the company of these German inverts?

A. Yes. They were designated with a pink triangle.

Q. Was the wearing of this triangle a well-established custom, or on the contrary, was there much confusion in the classification?

A. At the very beginning, before my arrival, from what I heard, there was some order with respect to triangular badges, but when I arrived at Buchenwald, in January of 1944, there was the greatest confusion in the badges, and many prisoners wore no badge at all.

Q. Or did they wear badges of a category different from their own?

A. Yes, this was the case with many Frenchmen, who were sent to Buchenwald because they were ordinary criminals, and who finally wore the red triangle of political prisoners.

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