Presiding Judge: Next witness, Edward Liszka.
(Witness Edward Liszka appears.)
Presiding Judge: Please state your personal details.
Witness: Edward Liszka, 27 years of age, medical student at the Jagiellonian University, Roman Catholic, no relationship to the parties.
Presiding Judge: I am advising the witness in accordance with art. 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the obligation to speak the truth. Making false declarations is punishable by conviction with a maximum penalty of 5-year imprisonment. Do the parties wish to file motions as regards the procedure of interviewing the witness?
Presiding Judge: The witness is then exempt from taking the oath. What can you tell us concerning the case, and in particular as regards the defendants present?
Witness: I had the pleasure to cooperate with almost all the defendants in the dock for four years and two months. The first one I came across when I came in on a transport in 1940 was Plagge. He received us at block 8, beating us with the handle of a spade. Let me say that these weighed half a kilogram, because I worked at the storage for a while. He used the handle to beat prisoners form the Montelupich Prison, those fit and those less fit, most often in the head. Among those prisoners was also priest Mazanek from Kraków, who was released in 1941. Defendant Plagge had it in for him. He kicked, beat and insulted him, spitting at him. He will without doubt remember this priest. Then I met defendant Kirschner, nicknamed the Frog or the Duck. I was dealt 25 blows for using this word myself. Then I was at Müller’s block. This was in 1942. Both Kirchner and Müller – more than just martinets – stood out from the other criminals, especially during roll calls, supposedly searching for lice, as well as when they checked if the triangles had been sewn in properly. These triangles marked prisoners as political prisoners, criminals, Jews, etc. He checked this with a needle, and if an opportunity arose, he beat and tortured people in the most cruel fashion. I am categorically stating that, at that period, he was the second worst Blockführer, right after Plagge. This is why he was easily promoted. In 1942, I worked for 13 months in the kitchen, with a six-week interval due to spotted typhus. Müller, ignoring the fact that he used to beat me at the block, came to me as to a cook and begged like a bum for a piece of meat or some sugar, knowing that if I gave it to him I would be stealing from my comrades. When I gave him things not from prisoners’ food storage but from the SS men’s, and he did not know about it, he was very pleased and used to say that Poles are good people. People called him the reverend or pretty boy. He was always sleek, as was Schumacher. The work in the kitchen was very hard because the numerical quota of Auschwitz, including “Buna” and Birkenau, was 35,000 people. The cooks had to wake up at 2.00 a.m. and wash the dishes, which was supervised by Schumacher, even though this was not his job. Schumacher was deputy head of food storage.
Concerning Aumeier, he came from the Flossenbürg camp in spring 1942. He arrived as Hauptsturmführer and prisoners at the camp nicknamed him “Łokietek”, because he was short. Even so, he had very well-trained legs, which I found out to my own cost. In 1942, we cooked so-called Hundefutter [dog food], 300 liters of it, and to prepare it, we received from the storage triple the usual amount of meat and potatoes; however, on Aumeier’s orders, we were not supposed to serve so-called vitamins, that is nettles or other herbs picked outside the camp. Herbs brought by prisoners from the outside contained various chemical elements – we did not know if they were poisonous or not.
Aumeier was particularly cruel and vindictive. It was him, and not Grabner, who in 1942 issued the order to “pin” captain Dubicki, who was commander of the “Kamienna” unit during the occupation. This man was fully fit. Having had his bones crushed by Aumeier, he was, on the orders of the latter, “pinned” by Pańszczyk – a Pole who was filling in for the absent Klehr. He specialized in injections.
In winter 1942/43, I lived at block 10 (then it was block 12). When at block 10, which most recently had been occupied by Jewish women serving as guinea pigs, I slept by the window, together with comrades whose names I can provide. In the winter, it was not allowed to close the windows, even during the most freezing cold, while in summer, it was not allowed to open them, also on Aumeier’s orders. In a tiny room with three windows, which was more or less eight or nine meters long and four or four and a half meters wide, there were more than 300 people. We were crammed like sardines in a can. There were also similar living conditions in 1940, when at block 8 (now 23) there were 800 people. In room 2 at that block, six by three, with two windows, there were 240 people. At night, after we were checked to see if our feet were clean, we were supposed, having received a drill command, to get onto the bed ticks (they were stuffed with a few straws, drenched with the excrement of the sick). Then, in 1941, defendant Kirchner, nicknamed the Frog or the Duck because of a peculiar gait, who was able to wave these legs around and kick with them in a practiced fashion, like a ballet dancer, used to come to us. The worst thing at night was the fact that if a prisoner wanted to get up and relieve himself, he was not allowed to do this in the block. There were five latrines at the entire camp, that is one per 10,000 prisoners, and three wells, one of them, rotationally, always inoperative. Try to imagine a prisoner’s torment and the results that followed when he got out of this cluster of sardines. If he did get out, he was not allowed to relieve himself at the block’s toilet other than with written permission from the Lagerartz [camp doctor].
It should also be emphasized that we were fed with so-called Milchzup [milk soup], whose ingredients were not known even to doctors nor also to defendant Möckel, who was partly responsible for prisoners’ alimentation. This soup was simply a diuretic agent. The bladders of the prisoners who ate it were so full that they did not even realize they were urinating. I am not even mentioning the bloodstained diarrhea.
The block’s toilet was watched, as we called him, by the Scheiss-majster, who was the right hand of the block elder, who at that time was Karlik, a dear friend of Kirschner’s.
Kirschner would come for supper, for a sausage, ignoring the fact that he was eating huge amounts of food for prisoners, obviously to their disadvantage.
I witnessed it myself, because having received a parcel through legal channels, which contained a pullover, I wanted to trade this pullover for soup, since I preferred to freeze than to starve. I went to the block elder and I saw Kirchner, with a red-checkered camp rag, issued to camp cleaners for the purpose of drying the dishes, tucked under his chin so as, God forbid, not to stain his lousy SS uniform, who was eating Bratkartofel [roasted potatoes] with prisoners’ sausage, or with the meat taken from the prisoners’ pots. Kirschner was often seen at the camp with a small-caliber rifle, walking in front of Grabner, accompanied by Palitzsch or Müller, to block 11. I cannot categorically state that he carried out executions, but he was present when they happened. In 1941, when the first gassing of Russian officers and severely sick Poles from the Krankenbau [prisoners’ hospital] took place – this was, if I am not mistaken, in November 1941 – Grabner, together with Kirschner, Seidler, who was filling in for Fritsch, and Plagge, went to block 11. I was at block 10 at that time. Like cattle, we were driven from the rooms facing the yard to rooms on the other side. This was in the evening and, squatting, we spent the entire night there, while block 11 saw the gassing of some 600 or 700 Russian officers, plus 120 to 150 sick Poles brought on stretchers from block 18 or 20.
I read in the papers that defendant Grabner claims that gassings were a best kept secret from SS circles, not to mention us, prisoners. Let me say that I witnessed, sitting on the roof of block 10a, as Grabner, a gas mask hung over his shoulder, together with the others, whose names I have listed, entered the yard of block 11. There, Russian officers, previously divested of all items aside from their IDs, were driven like cattle. On the strength of these IDs, after two or three days, the corpse carriers determined that these were Russian officers. They were crammed, standing, like sardines into the bunker, the door was shut, and cans with gas were thrown inside. I do not know if this was the cyclone, but in any case it had a sharp, stinging, suffocating smell. When on the roof of block 10a, together with Radwanek, Jan Chlebowski, Krieger, and Matuszewski, who was later a scribe at block 22, I made a determination that it was gas. Since the windows were not sealed properly, the gas leaked out and for two days and nights, dull moans and cries for help were heard from the basement. Let me say that Grabner, Kirschner, Plagge, and, if memory serves me right, also Gehring, were present at the execution.
I read in the papers that defendant Grabner claimed that he only found out about this execution after two weeks, from the prisoners. It is a funny thing, Your Honors, that the god of life and death of Auschwitz prisoners and the neighborhood would only find out about such things from a prisoner! He had the audacity to deny this and to claim that he did not know about any such thing, and that, if it did happen, it was not his fault.
I will go on to discuss the pre-Aumeier period. (Although similar incidents also happened under Aumeier). The defendants will surely recall that in front of the prisoners’ kitchen a Christmas tree was placed, a Weihnachtsbaum. This was a huge spruce, decorated with colorful lights, which was supposed to remind prisoners that they were alive and that there was God, who they mocked all the time. I remember when in 1942 Aumeier snatched a medallion off a prisoner’s neck. This prisoner was later, that is on 28 August 1942, taken on a transport to be gassed. I was also designated for this transport, but I was to survive, thanks to my comrades who saved me then. At that time, Grabner signed a list of 1,400 people, healthy and sick, and wanted to get spotted typhus, abdominal typhus and paratyphoid fever out of the camp. The intensification of the epidemic was terrible and people dropped like flies. It was Saturday, 28 August 1942. Even if I were to live forever and forget the entire period of my internment at Auschwitz, that day I will never forget. In the morning, at 6 – as far as you could tell from the sun, we were driven out, naked, on Grabner’s orders (which I was told by a friend working at the political department, who by the way testified on Saturday).
We were driven out, sick people who were recovering. I was among them. They were human shadows, weighing between 37 and 40 kilograms. I weighed 37 kilograms and six weeks earlier I had weighed 68 kilograms. I had been fit and strong, I worked at the kitchen, where you could pilfer something, because every Pole promised himself that he would get out of the camp.
We were rushed to a yard encircled with a net. Then Aumeier, Grabner, Dr. Entress, and Klehr came in, as did other SS men from the SDG. Vans drew up, whose numbers I can still recall – anyway, a chauffeur is here, about whom I will talk at the end. Huge, five-ton vans drew up which were used for transporting bread for prisoners and had not gone through any disinfection after they had transported the sick. They stopped at barrack 27 and we, the human shadows, waited, holding our Fieberkarts [fever charts]. We were rushed in groups of 100–120, after they collected these Fieberkarts from us. Stanisław Głowa, thanks to whom I am still alive, because I was to be sent to the gas, testified about it on Saturday.
I need to emphasize that Poles and persons of other nationalities were sent to be gassed, while Germans were set aside. This operation was personally supervised and run by Aumeier, Grabner and Entress.
I want to talk about the informants, whose king and boss was Stanisław Dorosiewicz, a high-ranking officer of Department II in Bydgoszcz. For the services rendered to Grabner he received vodka and a Mauser 9 mm gun, which he could carry on himself at all times. In 1943, I worked at the kitchen with my friend Golik. I tried to poison Dorosiewicz on seven occasions, and it was not on the orders of the resistance, since I do not believe there was any resistance inside the camp. We simply wanted to get rid of him, but he later escaped.
Aumeier and Grabner were with the transport of the sick to Birkenau and they told us that we were going to the Krankenbauleitung, and not to be gassed. It was 28 August 1942, we stood in terrible heat, and nobody gave us a single drop of water because it was prohibited. We passed the message to our comrades at the kitchen so that they would save us. Nine cooks were extricated as skilled workers, myself among them, which I owe to Stanisław Głowa.
Presiding Judge: Can you provide any particular information concerning defendant Mandl in connection with her treatment of prisoners?
Witness: I am having a go at Aumeier and Grabner.
Presiding Judge: You are here to give testimony.
Witness: As regards Aumeier, I will discuss a characteristic incident.
Working for him, I slept by the window, and even though it was winter, I was not allowed to close it, so waking up in the morning, I was covered with snow. So I asked Aumeier to close the window, partly or fully. He kicked and beat me at his Schreibstube [administrative office], only allowing me to sleep in a cap so my brain would not catch cold, as he put it. As a punishment, he gave me three solid hours on the pole. Believe me when I say it: all other tortures pale in comparison to the pole. This is an old invention, used by Grabner, similarly to a swing. The prisoner’s hands would be cuffed and he would be hung on a ring, high up on the wall. Then, an SS man would come in, maybe Gehring or Plagge, I do not remember now, and pull you, with full force, by the hips, to break the joints in your arms. My arms were moving out of the joints and I was suffocating because my shirt was buttoned to the chin. You could not walk unbuttoned, and Müller paid particular attention to this, beating anybody who was missing a single button. While I was serving the pole punishment, some SS man came in with a dog and unleashed it so that it ripped a piece of flesh from my leg and dragged me round the pole. Still, I survived this hell and I was later nursed by my comrades.
Now I want to say a few words about the Russian captives brought in on numerous transports in winter 1941, under Seidler. I worked at the joinery at that time, where I made the door for the gas chamber 1, which was located opposite the SS-Rewier, i.e. the SS hospital. It was a huge room, which previously served as a morgue, and, on Grabner’s order, it was redeveloped and turned into airtight gas chambers, which could accommodate around 1,000 people. Russian POWs were driven to this chamber straight from the Bauhof, that is the ramp, naked, even though it was winter. That way, a few thousand people were gassed. The story at the camp had it that Grabner was present during these gassings. Everyone dreaded him terribly when he entered the block and everybody prayed that Grabner would not look at him and call him out of the block. Selections at the camp were often performed by Aumeier and Grabner. If one prisoner escaped, regardless of his nationality, ten Poles were selected for the bunker, where they died of starvation or were executed. This is how the Russian captives’ camp started, which was separated from the main camp by means of wires. Often, I came back late at night from the kommando, since I worked at the tannery. On my way back, I saw Grabner, Kirschner, Müller (this innocent reverend), and other SS men, who were hunting prisoners at the Russian camp. Aumeier went on a similar hunt in the summer. They would come to the camp and pull people from block 6, now 14, which was the hospital block for the Russian captives. They pulled the “Muslims”, the human shadows, who were only fit for a sanatorium, they told them to lie on the ground, and they poured water from the camp Feuerwerke on them. Then, they piled them up in a cube, five or six layers, one layer atop another. Let me emphasize that these were living people. In the morning, they were but cold skeletons. Only Grabner and Aumeier could pull that off.
I remember one incident from the fall of 1942. During a roll call, one of the prisoners (I was able to watch it, because us cooks stood in front of the kitchen), evidently suffering from diarrhea, was dropping his guts and it trickled down his leg. Aumeier spotted it and he ordered him to eat it. The sick prisoner had to eat it. This is Aumeier.
In late fall, I also witnessed one of the first executions by hanging perpetrated against prisoners for attempted escape. One of them was a painter, a healthy man in the prime of his life. I cannot recall their names. As usual, the execution was attended by Grabner. Aumeier, in the presence of Höß, read out the supposed sentence of the court that he himself presided over (because there was no court, which I can categorically state), and it was read out to them that an example would be made of them and that they would be hanged for attempted escape. The painter acted boldly during the execution, or even heroically. There he stood, in a scanty shirt and lousy pants, his hands cuffed behind his back. Before they put a noose on him, he managed to shout, “Long live Poland”. The other, in his turn, jumped off the base of the gallows, fell at Aumeier’s feet and begged for his life, explaining that he had a wife and children, that he was young and wanted to live. In response, Aumeier kicked him so hard that the prisoner fell, hitting his head against the step of the gallows. Boger stood him at the gallows and put a noose around his neck. The noose was not put on properly and the prisoner jumped off for the second time. Then, Aumeier personally grabbed him by his legs, swung him and let him go so that he flew through the air. Aumeier was directly responsible for this man’s death.
I will recount another episode. Summer 1942, a Lublin transport, which Grabner surely remembers. Some 264 prisoners were taken for a presentation at the political department. We knew what block 11 meant – it meant you were gone. And this is what happened, to all of them, all 264 people. We made very detailed notes of all this in our heads, at least the numbers if we could not remember the names of the victims. This group was locked in at block 3a in the Endlausungkammer, where clothes were disinfected. As regards the Endlausungkammer, delousing was only done because of the SS men, and not us, the prisoners. It was done so they would not get infected from lice bites, for they did not want to die, they were the Herrenvolk [master race] which was to rule Europe. That is what they wanted, but thank God they failed.
These 264 wretched souls were taken out of block 3a; they were mostly healthy people because this transport came in 1941, around Easter. Guarded by an SS company, who carried small and heavy automatics, they were taken to block 11. Aumeier, Grabner, and Müller were already there; I am not certain as regards Plagge, but Kirschner was definitely there. They were executed around noon, alternatively between 10 and 11.00 a.m., not from caliber rifles but from guns for killing cattle.
Your Honors surely know what this looks like and I do not need to describe it. These guns could be used to kill cattle and accuracy was sometimes difficult. Nagraba, one of my comrades, who worked at the crematorium, told me that when the transport of corpses arrived, some of them were still alive. They were brought in in the evening, so they lay there until the morning, the weight of their dead comrades pressing upon them. The blood from block 11 was flowing down into the sewer all the way to the gate. It was not prisoners but SS men themselves that poured sand on it, so to hide the fact that there was such bloodshed at block 11.
I also want to mention the Russkies with whom I worked at the Abbruch [dismantling unit] after I was expelled from the joinery. These poor Russkies received half the usual prisoners’ rations. I do not want to describe it since Your Honors know what portions we are talking about here. So, they would get half a portion, but they got neither the Schwararbeitszulage [heavy labor bonus] or Muzelmanzulage, which was a ladle of soup issued to the “Muslims” in the evening. This was at the request of Himmler himself, who had been at the camp twice, and once I had the pleasure to talk to him when he came to the kitchen. On that occasion, Aumeier punched me in the face, because I had not been stilted enough before Europe’s master of life and death. This happened next to caldron one. Himmler asked me why there were no vitamins in the soup. I replied that it was Hundefutter [dog food], not Häftlingsfutter [prisoner food]. Then, Aumeier whacked me. This was in the presence of Höß and many other high-ranking officers.
Presiding Judge: I am ordering a break of five minutes.
(After the break.)
Presiding Judge: Which defendants do you recognize?
Witness: Camp commandant Liebehenschel, Maria Mandl, Oberaufseherin [senior overseer], Aumeier, Möckel, Grabner, Kraus, Kirschner, Dr. Kremer, Dr. Münch, Josten, Plagge, Lorenz, Bogusch, Szczurek, Schumacher, Detlef Nebbe, Breitwiesser, and Dinges the driver.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions for the witness?
Prosecution and defense: No.
Witness: You Honors, at the beginning of my statement I was agitated and my comment about the resistance was an overstatement. If your Honors would ask me questions, which I will briefly answer.
Presiding Judge: You mentioned Schumacher, but I believe you have not testified concerning him. Can you tell us something about him?
Witness: Schumacher was deputy head of the bread storage. He meddled with affairs that were none of his concern, beating and persecuting the cooks, despite the fact that we did not answer to him. He found on me 14 onions, the size of a fingernail, which were leftovers from the “Kanada”. He kicked me in the presence of the head cooks. I broke three ribs and I still have scars.
Presiding Judge: And what about Dinges?
Witness: Dinges was a driver at the Fehrbereitschaft [motor pool]. I cannot state anything negative about him.
Presiding Judge: What can you tell us about defendant Mandl?
Witness: I knew Maria Mandl when I was a cook, since she used to come to our kitchen to “rustle up” things. On many occasions, on the orders of the head cook, I compiled a parcel for her, and also for Aufseherin Brandl, who used to come with a dog. Also, I remember Mandl from the Fahrbereitschaft, from 1943 to 1944. She had a simca. I remember when once the speedometer in her car broke. She summoned me so I would wash her car. I told her this was not part of my responsibilities. She whipped me all over my body, and when I went down, she kicked me. I saw Mandl beating one of the mechanics, who is in attendance today, and still has bruises. When at the Gartnerei [garden] at Rajsko, I saw Mandl torturing Poles, who worked at the Gärtnerei Rajsko – Pflanzenzucht [plant breeding site]. Let me state that defendant Mandl beat people: I saw it and I was beaten by her myself.
As regards Kirschner, he was issued a motorcycle, and we would say that he was like a duck on a motorcycle. He butchered one of my Jewish comrades.
As regards Grabner, let me recount an incident which took place in early spring. The prisoners were pulling a cart with potatoes through the camp. Russian captives fell upon the potatoes, and then Grabner came and started to shoot at them as if they were dogs. He killed a dozen or so people.
Aumeier and Grabner organized hunts at the Russian camp. In the evening and at night they would burst in the camp, chase the Russkies and shoot at them like they were animals. Aumeier specialized at this.
As regards Müller, he specialized at beatings.
Szczurek was a Blockführer and he was a typical sadist.
Deftel Nebbe, unlike as stated in the papers, not only punished prisoners but also punched them with a firm soldier’s fist. I was beaten myself a few times.
Defendant Bogusch also beat people who were passing through the gate, although he was not a Blockführer. He specialized at inspections, which were ordered by Aumeier.
Defendant Lorenz – let me state this in a completely impartial manner – stood in contrast to other SS men. He was a human. I do not know if this was because he wanted us to give him better quality gas for his car. Let me say that I did not see him ever hit anyone. He supplied food for me and my comrades. He was the first one to pass on to us information about the Russian-German front, he was the first one to warn us about selections, and during the evacuation of the camp, he took care of a group of 14 Polish drivers, myself among them.
Presiding Judge: You mentioned the resistance network at the camp, saying that it did not exist.
Witness: Correct. That was an overstatement, which I shall now retract.
Defendant Aumeier: I am asking for permission to ask the witness where the Russian camp was.
Witness: At blocks 1, 2, 3, 3a, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, presently blocks 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, 14, 22, 23 and 24.
I forgot to add that in the basement of block 3 corpses of Russians were stored, because the crematorium could not handle the incineration in time. These corpses were transported to pits at Birkenau. A terrible stench was coming from these pits, so Jews from the SD were used to dig out these corpses.
Defendant Aumeier: May I ask when it was that myself and defendant Grabner organized the hunt at the Russian camp?
Witness: In 1941, at the beginning of summer. It still lingers in front of my eyes. At that time, I worked at the tannery, where Aumeier would come to the boiler room to see if we were not cooking anything. He also came to the kitchen, where he had parcels with pork prepared, which were then taken to him by Hans Hoffman (whom he called Bubi).
Defense attorney Rappaport: Did you also know Dinges?
Witness: That is correct.
Defense attorney: Do you know if Dinges brought medications and fats for prisoners?
Witness: Thank you for reminding me; otherwise, I would have done injustice to Lorenz and Dinges. I got vodka from Dinges. He offered that he would notify my family that I was doing well, more or less. I sent three letters to my parents.
Defense attorney: Did defendant Lorenz also bring, aside from vodka, other food items to the camp?
Witness: Yes, all the time.
Defense attorney Ostrowski: Can you provide the name of the driver to whom defendant Lorenz was referring?
Witness: I know who this person is, but I do not remember the name. He is currently a driver in Kraków, either at the Montelupich Prison or at the Department of Security.
Presiding Judge: Are there any other questions for the witness?
Presiding Judge: The witness is excused.