Presiding Judge: The next witness, Władysław Plaskura.
Witness: Władysław Plaskura, 41 years old, engineer, Roman Catholic, no relationship to the defendants.
Presiding Judge: The witness is obliged to speak the whole truth. 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?
Presiding Judge: The witness shall testify without oath, but he is, nevertheless, obliged to speak the truth. The witness has been summoned upon the request of the Prosecutor. Will the Prosecutor please ask the witness his questions?
Prosecutor Pęchalski: When did the witness arrive at the Auschwitz camp?
Witness: With the second transport, on 20 June 1940.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: How long did the witness stay in the camp?
Witness: Exactly three years. Then, I was released, but I was forced to work in the camp till the end of 1944. After that, I was sent to Wrocław to a different camp, to Loza, to Łamkinia, where I dug fortification ditches.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Defendant Grabner testified that he had facilitated the witness’ release from the camp. Can the witness say if that is true?
Witness: It is a lie, because it was my wife’s uncle, landowner Zakrzewski, who advocated for my release. He managed to get me out of the camp by means of a high ransom, through Colonel Egersdorf. The release was to be effective since January 1943 and I was supposed to be assigned to an agricultural estate near Warsaw. When the order was issued to release me, Grabner contacted the central building office, because he wanted to keep me in the camp as
a Bauleitung [construction management] worker. In January, he sent me to quarantine for four weeks, but I stayed there for six months, because Grabner wanted the central building office to keep me as a white-collar worker developing sanitary installations for the camp. In spite of the reminders coming from Berlin, Grabner kept me illegally for six months. When he managed to get the permission to keep me there, he summoned me to the political department. It was then that I met Grabner for the first time: we were complete strangers. Grabner hadn’t known me at all before, so he couldn’t have advocated for my release. After I was brought to the political department, I waited for him for two hours. Finally, he came and said that I would work in the Bauleitung, and that I should stay away from all camp matters, because I knew what could happen to me for interfering. When I asked him if after the release I could visit my family, that is my mother and two sisters who lived in Brzeszcze, seven kilometers away from Auschwitz, the defendant replied that I could not. So I asked him if I could get a two-week leave, which all prisoners were entitled to, so that I could go to my place of residence in Tarnów, but he also said no. Instead, he ordered me to report every day to the political department, which I had to do for several weeks. Then, I had to report to the political department at least twice a week for a year. I also noticed that on my files in the local administration office and in the municipal office, there was a special note Auslandsperre, which meant that I could not be issued any pass to Tarnów or other place in the former General Government. In this way thanks to the help of defendant Grabner, instead of being released in 1944, I was freed only in March 1945 by the Red Army near Łambinowice.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness has testified that he worked in the Bauleitung. When was it?
Witness: From August 1940 to the end of December 1944.
Prosecutor: So almost for the whole time?
Witness: Yes, two weeks before the camp’s evacuation I was sent to work to Wrocław, to a different concentration camp.
Prosecutor: What does the witness know about the Bauleitung handing the finished buildings over to the Verwaltung, that is the fourth camp division? When did that happen?
Witness: It took a lot of time to settle those matters in the camp, because they required meticulous calculations and comparisons. The procedure was usually as follows: the Bauleitung constructed individual buildings, which were then approved by the SS Main Construction Office in Berlin. After the buildings had been finished, they were handed over to the Verwaltung, the camp administration, who took care of them, performed conservation works, etc. When the Bauleitung was handing over a given building, for example a crematorium, to the administration, they prepared delivery and acceptance documents which served as a basis for the acceptance of the building by the committee.
Prosecutor: Does the witness remember when did the Bauleitung hand the crematoria in Birkenau over to the camp administration?
Witness: I do not know exactly, but I know that the crematoria in Birkenau were handed over without delivery and acceptance documents, because it was an emergency matter. Bauinspektor Bischof ordered us to work even at night in order to hand the crematoria over as quickly as possible, even if it meant delivering them without delivery and acceptance documents. Although such a document had not been prepared, because precise calculations had not been carried out yet, the crematoria were handed over to the Verwaltung who took care of them and performed conservation works.
Prosecutor: Maybe I will formulate the question differently: Was it possible to perform any alterations or repairs of the buildings under the management of the Bauleitung, after they had been handed over to the camp administration?
Witness: When it comes to large buildings that had been handed over to the administration, they were no longer under the management of the Bauleitung. The Bauleitung could perform an alteration only if the Verwaltung determined that the building had not been constructed in full compliance with the plans or that the latest technological developments had not been used.
Prosecutors: And what about minor repairs, such as ventilators, reconstruction of doors or openings in crematorium furnaces?
Witness: The Verwaltung was responsible for that. In exceptional cases, when the Verwaltung did not have adequate materials at its disposal, they would send a written request to the Bauleitung, commissioning the performance of such works. Then, the Bauleitung would perform the works, but only when explicitly requested.
Prosecutor: When working in the Bauleitung, did the witness know that the institution was developing plans for further extension of the Auschwitz camp? Did the witness heard about those plans and can tell us something about them?
Witness: That was an enormous project which covered the construction of a camp for the prisoners, barracks for the SS regiment, a whole residential area with sports grounds, tennis courts, local attraction and a theater. The plans also envisaged the creation of special units within the camp: a canned food factory, a large slaughterhouse, etc. These were large-scale plans. An enormous city, Himmlerstadt, was to be built in the area of the camp.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did those plans also include the construction of a sixth crematorium?
Witness: Yes, the crematoria that were built during our stay in the camp were supposed to be only a temporary solution until the construction of an enormous building divided into several wings. One of those wings, where bunkers were going to be situated, was to be called Eingangsgebäude [reception], while the huge building was intended for the crematorium itself, including cells for the prisoners.
Prosecutor: Did those plans provide for an increase in the number of prisoners and the construction of an even bigger crematorium?
Defense Attorney Rappaport: The witness worked in the Bauleitung for about four years. Did the witness ever meet chauffeur Dinges there?
Witness: Yes, I met him.
Defense Attorney: What can the witness say about his activities, and particularly, did he do prisoners any favors and how did he behave towards them?
Witness: I met defendant Dinges several times, but I cannot say anything about him, because our relations were rather official and I did not hear anything unusual about his behavior.
Defense Attorney: The witness did not hear anything either positive or negative?
Witness: Nothing, either positive or negative.
Defense Attorney: I have one more question. Were the trucks owned by the Bauleitung ever delegated to the ramp in order to transport prisoners to the gas chambers?
Witness: I do not know that.
Defense Attorney: So maybe the witness knows if the people working in the Bauleitung ever received Sonderverpflegung [additional food rations] for assisting in different executions?
Witness: When it comes to the SS men working in the Bauleitung, they should be divided into two groups: office workers, who did not participate in any special operations, and SS men who were assigned to the Bauleitung and served in individual Bauleitung kommandos. That group was used for such operations.
Defense Attorney: I meant chauffeurs.
Witness: Chauffeurs did not participate.
Defendant Möckel: Could the witness tell us who decided about that?
Witness: I did not know if the orders came from Berlin, because I did not have access to any orders in general, including those which concerned Budy.
Defendant Grabner: I have to comment on the witness’ testimony, because there were no previous documents related to the request for Plaskura’s release, so there was no intervention. The person who ever addressed the issue was site manager Bischof, and the release was effectuated based on his request. I know that Plaskura wanted to spend nights at his home and he was able to do that, because he had full freedom of movement as a civilian employee. I suppose it is a misunderstanding. As far as I can remember, he asked for permission to visit his family or even to spend nights at his family home. In that respect, I did not act on my own initiative, but I informed him of what I had been ordered. I also declare that I would have been fully accountable for signing any documents concerning the witness or other prisoners.
Presiding Judge: Will defendant Kraus please make his declaration?
Defendant Kraus: I have a question for the witness. Does the witness know that the camp in Birkenau was liquidated at the end of 1944?
Witness: Which camp? The camp in Birkenau consisted of several units and it was Unit 3, newly built, where the work was suspended. Unit 1, that is women’s camp, and Unit 2, which consisted of 200 barracks, were still operating.
Defendant Kraus: But the crematoria were pulled down at that time by the construction department.
Witness: The crematoria were operational till the last moment and only then were they blown up. Before that, only one crematorium was burnt down by prisoners who worked there. They blew it up themselves.
Defendant Kraus: Can the witness say who ordered the demolition of the crematorium?
Witness: I do not know that, because I was in Wrocław at that time. I had been transported there to perform further work.
Presiding Judge: The witness is excused.