Attorney General: We shall come to that later. You provided
Witness Beilin And para-medical, as they called it in the
Q. ….to people entrusted to your care?
A. That is correct.
Q. How many were there in your group of doctors?
A. Where, in the clinic?
Q. Yes, in the clinic.
A. In the clinic, we were about twelve to fifteen doctors,
in the B-II-D, that is to say, in the Abschnitt I (Section
1), where I worked in Birkenau.
Q. Did diseases, epidemics, occur? If so, which ones?
A. In B-II-D, first of all there was typhus. This plague was
never suppressed. There were merely chance fluctuations, as
manifested in the decline or increase in the number of those
stricken. But this plague, I would say, was endemic – it was
never completely eliminated. There were instances of
diarrhoea; the diarrhoea was the outcome of undernourishment
and of pollution. We could not make any laboratory tests and
we were unable to distinguish whether any case of diarrhoea
was due to pollution or undernourishment. But opium, which
was the most valuable drug in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, since
it immediately halted the diarrhoea and enabled the infected
patient to absorb some food and liquids – this remedy was
not available. It was more costly than life itself – opium,
twenty drops of opium.
After that there was scabies. Obviously there, too, was a
radical cure – rubbing the body twice or three times with
this medicament would cause the scabies to disappear, but
this medicament, the well-known preparation “Mitigal” made
by I.G. Farben, of Bayer, was not obtainable.
Q. Were there cases of suicide amongst the prisoners?
A. Yes; here, again, I have to distinguish between one group
and the other. West European Jewry, which was not immunized
against hatred, had enjoyed complete equality of rights –
the Dutch, for example. They could not understand, at all,
what was happening here – people were being killed simply
because of there being Jews? “I have not done anything.”
Q. Do you recall a particular conversation with a Dutch
Presiding Judge: Are you a general practitioner, Dr. Beilin?
Witness Beilin I am a specialist for infectious diseases. I
was the deputy director of the department of infectious
diseases in the Bialystok hospital – afterwards in the
Bialystok Ghetto. I was transferred with the same title and
the same function. Once a Dutch doctor came to us.
Attorney General: A Jew?
Witness Beilin Yes. A Jew. This Doctor was a newcomer. In
other words he had just arrived, from Westerbork, I believe,
and he asked me: “Tell me, colleague, when will I see my
wife and children?” I asked him: “What is the reason for
asking this question?” He replied to me: “Those who were on
the ramp at Birkenau told me that persons who were fit for
work were going to a separate camp, and the women and
children were going to a separate camp where they would
receive better treatment. Two weeks later there would be a
meeting to enable them to be reunited for a certain period
with their families.” And he asked me when this meeting
would take place and how it would be arranged.
Q. And you told him that there would be no meetings with
A. I told him the truth and afterwards I was sorry.
Q. What did he say to you?
A. He said to me: “No wonder the Germans accuse the Jews of
spreading atrocity tales. What you have told me is quite
impossible.” I showed him the crematorium which was about
three hundred meters from our camp, and I asked him: “Do you
see that building? What is it?” He said to me: “That is a
bakery.” It was a building constructed of red bricks.
Q. Did he consequently commit suicide?
A. I met him by chance about a fortnight later. He called
me. I wanted to avoid this encounter – I saw him from a
distance. When he approached me it was most unpleasant for
me. He said to me: “Colleague – you were right. This is
murder.” Afterwards I learned from his Dutch friends that he
committed suicide by thrusting himself – and this was the
typical method in the Birkenau camp – on to the barbed-wire
fence with its high tension electrical current.
Q. They used to run to the barbed-wire fence?
A. Yes. They used to say “Er ging auf den Draht” (“He went
on to the barbed-wire”). That was the technical term for
Q. Were the Jews of Eastern Europe more conditioned and less
inclined to suicide?
A. Yes. They had a powerful urge to live – whoever could at
least cope with the physical suffering, such as hunger,
beatings and the diseases. I noticed that where you had the
same types of Jew, in the same physical circumstances, under
the same physical conditions, in other words, of the same
age, with the same external appearance and in a similar
state of nourishment, if the two of them contracted the same
illness with the same virulence, you could see that if one
of them was a West European Jew and the other a East
European Jew, the one did not want to live and fled. We
called it “Die Flucht in den Tod” (“The flight into death”).
At the same time the second one would recover, he would
miraculously recover; he was endowed with a powerful will to
live and the quintessence of this will to live was to be
able one day to take vengeance.
I must say this here, explicitly. In the “Sauna” when I was
still in quarantine and when we were taken to do all sorts
of work, I discovered – in the “Sauna” – all kinds of
sentences, verses from the Bible, on the walls. I remember
these sayings, and they were in various languages, I
remember a saying from Dante: “Abandon hope – all ye that
enter here.” I remember the Hebrew sentence: “Avenge ye the
blood of your brothers that has been spilt.” I remember a
sentence in Yiddish: “Yidden, fargest nisht – nekome” (Jews,
do not forget – revenge). I remember a phrase which must
have been written either by an educated Polish Jew, or by a
Polish prisoner. It was a quotation from Mickiewicz from the
“Improvisation”. There is a passage there: “Vengeance,
vengeance, vengeance on the enemy – with God and even
without God.” This I saw in Polish; since I had graduated
from a Polish gymnasium and university, this was close to my
When I was in the Gypsies’ camp – and we shall come to that
later on, but there is a link with it here – a poem was
smuggled to me. For me that was a sign that a group existed
which was still capable of writing poems, an organized,
underground group. This poem was in Polish. Only the last
verse and the title I retain in my memory. It was a long
poem. The title was: “They send us out to work and to
death.” It referred to the Aussenkommandos (external units)
those who went out from the camp to labour, and each time
brought back with them dead bodies with the pretext “Auf der
Flucht erschossen” (shot while trying to escape).
Your Honours, please forgive me, perhaps I am disgressing
from the subject, but I want it to be known, for I myself
have never published it and I have never come across this
poem in any book that has been published, so far, about the
Holocaust. I shall translate this into Hebrew, as it is
written in Polish. The title was “To death – people are
being deported from the camp, to the field, to the field.”
(That is the literal translation.)
The last verse says the following: “Monsters and Barbarians,
so that the world might forget you, we shall remove all
traces of you. And on your graves we shall erect a sphinx
that will eternally cry out: “Links, Links, Links.” Because
in the march in Auschwitz, from morning to evening, it was
always “Links, zwei, drei, vier, links, zwei, drei, vier,
links, links, links” (left, two, three four, left, two,
three, four, left, left, left). That was the verse that
referred to “links”.
Naturally this poem was exceedingly popular. The Political
Department searched and apparently somehow got hold of a
copy of this poem and searched for those responsible, but
could not find them.
Presiding Judge: What was this “Political Department”?
Witness Beilin The Political Department was – I can talk of
two commandos. There was the Kommando der politischen
Aufnahmeschreiber (The Political Unit for the Registration
of Arrivals) – those who carried out the work of tattooing
and registration when a new transport arrived at Birkenau.
These were prisoners who worked under the supervision of one
of the SS. And he was always a non-commissioned officer, an
Unteroffizier. The Political Department – not the “Kommando
der politischen Aufnahmeschreiber” was the department that
kept watch in the camps, searched for communists, for
propaganda, and on the pretext of this search they sought
out all kinds of victims.
Q. That is to say an investigation department?
A. Yes. They had female or male clerks, but these clerks
were prisoners who did forced labour. I even remember two of
the names of people of the Political Department in the
Gypsies’ camp. There was one whose name was Peter Braut who
was born in the Argentine, joined the Nazis and came to
Germany. He was of German origin. The other was Hofmann.
Hofmann was a German from Belgrade. These two sat in the
Gypsies’ camp, in the Political Department, and I remember
them as if it were today.
Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, what was this manifestation of
Muselmannn from the medical and psychological point of view?
Witness Beilin “Muselmannn” was a word that originated in
Auschwitz. It was the stage…
Presiding Judge: I think we have already heard about this
from the Kovno Ghetto, if I am not mistaken. Dr. Peretz told
us about it, if I remember correctly.
Witness Beilin The condition of Muselmannn was the final
stage of malnutrition. It is interesting that the first
symptom of such a man, when he begins to enter the stage of
being a Muselmann – and that is a psychological
manifestation – is when he begins to talk about food. There
were two things about which prisoners did not talk about
amongst themselves in Auschwitz – it was a kind of taboo:
the crematorium and food. Food, because as a conditioned
reflex, it caused the discharge of oxygen in the stomach and
increased the appetite. So one had to exercise self-control
and not speak about food.
The moment a man lost his self-control and began remembering
the good food he used to get at home in better times, this
kind of talk was called Muselmann talk. And that was the
first stage – we knew that in a day or two he would already
be entering the second stage. In other words, there was not
such a sharp division – at any rate he would stop reacting,
he would stop taking an interest in his surroundings, he
would also stop receiving orders and responding to them. His
movements would be slow, his face would be like a mask, he
would have no control over his bowels. That meant that he
would relieve himself wherever he was. He would not even
turn himself over from side to side of his own accord. He
would lie there. And in this way he entered the state of
being a Muselmann. He was simply a skeleton on swollen
legs. And when they wanted to drag such a person from the
block to the parade-ground, so that he should stand there,
they would place him forcibly against the wall, with
upraised arms, with his face to the wall for him to lean on.
He was simply a skeleton with a grey face who was standing
against the wall, swaying from side to side, since he had no
sense of equilibrium. That was the typical Muselmann who was
subsequently taken away by the Leichenkommando (Dead Bodies
Unit) together with the dead bodies.
Attorney General: when some disease, taking on the form of
an epidemic, broke out, what happened to the block?
Witness Beilin That was the famous “Epidemie-Bekaempfung”
(Combatting Epidemics) in Birkenau. The SS doctors were not
familiar – generally speaking they evidently did not even
recognize – the infectious diseases connected with a rash,
with eczema. Nor were they always able to diagnose them. For
them this rash was either scarlatina or typhus. And the
moment it broke out in the block – and there were six to
eight hundred men in this block – this determined the fate
of the entire block. And this was called the Epidemie-
Bekaempfung, that is a campaign, a war against epidemics.
And this whole block was put to death, since it was a
carrier of potential germs, that is to say the germs
together with their potential carriers.
Q. When did the first Gypsies arrive at Auschwitz?
A. In September 1944, we, eighteen Jewish doctors were
chosen by Dr. Helmersen; thereafter one hundred and eighty
Poles were added to our number – amongst them thirty to
thirty-five doctors, the remainder were medical orderlies
and administrative personnel. We were sent out from B-II-D
to an empty camp, the purpose of which we did not know.
Q. In what year was this?
A. In 1943, September. In the evening transports of Gypsies
began arriving in civilian clothing, with children, women
and elderly persons, in their coloured scarfs and with
musical instruments. They entered the camp to the sound of
music, singing and chanting. And in the course of three to
four days the camp filled up to its full capacity, that is
to say, eighteen thousand people.
Presiding Judge: All of them Gypsies?
Witness Beilin All of them Gypsies. Naturally amongst these
Gypsies there were also blond types with blue eyes. Either
they were offspring of mixed marriages, where the wife did
not want to part from her husband, or they were the second
generation. At any rate we had blond gypsy men and women.
Attorney General: What country did they come from?
Witness Beilin They came from Czechoslovakia, Poland,
Belgium, France and Luxembourg.
A. And Germany. They did not come from Romania or Hungary.
Presiding Judge: Why was that? These were actually Gypsy
Witness Beilin There was an explanation for that. I do not
know if it was a fact, but the Gypsies themselves said that
in Hungary, the Hungarian nobility was very much mixed up
with the Gypsies and hence the Hungarian Government did not
agree to deport the Gypsies. This was, of course, only a
conjecture; I don’t know how much truth there was in that.
Attorney General: You were entrusted, together with other
doctors, with the medical treatment of the Gypsies?
Witness Beilin Yes. Together with Polish doctors and
eighteen Jewish doctors, eight of whom died in the course of
time. Amongst them was one woman doctor who now lives in New
York, a German Jewess, who was brought from Holland, from