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 8 of 9)

[DR. KAUFFMANN continues his cross examination of the witness Alfred Balachowsky]

[Page 259]

Q. Do you know whether people who received leave, that is, inmates who temporarily were permitted to leave the camp, were allowed to speak about their experiences within the camp and relate these experiences to the outside world?

A. All the concentration camps were, after all, vast transit- camps. The inmates were constantly being exchanged and replaced, passing from one camp to another, coming and going. Consequently there were always new faces. But most of the time these prisoners were, apart from those whom we knew before or after our arrest, strangers, and generally we knew nothing about those who came and went.

Q. Perhaps I did not express myself clearly. I meant the following:

From time to time, as you said before, political inmates were permitted to leave the camp temporarily. Did these inmates know about these excesses, and if they did know were they permitted to speak about these experiments in the rest of Germany?

A. The political prisoners (very few and all of German nationality) who had obtained leave were prisoners whom the SS had entrusted with important posts in the camp and who had been imprisoned for at least ten years in the camp. This was the case, for instance, of Karl, the Kapo, the head of the canteen of the Buchenwald camp, the canteen of the Waffen SS, who had the responsibility for the canteen, and who was given a fortnight's leave to visit his family at home in the town of Zeitz. Consequently the "Kapo" was free for these two weeks and was able to tell of anything he wished, but I do not know, of course, whether he so did. Evidently he had to be careful. In any case, the prisoners who were allowed to leave the camp were old prisoners, as I have said, who knew approximately everything that was going on, including the experiments.

Q. Now I come to my last question. If I assume that the people whom you have just described told anything to members of their families, even on the pledge of secrecy, and the leadership of the camp was informed of these indiscretions, do you not believe that the death penalty might have been incurred?

A. If there were indiscretions of this kind on the part of the family (for such indiscretions may be repeated among one's circle of acquaintances) or at least, if these indiscretions came to the knowledge of the SS, it is obvious that these prisoners risked the death penalty.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any other defence counsel who wants to ask any questions?

DR. BABEL (defence counsel for the SS and the SD): I protest against the declaration that I tried to confuse witnesses with my questions. I am not here to worry about the good opinion or otherwise of the press, but to do my duty as a defence attorney ...

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast.

DR. BABEL (Continuing) ... and I am of the opinion that things should not be complicated through the interference of any one here - not even the Press.

This war has brought me so much misfortune and sorrow that I have no reason to vindicate anyone who was responsible for our unhappy fate or the misfortune that fell on all our people ...

[Page 260]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly resume your seat?

DR. BABEL (Continuing): . . . anyone who is guilty in this respect, and I will not try to prevent any such person from receiving his proper punishment. I am only concerned with helping the Tribunal to determine the truth so that just sentences may be pronounced, and that innocent people may not be condemned.

THE PRESIDENT: I said kindly resume your seat. It is not fit for you to make a speech. You have been making a speech, as I understand it; this is not the occasion for it.

DR. BABEL: I find it necessary because I was not protected against the Prosecution's reproach.

(Dr. Babel starts to resume his seat.)

THE PRESIDENT: One moment; come back.

(Dr. Babel comes before the microphone again.)

I do not know what you mean about not being protected. Listen to me. I do not know what you mean by not being protected against the Prosecution. The Prosecution called this witness, and the defendants' counsel had the fullest opportunity to cross-examine, and we understood you came before the Tribunal for the purpose of cross-examining the witness. I do not understand your protest.

DR. BABEL: Your Honour, unfortunately I do not know the court procedure customary in England, America and other countries. According to the German penal code and the German trial regulations it is customary for unjustified and unfounded attacks of this kind made against a participant of the trial, to be rejected by the presiding Judge. I therefore expected that perhaps this would be done here too, but when it did not happen I was occasioned to ...

If by so doing, I violated the rules of court procedure, I ask to be excused.

THE PRESIDENT: What unjust accusations are you referring to?

DR. BABEL: The prosecuting Attorney implies that I put questions to the witnesses calculated to confuse them, in order to prevent the witnesses from testifying in a proper manner. This is an accusation against the defence which is an insult to us, at least to myself - I do not know what position other defence counsels will take.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid I do not understand what you mean.

DR. BABEL: Your Honour, I am sorry. But I think I cannot convince you, as you probably do not know this aspect of German mentality, for our German regulations are entirely different. I do not wish to reproach our President in any way. I merely wanted to point out that I consider this accusation unjust and that I reject it.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr Babel, I understand you are saying that the Prosecuting Attorney said something to you? Now, what is it you say the Prosecuting Attorney said to you?

DR. BABEL: The Prosecuting Attorney said that I wanted to confuse witnesses by my way of questioning, and, in my opinion that means that I am doing something improper. I am not here to confuse witnesses, but to assist the Court to find the truth, and this cannot be done by confusing the witnesses.

THE PRESIDENT: I understand now. I do not think that the Prosecuting Attorney meant to make accusations against your professional conduct at all. If that is only what you wish to say, I quite understood the point you wish to make. Do you want to ask this witness any questions?

DR. BABEL: Yes, I have one question.

Q. You testified that weapons, fifty guns, if I understood correctly, were brought into either Block 46 or 50. Who brought these weapons in?

A. We the prisoners, brought and hid them.

[Page 261]

Q. For what purpose?

A. To save our skins.

Q. I did not understand you.

A. I said that we hid these guns because we meant to sell our lives dearly at the last moment - that is, to defend ourselves to the death rather than be exterminated as were most of our comrades in the camps, with flame-throwers and machine guns. In that case we would have defended ourselves with the guns we had hidden.

Q. You said "we prisoners"; who were these prisoners?

A. The internees inside the camp.

Q. What internees?

A. We, the political prisoners.

Q. In the main they were supposed to have been German?

A. They were of all nationalities. Unknown to the SS, there was an international secret defence organisation with shock battalions in the camp.

Q. There were German inmates who wanted to help you?

A. German prisoners also belonged to these shock battalions - German political prisoners, and in particular former German Communists who had been imprisoned for ten years, and who were of great help towards the end.

Q. Very well, that is what I wanted to know. Then with the exception of the criminals who wore the green triangle, you and the other inmates, even those of German origin, were on friendly terms and helped each other; is that right?

A. The question of the "greens" did not arise, because the SS evacuated the "greens" in the last few days before the liberation of the camps. They exterminated most of them; in any case they left the camp, and we do not know what became of them. No doubt some are still hiding among the German population.

Q. My question did not refer to the green-marked prisoners but to your relations with the German political prisoners.

A. The political prisoners, whether they were German, French, Russian, Dutch, Belgian or from Luxembourg, formed inside the camp secret shock battalions which took up arms at the last minute, and co-operated in the liberation of the camp. The arms that were hidden came from the Guslow armament factories which were located near the camp. These arms were stolen by the workers employed in this factory, who every day brought back with them either a butt hidden in their clothes, or a gun-barrel, or a breach. And, in secret, with much difficulty, the guns were assembled from the different pieces and hidden. These were the guns we used in the last days of the camp.

DR. BABEL: Thank you. I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other German counsel wish to ask questions? Have you any questions, M. Dubost?

M. DUBOST I have no further questions, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT Then the witness can retire.

M. DUBOST These two days of testimony will obviate my reading the documents any further, since it seems established in the eyes of the Tribunal, that the excesses, ill-treatment, and crimes which our witnesses described to you occurred repeatedly and were identical in all the camps; and therefore are evidence of a higher will originating in the Government itself, a systematic will of extermination and terror under which all occupied Europe had to suffer.

Therefore I shall only submit to you, without reading them, the documents we have gathered and confine myself to a brief analysis whenever they might give you ...

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, you understand, of course, that the Tribunal is satisfied with the evidence which it has heard up to date, but, of course it is

[Page 262]

expecting to hear evidence or possibly may hear evidence from the defendants, and it naturally will suspend its judgement until it has heard the evidence and, as I pointed out to you, yesterday, I think, under Article 24E of the Charter you will have the opportunity of applying to the Tribunal, if you think it right, to call rebuttal evidence in answer to any evidence which the defendants may call. All I mean to indicate to you now is that the Tribunal is not making up its mind at the present moment. It will wait until it has heard the evidence for the defence.

M. DUBOST: I think that the evidence we submitted in the form of testimony during these two days constitutes an essential part of our accusation. It will allow us to shorten considerably the presentation of our documents, of which we shall simply submit an analysis or very brief extract.

We stopped at the description of the prisoner's transports and under what conditions they were transported, when we started calling our witnesses.

In order to establish who, among the defendants, are those particularly responsible for these transports, I present Document UK 56, signed by Jodi and ordering the deportation of Jews from Denmark. It will appear among the documents as Exhibit RF 335.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you had better put your earphones on, I have here two books before me, one of which ...

M. DUBOST: It is in the first book of documents.

THE PRESIDENT: On the deportation?

M. DUBOST: That is right, on deportation.

THE PRESIDENT: When were these books handed out? Because apparently the United States members of the Tribunal ....

M. DUBOST: They were handed to you on Saturday(*) Mr. President.

[(*) NB. The French transcript reads "Saturday". As the Court did not sit on Saturday, M. Dubost must mean "Friday" since there was a recess from Friday 25 January 1700 hrs to Monday 28 January 1000 hrs.]

I now continue presenting a question which was interrupted on Saturday(*see above) when the session was suspended at 1700 hours. This Document UK 56 is a telegram transmitted "en clair" with the mention " Secret Document." It is the eighth in the first book. Its second paragraph reads as follows: "The deportation of Jews ..." It is the eighth in your first book.


M. DUBOST: If the Tribunal thinks that our secretary interpreter can be of help in finding the documents ...


M. DUBOST: The second paragraph: "The deportation of Jews must be undertaken by the Reichsfuehrer SS, who will send two battalions to Denmark for this purpose.

For authorisation:

Signed: JODL."

Here we have the carrying out of a political act by a military organisation or at least by a leader belonging to a military organisation: The German General Staff. This charge therefore affects both Jodi and the German General Staff.

We have submitted as Exhibit RF 324 in the Saturday (*see above) afternoon session an extract from the report of the Dutch Government. The Tribunal will find in this report a passage concerning the transport of Dutch Jews detained in Westerbork - which I quote: On the first page, second paragraph ...

THE PRESIDENT: Is that in the same book?

M. DUBOST: In the same book, Mr. President.

[Page 263]

THE PRESIDENT: What Number? 324?

M. DUBOST: 224-F which has become Exhibit RF 324 after having been filed.

It is an extract from the report of the Dutch Government, Paragraphs 2 and 3....

"All Dutch Jews seized by the Germans were assembled at the camp of Westerbork" - Paragraph 3 - "little by little all prisoners of Westerbork were deported to Poland."

Is it necessary to recall the consequences of these transports (carried out in the conditions described to you), when three witnesses have come to tell you that each time the cars were opened numerous corpses had first to be taken out before a few survivors could be found?

The French Document 115 which is the report of Professor Charles Richest will also be found in your first document book No. 115, the thirteenth in your document book, Page 6. Professor Richest repeats what our witnesses have said, that the deportees were -

THE PRESIDENT: What paragraph?

M. DUBOST: Last paragraph, Page 6. - There were 75 to 120 deportees in a car. In every transport men died. Arriving in Buchenwald from Compiegne, after an average trip of 60 hours, at least 25 per cent of the men had succumbed. This testimony corroborates those of Blaha, Madame Vaillant Couturier and Professor Dupont.

Blaha's testimony appears in your document book as Document 3249-PS. It is the second statement of Blaha, the second document in your book. We have heard Blaha. I do not think it necessary to re-read what he has already stated to us.


M. DUBOST: A horribly infamous transport was that to Dachau, during the months of August and September 1944, when numerous trains which had left France, generally from the camps in Brittany, arrived in that camp with four to five hundred dead out of about two thousand men per train. We have this information from Document 140-F, which is in your first document book. The first page of this document states - and I quote so as not to have to return to it again - in the fourth paragraph which deals with Auschwitz: "About seven million persons died in this camp." This is Page 5 of your document book, second to last paragraph, in the middle, Document 406, which it is not necessary to submit, after the testimony that was given; it only repeats the conditions under which the transports were made and which Madame Vaillant Couturier has described to you.

Document 174, Page 16, indicates that in the train of the 2 of July, 1944, which left from Compiegne, men went mad and fought with each other and that more than 600 of them died between Compiegne and Dachau. It is with this train that Document 83-F deals - I repeat 83-F, which we submit as Exhibit RF 337, and which reads in the minutes of Dr. Louviers: Rheims, 12 February 1945. - (Page 5 of Document 83- F, in the first document book) - which indicates that these prisoners - (it is the fourteenth document in your first document book) - by the time they reached Rheims -

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