Hearing resumed after a break
Presiding Judge: – I hereby resume the trial. Call witness Bronicki.
Florian Bronicki, 39 years old, physician, residing in Inowrocław, unrelated to the parties.
Presiding Judge: – Please inform the court what you know regarding the case.
Witness: – I can report solely on my activity as a member of the medical commission working at Skaryszewska Street, in the Dulag, as it was called. Having been expelled from Inowrocław, mid-March, I registered with the Chamber of Physicians, as well as with the Employment Agency for Physicians, operating within the Chamber, where I reported to Dr. Strohal. He assigned me to the Skaryszewska camp, submitting a recommendation letter to Dr. Gromski.
Presiding Judge: – How long did the witness work at the Skaryszewska camp?
Witness: – The first examination was held on 30 March 1940. I worked there until 17 August 1943, that is, until I was arrested in relation to falsifying medical test results and to an assault on a medical commission member.
Presiding Judge: – What was the medical examination procedure like in the Dulag?
Witness: – Anyone, whether caught during a roundup or reporting on their own, having been summoned by the Labor Office, was referred to the baths. The aim of this was to proceed with the disinfection and hygiene. The following day, they underwent a medical examination, conducted by a commission comprised of three German doctors and one German chairman. Initially, there were quite a few Polish doctors working there. Altogether, in the beginning, there were about 30 of them, as Dr. Strohal referred all who had been expelled to the Skaryszewska camp. It was Dr. Gromski who was drawing up the commission’s composition. It was already then that he informed me that, as a venereologist, I would rarely participate in examinations. I was first called up on 30 March 1940. On that day, the medical commission was chaired by Dr. Strohal.
Doctors’ salaries were laughable. Advance payments amounting to eight, fifteen or twenty zlotys. Dr. Koszelińska, who worked there for the longest period, would receive advance payments for two months amounting to twenty-eight zlotys. This resulted in substantial resentment. Doctors began to depart to the provinces. Finally, a regular commission established itself. It included Dr. Dudzińska, an oculist, Dr. Koszelińska, an internist, and myself as venereologist. The commission was chaired by a German doctor.
Dr. Koszelińska, Dr. Dudzińska and myself got into several verbal altercations.
The husband of Dr. Koszelińska had been friends with Dr. Strohal for a few years in middle school in Lwów. It was Strohal who referred her to the commission, which made her influential. Being aware of that support and having a responsible function supervising other members, Koszelińska started to carp at us over our allegedly far-fetched diagnoses. It was especially so with regard to Dr. Dudzińska, an oculist, who generated numerous [exemptions] for patients suffering from trachoma. The allegations were justified. Once, in the presence of an official, an intense discussion on Polish-Ukrainian relations in Lwów broke out between the two. As a result of this fervent exchange of opinions, Dr. Dudzińska was dismissed. On that occasion, I was warned by Dr. Gromski, as ordered by Dr. Schrempf, the district doctor, that no political discussion was to be held during examinations. Dr. Dudzińska was replaced by a Ukrainian doctor [no name in the document].
Examinations took place nearly every day. Quarrels between Dr. Koszelińska and myself had become more and more common as she criticized my venereological diagnoses.
At any rate, in the beginning, exemptions were easily made, since no additional examination was conducted. If an examinee claimed to suffer from tuberculosis or syphilis, and had a suitable appearance, they were easily exempt. All the more so because the Reich didn’t need that much manpower at that time. This changed soon. Dr. Fiele, Dr. Schrempf’s deputy, who later came to be the main doctor of an assurance association in Warsaw, introduced additional medical tests. For instance, urinalysis, sed rate, roentgenography, the Wasserman test, etc. The results of the tests were subsequently made known to the commission.
The situation was gradually becoming more difficult. The first altercation took place in June 1940 after a repatriation transport arrived from the Bug river region. These people arrived in Warsaw after several months of exile. They were not released, but taken to the Skaryszewska camp, instead. The Gestapo appeared and took former civil servants and police officers. The rest went through medical examinations and were to be deported to the Reich. Therefore, two medical commissions were convened. One was chaired by Dr. Vieweg, and the other by Dr. Herback, whom I had met in previous commission sittings. He appeared to me a dangerous man, very hostile toward us. So I knew I wasn’t at much liberty. However, I managed to intervene in two cases when things went too far. Namely, an 18- or 19-year-old boy with hip- joint tuberculosis was deemed fit [for work]. And a second case, that of a fifty-something man with cardiovascular disease who was deemed fit for work as well. I decided to put a stop to it. I took it to my colleague, who worked in the other commission, and asked him to destroy the opinion document from our commission and replace it with a new one, referring to a second examination, during which the patient would likely be exempt. It worked. However, after a while, one of the officials, a certain Mr. Łukomski, as well as the official who had the dubious honor of assisting our commission, were detained. We never heard back from them.
My situation in this international circle was worsening. I say international because there was one Ukrainian, a certain Koszelska [Koszelińska], ferociously hostile towards Poles, Dr. Jewsiejenko, rather favorable, and the Germans, with various approaches toward us. Some were indifferent whereas others even harassed us and tried to maximize the number of those deported. It was getting worse. And then all commission members received a letter with the following header: Generalgouvernement Chef des Distrikt Warschau. It was signed by the chief doctor of the Labor Office in Kraków and by Dr. Kamiński as District Arzt in Warsaw. I can read out the letter: ‘Regarding farming labor. While examining Polish farming workers in order for them to be sent the Reich on 15 May 1940, seven examinees, previously examined by you, were deemed not fit for work and sent back from the Reich.’ Then there were the names of said examinees: one afflicted with tuberculosis, another one with external fistula. The final paragraph reads as follows: ‘It is assuredly possible to avoid instances of missing symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis or a heart defect. Said sufferings are readily betrayed by such external phenomena as torsion, deformity, fistulas and suchlike. Therefore, they must not be missed. Consequently, utmost caution is advised in order to avoid the issue of regress.’ From that moment on, I was armed with this document, which I would take out of my wallet if a chairman was acting to the detriment of an examinee. I would point out that we were responsible for sending healthy people and ask that our opinions be taken into consideration. This went on until roughly mid-1940.
As the demand for farming labor in Germany rose, we were given new instructions and the rules became more restricted. When it comes to myself, I would like to underline several facts. My work was hard, unpleasant and probably frowned upon by some.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – I urge you to ask the Witness questions. You are largely talking about yourself, Doctor, whereas we would like to know more about forced labor.
Presiding Judge: – How many people were examined approximately?
Witness: – It is difficult to say. I conducted a series of statistics, but obviously all papers perished in the Uprising. In 1940, it was usually several tens of thousands of patients, and later, adding up all repeated examinations, 220, 230 and 250 thousand people.
Presiding Judge: – Were these people coming from the Labor Office, that is, were they referred by the Labor Office?
Witness: – Some were summoned by the Labor Office, as there was an obligation to register for all men and women within a certain age range. But usually very few answered the summons. Then, there was a voluntary element, comprised of qualified workers who believed in the German propaganda and reported themselves to be transported within the Reich. 70- 75, up to 80 percent were recruited during roundups in Warsaw and in the Warsaw district.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – To whom did your medical commission report?
Witness: – Officially, it was a part of the Labor Office. Dr. [Werner] Kroll was the head of medical care for the entire Government, then there was the district doctor, District Arzt, depending on the case.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – I am mostly interested in knowing if it reported to the medical center of the district or rather to the Stadthauptmann of Warsaw.
Witness: – It is difficult to say. Basically, it was an annex of the Labor Office.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – We have heard about various approaches that German doctors had. But what was the general approach apart from the one described in the document that you read, Doctor? Was the aim to have as many Poles undertake forced labor as possible?
Witness: – During the first period, farm workers were the most needed. The medical commission was not responsible for protecting Polish people, God forbid, but for protecting the Reich from infectious diseases that many of them greatly feared.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – So this was a result of looking after patients’ health?
Witness: – Quite the opposite. I believe it was a part of the job that was aimed at the biological extermination of the Polish people.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – Doctor, you have said that about 70 percent of these people were caught during round-ups. Can you please explain what was the nature of the Skaryszewska camp? Was it closed, guarded or unguarded?
Witness: – Essentially, it was closely guarded. Initially, it was guarded by the Polish police. When it was revealed that police officers helped people escape, the German police was given supervision. Then it was strictly the German police and, in the last stage, it was SS units.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – So practically only those with medical exemptions could be released?
Witness: – The detained were released after an intervention on the part of an institution, chiefly a German one, as Polish institutions were not given credit. If an intervention was timely, a detainee was released.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – The interventions concerned the employees of German institutions only?
Witness: – Yes.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – If there was no exemption or no intervention made, a detainee was immediately sent to forced labor?
Witness: – Yes, if considered fit for work.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – What kind of element predominated during the roundups?
Witness: – It was completely coincidental. In Warsaw, it was mostly intelligentsia, outside of Warsaw - predominantly a rural element, on occasion smaller town inhabitants.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – Have there been cases of transports from trains or markets?
Witness: – Yes. Many from the province of the Warsaw district.
|Prosecutor Siewierski:||– And fewer from Warsaw?|
|Witness:||– Yes, Warsaw people had their ways of avoiding it.|
|Attorney Śliwowski:||– I have a question to defendant Fischer. In terms of administration, to|
whom did labor offices report?
Defendant Fischer: – Let me put it this way. The Dulag didn’t report to the Labor Office, if I am correctly informed, but to the labor department in the district. The witness has put it differently.
Attorney Śliwowski: – To whom did the Arbeitsamt report?
Defendant Fischer: – To the labor department.
Witness: – But the labor department reported to the district.
Defendant Fischer: – That is correct.
Judge Grudziński: – How long did people usually stay in the Dulag?
Witness: – It varied. For the most part, there was a tendency to clean and disinfect on the first day, and to send people off the following day. It happened like this before the additional tests were introduced. After that, it sometimes occurred that people were detained for 10 up to 12 days. Because if we referred someone to a roentgenograph, they were taken there the following day and only came back after another day, if it was impossible to make a diagnosis based on the roentgenograph itself. That might have been 10 percent of all cases. But, chiefly, it was on the second day that the detainees were sent for examination, and then, if possible, transferred. The conditions were horrid there.
Judge Grudziński: – What was the treatment and food?
Witness: – It was the worst, because they weren’t considered people but slaves who were to be sent off to the Reich for work. Initially, in one of the rooms there were no beds. [People] slept on the floor. From time to time, rarely however, the floor straw was changed. I know of cases where people who were brought to the camp without lice and who underwent disinfection caught it after they were introduced to the room.
Judge Grudziński: – Was there a district inspection that would supervise food provisions, etc.?
Witness: – Not much attention was given to the food. There was an inspection in relation to a typhus epidemic. Everyone was examined by a German doctor. A medical commission came from Kraków, as I recall, perhaps it was even Dr. P… [no name in the document]. We did an inspection of the whole camp and this was when all of the atrocities were exposed in their entirety.
Judge Grudziński: – What happened then?
Witness: – There was a superficial disinfection of the building. The old straw was removed, if there was any, and replaced by a new batch. But it was only a matter of days before the situation repeated itself.
Judge Grudziński: – What were the food provisions?
Witness: – If I remember correctly, it was black coffee in the morning and a ration of stale bread. Then, after they brought in artificial honey, this was given from time to time. Some kind of Eintopfgericht for dinner, a greasy soup, very poor tasting. The supper was the same as breakfast. It wasn’t enough that they weren’t being fed. The Germans working there would steal packages sent by the families of detainees. And it was food from these packages that kept the poor people alive.
Judge Grudziński: – Who was in charge?
Witness: – Initially, at the beginning of 1940, it was SS Gebel, until August, September or so. In early 1941, he was shot dead on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. Then until 1942 it was Werner (the worst scoundrel). After him, Kohler, who was later transferred to be chief in Wołomin. Then, briefly, Lieber, who contributed to the arrest of Dr. Motyka and myself in connection with the falsifying [of examination results] and the assault on Koszelińska. He was made responsible for the investigation and came to the conclusion that the only party that could benefit from Koszelińska’s death were Polish doctors working at the camp. He was taken down on the same day as Kutschera was.
Judge Grudziński: – Are these names known to the defendant Fischer?
Defendant: – No.
Judge Grudziński: – None of them? May the Witness repeat?
Witness: – Gebel, Werner by the end of 1940 until early 1943.
Defendant Fischer: – I might have met him while visiting the camp.
Witness: – Then Kohler, Lieber, Bobolomow.
Defendant Fischer: – I do not know any of them.
Presiding Judge: – Was the defendant often present at the Skaryszewska camp?
Defendant Fischer: – I visited it in 1942, perhaps 1943 upon a complaint over existing conditions. I was accompanied by [Kurt] Hoffman, head of the labor department and [Herbert] Hummel, chief of the district office. I stated that the conditions were bad and I urged the administration to build new, suitable camps. After a long battle with the Labor Office in Kraków, I was given [a permit to build] a new camp next to Dworzec Gdański station. The construction was substantially delayed due to construction difficulties, then the camp burned down. Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned, the camp opened in 1943.
Judge Grudziński: – The defendant has visited the camp solely upon complaints?
Defendant: – Yes.
Judge Grudziński: – Therefore, had there been no complaint, the defendant would not have visited [it]?
Defendant: – What for? The labor administration was an organization on its own and enjoyed great independence. If there was no complaint, there were no grounds for visiting.
Judge Grudziński: – Was the defendant interested in knowing how many people were sent off?
Defendant: – But there were on-going reports from the labor administration, the figures were included in monthly reports handed to the government.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – A question for the witness, if I may. Has it happened that children were examined by the commission?
Witness: – Yes.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – What age range?
Witness: – Basically, according to the regulations in force, the threshold was 14 years old, but later it was no longer taken into consideration. It was considered that 8 or 9-year-old boys can just as well graze cattle there, if they do it here.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – So 8 or 9-year-old boys were caught and forced to labor?
Witness: – It depended on the chairman’s approach.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – Overall how many people were examined by the commissions at the Skaryszewska camp?
Witness: – Until 17 August 1943, as long as I was able to assess, it was roughly 350 thousand.
Defendant Fischer: – As regards children, as well as I can remember, it was only as of 1943 that they were sent off to the Reich, and only if accompanied by their parents, that is father, mother and children together. Or at least I do not have knowledge of any regulation that would have enabled it.
Witness: – The rules were one thing, the practice another. When a boy was caught, he was sent off to the Reich, regardless of whether he was accompanied by an adult. It depended solely on the executive.
Regarding the statement by the defendant Fischer about his visit, the situation at the camp was deplorable. The turnover was massive. Mass captures began in August or early September 1942 and continued until late April 1943. That was the period of the highest intensity - from 800 up to 2000 people were brought in daily. This meant that more and more packages from families were sent. A certain Steinbrück was actually in charge of package acceptance and distribution. Although it was not official, he acted like Werner’s deputy. Since the intake of packages was enormous, there was no time for distribution. They were laid out in the hallway, where they piled up endlessly.
Some of them were distributed, more juicy tidbits were confiscated by Steinbrück and Werner. The rest was left there to rot. Therefore, on the ground floor of the Dulag there was an appalling smell. I intervened in the matter several times. I tried to direct the attention of the German doctors to the issue. And it was only after a month that someone happened to come and pay attention to it. That person - I have no knowledge as to who that person was - ordered the distribution or removal of the packages. This notwithstanding, the situation did not change for a long time. So, unsurprisingly, German doctors reported it to the higher authorities. Only then did defendant Fischer deign to come to the camp, accompanied by Hoffman.
Defendant Fischer: – The reason that brought me there was different. It was the complaint on the part of Polish district starosts, who had been informed by Polish people about the situation at the camp. The complaint was lodged with me during a meeting session in a Polish district office. The head of the camp’s labor department vehemently refuted the allegations while I stated that I wanted to see the situation first-hand. That was the reason that brought me to the camp. I wish to ask one more question: what percentage of the detainees were released due to their medical condition?
Witness: – It depended on the element that was brought.
Defendant Fischer: – But roughly?
Witness: – The truly sick were obviously fewer, but about 15–20 percent of detainees were released.
Defendant Fischer: – According to my information it was between 30 and 40 percent.
Witness: – There was one record day when, thanks to the chairman’s indisposition, I was able to consider as fit for work only 230 out of 732 people.
Defendant Fischer: – How long did these people stay at the camp prior to being deported?
Witness: – It varied. Two, eight, ten days.
Presiding Judge: – The witness is excused.