Presiding Judge: Please summon the next witness, Stanisław Kłodziński.
Presiding Judge: Please provide your personal details. I hereby instruct the witness, pursuant to the provisions of Article 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that you are required to speak the truth. The provision of false testimony is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years. Do the parties want to submit any motions as to the procedure according to which the witness is to be interviewed?
Prosecutors: We release the witness from the obligation to take an oath.
Defense attorneys: We too.
Witness: Stanisław Kłodziński, 29 years old, a graduate of medicine, unmarried, religion – Roman Catholic, relationship to the accused – none.
Presiding Judge: Please describe what went on in the camp at Auschwitz.
Witness: I would like to recount the goings on in general, for I did not encounter the accused directly. Due to the work that I performed in the years 1943 – 44, I was able to observe the overall Auschwitz policy and various of its manifestations on the grounds of the camp. I think that it is no coincidence that the accused are hoping that they will be shielded from the direct testimony of witnesses by the simple fact that the majority of prisoners who could testify as to how the accused behaved in the camp are dead.
However, plans were put into effect [by the camp resistance movement] whereby, in the event of the complete liquidation of prisoners, there would be no shortage of evidence and materials that would allow the courts presiding after the victorious conclusion of the War to ensure that justice would be done. I know that many people risked their lives to send highly classified and detailed data outside the camp, making use of a very complex chain of persons drawn from the civilian population. These materials reached specific centers, where they were registered.
Since I myself was one of the men who sent out these communications, I will allow myself to provide some numerical data and other information from the camp and Schreibstube [office] records that were safely gathered. These sources clearly present the periods when the treatment of prisoners was lenient or harsh. And here are the data: In the years 1941–1943, there were 200,000 numbered male inmates at Auschwitz I. In January 1943, there were some 80,000 prisoners in the three camps. From the beginning of the camp’s existence, approximately 10,000 prisoners were released. That is, by 1943 approximately 90,000 died of natural or unnatural causes – nearly 50 percent of the total.
Between 15 January and 15 May 1943, there were some 20,000 numbered prisoners. At the same time, over a few days the Germans gassed 7,000 Greek Jews, who were unnumbered. In June 1943, there was a fresh wave of executions: the first group comprised 57 victims, the second 120, and the third 240.
In June 1943 there took place the well-known killing of 214 persons – 34 of whom were women – at block 11. From a transport of Jews sent in from Sosnowiec and Dęblin, 30,000 (90 percent) went to the gas chambers. In November 1943, the Germans executed 60 Polish officers.
In January 1944, a further 7,000 officers were gassed. Apart from the numbered inmates, some 6,000 female Jewish prisoners of the camp were gassed. Next, a Polish transport comprising two groups of boys, approximately 48 persons aged between 6 and 16, was destroyed using phenol injections.
According to official data, 10 – 12 kg of gold were recovered monthly from the teeth of gassing victims. But this official figure is doubtless understated by some 30 percent, for the SS men would force prisoners to steal some of the gold for them.
The records for January 1944 show that the camp had 27,053 numbered prisoners. In February, 1,359 of them died. In the same month, 1,698 people were sent to the gas chambers. A further 2,189 inmates died in March, and 1,802 were gassed. In April, exactly 1,582 died, while 277 female prisoners were sent to the gas chambers.
The official numerical data for the period from 2 to 17 February 1944: 7,000 new arrivals, of whom 4,000 were gassed and 60 shot at block 11.
Between 11 April 1942 and 31 January 1944 there were 22,917 numbered prisoners in the female camp.
On 9 September 1943, a transport of children arrived from Bydgoszcz, and also a transport of women; they were gassed a few days later, while two or three days afterwards an order was received from Berlin to release them.
On 5 October 1944, the Germans conducted the public hanging of Józef Jasiński, no. 87026, 27 years old, for contacting persons outside the camp, Mieczysław Brok, no. 763, 22 years old, for attempting to listen to a radio in the camp, Goliński, no. 531, 21 years, for a breakout, and three other persons (Russians) for reasons unknown to us.
Over the next few days, they liquidated some 200 Jews from the Sonderkommando [special squad] and 2,500 Jews brought in from Łódź; 80 percent of the children were also exterminated during this period. On 11 September 1944, an inquest was held against Grabner in Weimar in connection with his policy of arbitrary shootings. In light of the strong notoriety that Auschwitz had gained abroad, those in power in Berlin organized the investigation in order to divest themselves of responsibility and instead place it firmly on the individual units of the camp administration.
On 17 October 1944, the rebellion of the Sonderkommando that worked at the gas chambers was put down with great brutality. I have a dozen or so statistics that I specially took from the bulletins issued by the camp authorities. All of these are in the possession of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes. The resistance movement in the camp occupied itself with gathering materials aimed at incriminating some of the accused present here today. Acting on its own initiative, and with the objective of intimidation in mind, the resistance issued death sentences against the most guilty SS men of Auschwitz. These sentences were broadcast over both national clandestine radio, and London radio.
Their substantiations were presented in brief. Lagerführer [camp leader] Aumeier, an SS man, was a mass murderer and sadist, personally responsible for carrying out death sentences and ordering the deaths of hundreds of people. The majority of his victims were completely innocent. They were guilty only of being an officer, or of coming from the intelligentsia. [Aumeier] had them sent to one of the blocks and shot dead, however their families in Poland were informed that they had died of disease. Together with the accused Grabner, he conducted mass executions of absolutely innocent people. Among others, in October 1942 they killed more than 200 residents of Lublin, who had been arrested in some round- up and had spent more than half a year in the camp. Grabner was a regular assistant at the executions. On 23 January 1943, Colonel Jan Karcz, the former head of the cavalry department who had been sent to the penal company for half a year for committing a camp “crime”, reported to Aumeier, the Lagerführer at the time. He requested that he be freed, for he had served his period of sentence. Aumeier, responding in a mocking tone, said that he would notify him of his decision. On Monday 25 January 1943, that is two days later, Karcz was summoned to block 11 and shot dead together with a large group of people.
SS-Unterscharführer Grabner, the head of the political department until February 1943, was the leading torturer and mass murderer from 18 June 1940 to February 1943. He organized, trained and directly supervised a unique section that was devoted to the large-scale killing of prisoners – the so-called political department. To this end he selected well-trained, savage assistants. He would beat inmates together with the camp commandant, and enjoyed complete authority over the life of prisoners. He was the initiator and executor of mass shootings, which were held practically daily, in the main issuing orders on his exclusive whim. Further, he was the driving force behind the introduction of murder techniques other than hanging and shooting, namely gassing and starvation. In 1941, he introduced a new method of shooting – Genickschuss, the nape shot. He himself implemented a sophisticated system of torture methods, which he applied with particular fondness. He would use a very characteristic expression when wanting to convey that someone was being sentenced to death by shooting: “Weck mit diesem Scheise” [do away with this shit].
As regards the accused Mandl, I have here her bill of indictment, in which it is stated that she was a murderer and sadist who was not satisfied with directly beating and killing prisoners. She conducted numerous gassings on her own initiative, without orders.
The accused Bogusch came from a Polish family, he was a non-commissioned officer in the Polish Army, but he was an intransigent enemy of the Poles. His beatings and maltreatment led to the deaths of a great many people. He would repeat – constantly and at each opportunity – that if only he had the power, he would shoot all the Poles dead, like dogs.
These are original documents.
Presiding Judge: Did the conditions in the camp improve somewhat when Liebehenschel was commandant?
Witness: Irrespective of the camp administration, in various periods there were diverse ways and different reasons for which the treatment of prisoners would, for a longer or briefer time, become somewhat more humane. I am of the opinion that when Liebehenschel was commandant, the approach of the Germans undoubtedly softened. But I do not think that this came about because of his own initiative. Rather, it was due to the overall situation of Germany, to the current political agenda and the pressure exerted by the international community on Berlin, and thus on the executors of policy; in consequence, the treatment of prisoners became a bit more lenient. During Liebehenschel’s tenure, however, Auschwitz did not cease to be a concentration camp. People continued to die, they were still badly fed and badly clothed, and the hygienic conditions were in no way fit for humans. There is no doubt that camp regulations were more strictly enforced, and care was taken to ensure that no official deviations were made from these regulations. Nevertheless, instances of gassings, deaths and selections still occurred in Auschwitz. I myself remember two selections, which were carried out in 1944. Attempts were made to ensure that they did not arouse mass attention, and above all to make sure that no information about them got outside the camp.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions?
Prosecutor Cyprian: Does the witness know about the so-called Aktion-Höß, which was directed against Hungarian Jews, and when it took place?
Witness: Yes, I do. This was towards the end of March or in the beginning of April 1944.
Prosecutor Cyprian: How did this “action”, if at all, affect camp life?
Witness: For the numbered prisoners, who obviously felt terrible and clearly sensed that it was only a question of who was first to die, it brought a certain degree of leniency, for the majority of SS men were involved in the operation and were therefore detailed to their blocks and camps. Their attention was turned mainly to this transport of Hungarian Jews, and thus the regular prisoners could, in a way, relax. They were somewhat forgotten, for no one had the time to persecute them during this period.
Prosecutor Cyprian: You mean to say that this was the explanation for the relative softening of their approach?
Witness: Definitely yes, and all the more so because the food that accompanied the transports of Hungarian Jews, as well as some of the clothes, always reached the inmates in one way or another.
Prosecutor Cyprian: In other words, the authorities were so busy with the extermination that they had no time to occupy themselves with the prisoners?
Witness: Yes, that is correct.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness has presented some numerical data. These were collected on the basis of observations made by the resistance movement that operated on the grounds of the camp?
Witness: Yes, that is correct.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: And so, if – for example – the witness has stated that in March 1944 a specific number of people perished, and thereafter adds the figure of 1,618, I would like to ask whether this gassing operation concerned all three camps, or just one of them?
Witness: Only the female camp.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: And only numbered inmates, not [those who perished in] the Jewish “action”?
Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness gave us a number for January 1944 – 48 boys killed with phenol. Could the witness explain what exactly this “action” consisted in and how the boys found themselves in the camp?
Witness: I observed this operation at the block where I worked as a doctor. I determined one day that 24 young boys had been brought to our block as a group, and that no specific instructions had been given with respect to them. They told me that they had been seized from their families in the Zamość region and transported directly to Auschwitz.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: You mean to say that these children were from the Zamość region?
Witness: Yes. Within two or three days we received the standard card issued by the Lagerarzt [camp doctor], at the time Entress, informing that they were to be killed using phenol. This incident is deeply etched in my memory, all the more so as the executors of the order, two SS men, broke down and, seeing the naked, writhing bodies of two of the boys, said to us – the prisoners and the doctors – that it was easy to pass such a sentence, one that they were unable to carry out. But they carried it out nonetheless.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: It is difficult to call such an order a sentence, this was murder. Who issued this instruction?
Witness: I do not remember.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness mentioned one very interesting incident, concerning the gassing of a transport of women and children from Bydgoszcz, stating that a few days later the pertinent order was rescinded. How should we understand this? Who issued the premature order as to their gassing?
Witness: According to our observations, numerous killings in Auschwitz were carried out prematurely, with excessive haste, on the initiative of individual commanders – independently of instructions given by the Gestapo or Berlin, as the result of an individual’s whim. Some killings were committed ad hoc for technical reasons, e.g. a lack of space in the barracks, a raging epidemic. And thus numerous death sentences were passed and carried out, only to be rescinded by Berlin.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: Who issued such orders?
Witness: We are convinced that it was Grabner, for during his trial in Weimar it was proven that Grabner had on his conscience a number of killings that he had ordered on his own initiative.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: I would like to ask, with reference to information concerning the selections, whether the resistance movement took a closer interest in the so-called Reinhardt action, which consisted in the plunder of victims’ assets by the camp administration?
Witness: During the trial in Weimar, such information was used to charge Grabner with the theft of a part of the gold and other valuables thus pillaged, which he should have sent to Berlin.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: I am not interested in the theft as such, but rather in establishing the value of the assets taken from the Jews.
Witness: This would be difficult to determine, for the items were usually delivered wholesale by train. Ascertaining the value of the assets is hard, for the SS men burned the pertinent documents.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness has testified that during Liebehenschel’s tenure selections were fewer and conducted with greater discretion.
Witness: Fewer and conducted with greater discretion, i.e. not openly as before.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: Did the underground organizations register the number of persons who following selections were transported from Auschwitz I to Birkenau for gassing?
Witness: I remember one such selection vividly – in its course some 600 to 800 inmates were taken from the camp and transferred to block 10.
Prosecutor: On the grounds of camp I?
Witness: Yes, on the grounds of camp I, and thereafter a part of this group was loaded onto trucks and driven off to the gas chambers. Since the resistance movement in Auschwitz had been informed by the Standortarzt [garrison doctor], Wirths, that no more such selections would take place, we used our contacts in the camp to inform Wirths that the selection was indeed taking place. As a result, some 200 or 300 persons who had not yet been removed from block 10 were saved from the gas chamber. This was due to the intervention of the Standortarzt.
Presiding Judge: Does the defense have any questions?
Defense attorneys: No.
Presiding Judge: The accused Liebehenschel may submit a statement.
The accused: I have a question to the witness. The witness referred to camp I, of which I was the commandant for a few months. You admitted that the approach to prisoners was softened – and this fact has already been mentioned here a few times – but also stated that crimes continued to be committed. I would ask the witness to inform me who gave the pertinent orders? Was it I? And who carried out these crimes in the camp during my period of office, who was present when they were committed?
Witness: These crimes continued to be committed at the camp in spite of the fact that the commandant publicly declared that the conditions in Auschwitz had improved considerably. And even if it was the commandant’s express will to improve the situation, he would first have had to replace the entire SS camp staff to get rid of the perpetrators. For this personnel could not change over the course of one day or one hour, just because a new commandant had been appointed. It was in the nature of these sadistic murderers to kill prisoners, and thus an order imposed from above – even if it was the result of the commandant’s good will or his instruction – could not have changed these SS men. I did not see commandant Liebehenschel at any of the beatings or killings of prisoners.
The accused Grabner: Esteemed Tribunal, may I ask a question of the witness?
Presiding Judge: Yes.
The accused: The witness has charged me with being a murderer, etc., at Auschwitz, stating that I had been arrested by the German authorities for this reason and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for my offenses. The witness has further declared that the garrison doctor, Wirths, did not conduct selections and was considered the best physician of the garrison. Well, I would like to state that it was I who informed Berlin, specifically the criminal police inspector, Nebel, and count Helldorf that Wirths conducted selections, and it is for this reason that I was put before court – because I knew these secrets, and in consequence I was to be removed from my position. I can provide exact information – however I do not have the pertinent documents before me – as to where Wirths was at the time, and that it was he who carried out this “action”, also in the Gypsy camp. For this reason – because I had notified Wirths of the goings on – I was summoned to Berlin, while Lohling was also summoned in the same case on a number of occasions. This concerned the case of the gesondert untergebracht [prisoners who were “specially lodged”]. Following Lohling’s departure, a commission arrived and asked me about my accusations concerning Wirths and Höß.
I would like to add that it is a well-known fact that the documents which I had gathered were taken from me and put on a cart even before the commission arrived. What is more, Höß and Wirths appointed a few special functionaries who conducted a search in my office. They were looking for all sorts of documents and evidence gathered by the political department concerning executions and the gesondert untergebracht. They took this evidence with them and carted it away, under the supervision of the adjutant, to the crematorium, where these materials were incinerated. I was told by an Obersturmbannführer who had arrived from Berlin that the Reichsführer had personally ordered the immediate destruction of the entirety of evidence concerning executions and the gesondert untergebracht. This order was to be carried out by six o’clock.
I was arrested 14 days later. They asked me about my accusations with respect to Höß and Wirths. A search was carried out in my place of residence. Mr. Kalbert was a witness thereto. They took my last documents and secret orders. These were placed in a barrack which – only a few days after my arrest – suddenly burned down. Thereafter I was once more interrogated in the case. They asked me again what I had against these people, while I – not knowing that the barrack had burned down – replied that Höß and Wirths had committed all the acts set forward in the documents that I held there. The response was thus: we are sorry to inform you that the barrack has burned down.
I was then taken from Auschwitz to Katowice, and from there to Munich, to the concentration camp at Dachau; while there, on 20 July, I was summoned to criminal inspector Löbel. It turned out that all of the reports that I had written about the situation in the camp and the murders being committed there had been found in the place of residence of inspector Löbel. In consequence, I was even associated with the 20 July plot. Next, while I was imprisoned at Prince Albert Street, someone turned up from Himmler’s chancellery, took a look at me, and inquired, “Whatever do you want, little man? You will be given a reply within a few days”. Thereafter I was taken to Breslau and thrown into prison. I was asked all sorts of questions, among others whether I continued to support my statement and if I was aware what happens to those who know state secrets. But since the front was drawing near, I was moved once again to Berlin. There, two functionaries armed with machine pistols dragged me out of prison, but since the Russians were closing in, I managed to escape.
Presiding Judge: Does the accused want to pose any questions?
The accused Grabner: Yes. As regards the mass murders committed using phenol injections. How was I supposed to have performed phenol injections and carried out shootings?
Witness: I would like to state that some of the people who were earmarked for phenol had received sentences issued by the Auschwitz political department. I personally saw the accused Grabner and other SS men in block 20, where the phenol injections were administered.
Presiding Judge: Does the accused have any further questions?
The accused Grabner: This was completely impossible, for I saw nothing of the sort.
Presiding Judge: This is testimony, while I asked whether the accused had any further questions.
Accused Grabner: No, thank you.
Presiding Judge: Do the prosecutors and defense attorneys have any questions for the witness?
Defense attorneys: No.
Presiding Judge: The witness may step down. I order a recess of 10 minutes.