The thirteenth day of trial

Presiding Judge: The Court calls witness Andrzej Rablin.

I advise the witness to speak the truth in accordance with Article 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Making false declarations is punishable with a prison term of up to five years. Do the parties wish to submit any requests regarding the mode of hearing of the witness?

Prosecutor: We exempt the witness from taking the oath.

Defense: We do, too.

Witness: Andrzej Rablin, 33 years old, salesman, Roman Catholic, no relationship to the defendants.

Presiding Judge: Will the witness please provide the Tribunal with specific facts concerning the activities of the defendants, at least those whom the witness recognizes?

Witness: I came to the Auschwitz camp on 18 July 1940 with the first transport directly from Kraków. The drivers did not know the way, so they drove to the town and had to go back to the camp.

One of the first people I met was defendant Kirschner, “the Frog”. He was standing at the so-called Hauptwache [main guardhouse]. From there, we were sent to quarantine, where we met the Sportführer [sports activities leader, unofficial], with the rank of Rottenführer at that time, defendant Plagge. During the quarantine, we were beaten, kicked and treated brutally. The elderly people would fall on the ground. The watchtowers had not been extended yet, and there were only machine guns situated at our eye level. In the quarantine block, “sports activities” lasted a dozen or so hours. Once during such activities, Fischhab from Kraków, the owner of a stamp factory, fell onto the ground. I knew him personally. He was an elderly man, he couldn’t run, and his head dropped when he was hit on the neck with a stick. When he supported the head with a hand, he was beaten for not keeping the hands on the chest. The curious thing is that people from our transport were beaten first. Willow sticks had been soaking for three days near block 11.

Elderly people would fall down. For example, a German political prisoner – I do not remember his name – fell on the ground and started yelling, “Mein Herz!” [my heart]. Wieczorek approached him and said, “So ist recht” [that’s correct], because he did not obey Führer’s orders. Another prisoner who fell down was Markiewicz, resident of Kraków, butcher, killed during the quarantine. He decided to visit a doctor, although we had advised him against it, because we knew it would mean death. Palitzsch took him to the attic and forced him to jump. He died on the spot.

When prisoners performed “sports activities,” defendant Plagge would beat and kick them, and during rollen – rolling – he would kick sand into prisoners’ eyes. He administered the punishment of 25 lashes; sometimes he would double it. People who abused prisoners in the quarantine block were: Palitzsch, Teuer, Engelschein, and Meyer.

On 18 July, in the worst heat, people were ordered to stand in the field for hours: some of them fell on the ground due to Sonnenbrand [sunburn].

After the quarantine, we were assigned to individual blocks and to different jobs, which were beyond our strength. One of the hardest jobs was at the construction site of the first crematorium. Again, defendants Kirschner, Plagge and Palitzsch would show off there.

Presiding Judge: The witness has mentioned that the defendants “showed off”. What does it mean?

Witness: By “showing off” I meant beating and kicking.

Presiding Judge: Did the witness see that?

Witness: Yes, I did.

Presiding Judge: The witness also testified in relation to Schumacher. What can the witness say about him?

Witness: Defendant Schumacher was one of the managers of the food warehouse near the kitchen, where food supplies that had been stolen from transports were brought. In the camp, he would beat people, especially those who visited the kitchen. Many times he took out his revolver and beat prisoners with the butt.

Presiding Judge: Whom else does the witness recognize?

Witness: Liebehenschel, Aumeier.

Presiding Judge: Can the witness shortly describe any facts that he observed regarding the defendants?

Witness: To say that Aumeier was an animal is not enough to describe him.

Presiding Judge: The witness was asked if he had observed any facts, not to describe the defendant. Please answer the question.

Witness: Aumeier beat prisoners in front of everyone, I saw it many times. When a transport of women arrived, who were placed in the men’s camp, he would shoot at the windows in the women’s blocks when they stood by the windows to watch the roll calls or, especially, executions.

Presiding Judge: What can the witness say about defendant Liebehenschel? What did the witness see or hear?

Witness: With Liebehenschel’s arrival, the conditions in the camp improved. I do not know if it was him who ordered it or somebody else.

Presiding Judge: Are there any questions for the witness?

Prosecutor Brandys: Does the witness know any details of Fischhab’s death and Plagge’s contribution?

Witness: In the several weeks of quarantine, Plagge was always present during “sports activities”.

Prosecutor Brandys: I would only like to know the details of his death and what happened to him afterwards.

Witness: He was thrown into a trough filled with water, where prisoners were usually drowned in the quarantine block. Wieczorek threw him down there, while Plagge was standing next to him with a pipe, as always. Then, he was taken out of the trough and thrown into the gutters in the latrine, where he died.

Prosecutor Brandys: Does the witness know if defendant Schumacher searched prisoners?

Witness: Yes, he did.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: Did defendant Schumacher report prisoners to manager Schebeck?

Witness: Yes, because two groups of workers from his warehouse were transported out of the camp.

Defense Attorney Rappaport: Does the witness know if defendant Dinges beat or abused anyone, or helped deliver food and medicines?

Witness: I never met him in person.

Defense Attorney Rappaport: Has the witness heard anything about him?

Witness: I haven’t, but I know that he had a bad reputation.

Presiding Judge: Are there any questions for the witness?

Prosecutors: No.

Defense: No.

Presiding Judge: Therefore, the witness is excused.