Eight day of the proceedings.
Presiding Judge: Next witness, please, Józef Paczyński.
(Witness Józef Paczyński approaches the stand.)
Presiding Judge: Please state your personal information.
Witness: Józef Paczyński, 27 years old, white-collar worker; religion: Roman Catholic; no relation to the defendants.
Presiding Judge: I advise the witness as per Art. 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that he is obliged to speak the truth. False testimony is punishable by incarceration for up to five years. Do the parties offer any motions as to the manner of questioning of the witness?
Presiding Judge: The witness will be heard without an oath. May the witness please say what he knows about the case and particularly in regard to the defendants in this room.
Witness: I arrived in Auschwitz on 14 June 1940, in one of the first transports, and I was there until the end, until the camp was shut down. After arriving in the quarantine, I met defendant Plagge. Once we entered the block we were stripped down, all of our personal effects and foodstuffs were taken away. The next day we started the so-called sports, run by defendant Plagge. They were exercises: running, jumping, dancing and so forth. It went on for two weeks. One day I went to the barber to shave. Plagge, with Wieczorek, came in and chased us all away, beating us with sticks that he had in his hand. Two of us fell to the ground and Plagge beat them up so badly they were taken to the hospital on the upper floor of the same block. Then we were moved into the newly opened camp Auschwitz I. Back then there were only blocks 1, 2, and 3. I went to work there in the barbershop for the SS men and I held that job until the end of the camp’s existence. One day a colleague of ours, one Wiejowski, escaped.
A stójka [extended standing in the roll call square] was arranged as punishment. It lasted the entire night, until 4.00 or 5.00 a.m on Sunday. We stood there barefoot, without shirts or long underwear. During the day it was warm, but the night was very cool. Plagge, with a stick in his hand, and the other SS men made sure the stójka was conducted properly. The next day was hot, people who had been exhausted by the stójka and the heat started to waver. Over a hundred of them blacked out, the only help they could receive was a bucket of water to the head. Under orders from Doctor Papież those victims were taken to the block. At four or five in the morning, also under the doctor’s orders, all the prisoners were dismissed.
Plagge was one of the first Blockführers [block leaders], he conducted searches and wrote reports about the prisoners. In 1942, in the summer, he conducted selections of prisoners in front of the kitchen. It lasted from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. Plagge was alone, accompanied only by a prisoner from the fire watch, who separated people on his order. The prisoners would walk in front of Plagge with their pants legs up and he checked if any of them had swollen or thin legs. The selected prisoners were taken to the basement of block 17 or 18, I do not remember exactly which. The next day we went to work like normal and a car arrived to pick up the selected prisoners and take them to Birkenau. There they were gassed.
Next I would like to speak about defendant Grabner. I also met him after coming to the camp, but he visited us relatively rarely. I did not begin to have more constant contact with him until I was in the parent camp. I remember that after Wiejowski’s escape Grabner personally conducted an investigation to find his associates. As a result, nine prisoners were sent to Mauthausen and three never returned. One of them was the brother of a surviving student in the Mining Academy in Kraków. I encountered defendant Grabner frequently, almost every day, in the barbershop. Opposite us was the office of the political department. Interrogations were held there, often from morning until late at night. The prisoners were in the hallway, waiting for their turn. They were beaten up and handcuffed. The beatings took place in individual rooms of the political department. The screams and wailing could be heard all throughout the building. It was essentially the same building, we were simply downstairs and they were upstairs.
In the summer of 1942, Grabner and Aumeier brought a transport of some 500 prisoners into Birkenau. They were Jews – invalids, old, and young. They were brought to a small crematorium in Birekanu and shoved inside. I watched it all from the so-called Führerheim[SS hotel and canteen], opposite the crematorium. SS man Teuer, who is not here, went onto the roof, opened a cover and dumped in the gas. We could hear wailing in the crematorium. To conceal those wails, two cars would go back and forth. But the wails could be heard anyway. Less than half an hour later, the fans were turned on and regular work resumed in the crematorium.
I was told by the late prisoner Mietek, who was a stoker in the crematorium and whom Grabner definitely remembers well, that Grabner gave him a liter of vodka to get him to work well in the crematorium.
In 1941 I saw Grabner before block 11 was opened. The executions would take place opposite the Führerstube [SS offices] building; Grabner conducted executions there. All the German citizens of Oświęcim would come to see them, even the town police. Another thing that I saw there was Fritsch finishing off prisoners who were still alive after being shot.
Next I shall speak about defendant Aumeier. In 1942 the camp management was changed, Aumeier came from Flossenbürg to take over from Fritsch. He called about a hundred criminals from that camp to educate us under Aumeier’s instruction. All those kapos received sticks and an order to treat us as harshly as possible. This resulted in a growing number of dead bodies at the evening roll calls. Day after day more than a dozen or even several dozen dead bodies were laid near us.
One day, when we were coming back from work for the evening roll call, we saw, to the left of the entrance to the block looking from the outside in, just next to block 24, five prisoners – bloodied, with open wounds, half dead. Defendant Aumeier stood next to them. It was probably the result of an escape attempt. After an execution, Aumeier would come to the Führerheim, that is, the officers’ canteen, usually happy, and drink vodka with the others. Also when he came to us, to the barbershop, he would talk very happily. I would watch Aumeier leave for Birkenau with Grabner, they would then come to us in the morning, you could see they were fatigued after an entire night. It looked like they were coming to work in the morning after working all night. They were generally not allowed to talk in our presence, but from bits and pieces of their conversation I could figure out where they had been and what they had been doing.
Next, the matter of prisoner escapes. Under Aumeier, if a prisoner ran away, their entire family was brought to the camp. When seven prisoners escaped from the kitchen, their families were brought in to replace them. There is a witness in that case, who escaped and whose mother was brought in to replace him. His name is Kazimierz Albin, he is a student at the Kraków University of Technology.
Presiding Judge: What else can the witness say about the specific defendants?
Witness: Josten was in Auschwitz from 1940 until the end, if I am not mistaken. In 1941, from block 24, from the attic, I watched Josten lead an execution squad to shoot prisoners. Later I saw Josten shoot prisoners behind the Stabsgebäude [military staff building]. 70 prisoners were shot that day. Defendant Plagge was one of those escorting the prisoners to the place of execution.
Defendant Bogusch was in the sentry company at the very beginning, later on he was moved to Hessler’s [Hössler’s?] office as a clerk. He was a Blockführer in the meantime. I remember how he beat up my colleague on the walkway between the Blockführerstube [guardhouse] and the SS Revier [hospital] for not noticing him and not taking his cap off.
Szczurek would also go on searches of the blocks, searches at the gate, and a proof of his involvement in the gassing is the scar on his neck which he got from one Jew he was pushing into the gas chamber. The Supreme Tribunal can see the scar.
Bogusch, Szczurek, Ludwig, and Plagge all participated in the gassing, and a proof of that is that they received a special food bonus from the SS kitchen, namely sausage and vodka. Ludwig was with them as well and also took this extraordinary bonus. I met Ludwig on the block drunk, very often after he had conducted a search and then gotten drunk alongside German prisoners.
Presiding Judge: Do the defendants have any statements to make regarding the witness’s testimony?
Defense Attorney Rappaport: I wanted to ask a question of the witness. You said that Plagge took part in the selection and selected prisoners on the ramp.
Witness: Not on the ramp, in the camp.
Defense Attorney: I wanted to ask if he did that on his own or was a doctor there?
Witness: There was no doctor there, just Plagge.
Defense Attorney: Thank you.
Defense Attorney Minasowicz: The witness says Bogusch took part in the gassing and that his receiving extra food from the SS kitchen was proof of that. Did you see him during any gassing operations?
Witness: I did not, as I did not go to Birkenau at all.
Defense Attorney: Where was the witness?
Witness: In the Auschwitz I camp.
Defense Attorney: Do you know what was Bogusch’s function at the camp?
Witness: He was the Lagerführer ’s [camp leader’s] secretary.
Defense Attorney: How do you know he took part in gassing?
Witness: All officials were called in for that job.
Defense Attorney: Do you not think he could have received that bonus for being a functionary?
Witness: No, only those who took part in the gassing would receive the bonus.
Defendant Aumeier: As for the witness’s story, I would like to say I never had the ability to bring professional criminals from Flossenbürg, as the transfers from one camp to another could only be arranged by Gruppenführer General Glücke. I therefore suppose the witness is wrong.
Witness: I am definitely not wrong. This may have been arranged on a higher level, but soon after Aumeier, a hundred prisoners from Flossenbürg arrived in Auschwitz. One of them worked with us at the barbershop.
Defendant: I do not deny they may have come, I deny it was I who brought them. I could not have caused that. There would have to have been some written communication in that regard, and I do not know of any, and neither can the witness know of such a thing.
As for the witness I can state that he, and he in particular, should remember that when he was sick with typhus I took special care of him, particularly talking to the camp doctor to do all he could to keep the witness alive. I gave an order at the time for the prisoner’s kitchen to provide him with a special diet and sent him cigarettes through the camp elder. The witness will surely recall he never saw me in the prisoners’ hospital, as I had no right of entry there. I constantly asked the witness’s colleagues who shaved me how he was faring until he was cured. I am convinced his colleagues informed him that I asked about him.
Witness: Defendant Aumeier did order me treated in 1944, when I was laid up with the typhus, but it seems he only did so because they needed me. The defendant says he ordered the SS to issue extra food. Indeed they issued it, but the order said “only from the surplus”, so we simply got potatoes.
Defendant Szczurek: I would like to ask the witness to explain how does he know I was wounded during gassing?
Witness: I heard from Puchalik, who was with me in the barbershop, that Szczurek had a wrapping around his neck because he was wounded by a prisoner during gassing.
Defendant Szczurek: There is an inaccuracy here, or maybe a confusion of persons.
Defendant Bogusch: I petition the High Tribunal to be able to ask the witness when it was that I was a block leader, which blocks did I run and which ones did I manage.
Witness: I cannot name them precisely, in any case block 3a, where I would often see Bogusch; it was in 1943.
Defendant Bogusch: In 1943 I had so much work in administration, since Unterscharführer Gross was laid up with the typhus, that it was impossible for me to have left the office even for a moment. This can be confirmed by the clerk who was employed with the report leader. Finally, I want to ask when did I take part in actions near the gas chambers, what year and what month? It was impossible, because I was not used for that, there was a special team for it. I also did not receive the better food that the SK [Strafkompanie, penal company] would receive.
Presiding Judge: Defendant Josten, please.
Defendant Josten: Your Honor, I want to petition for one question. The witness says I took part in an execution that was performed behind the staff building or, alternatively, that I performed it. The witness allegedly watched it happen from the window of a barrack in one of the camps. I ask the witness, how far away was it?
Witness: Around 500 meters.
Defendant Josten: And the witness says I took part in an execution behind the staff building and that he recognized me from 500 meters. I state that I took no part in that execution. I repeat that under orders from commandant Höß I conducted an execution in the gravel pits and nowhere else. That would be all.
Presiding Judge: Defendant Grabner may present his statement.
Defendant Grabner: High Tribunal! The witness accuses me of sending prisoners to Mauthausen, namely those who were charged with escaping. I must say here that the witness, who was employed in the SS barbershop from morning until night, could not have seen that. Secondly, it was not my task to do that and I could not have issued an order for a prisoner to be sent to the Mauthausen camp. It could only be done by orders from Berlin. Moreover, the prisoner supposedly saw executions performed behind the staff building by civilians and police and supposedly recognized us there. It would be an absolute impossibility, as the witness could not observe us from that distance, and, working in the SS barbershop, he could not leave it during the day. The witness should recall the treatment he received from me. The witness knows very well I tried to assist in his release from the camp. The witness also knows I managed to obtain the release of three barbers who worked with the witness.
Witness: Defendant Grabner would promise to release me, but that release never came.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions?
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Can the witness remember defendant Müller? Where did the witness meet him?
Witness: I met him when he was in the sentry company. Later on he was a Blockführer.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did Müller ever beat anybody?
Witness: Yes, he beat up my colleagues. Later he was the Blockführer at block 11, I do not know what his actions were like there, as I was there very rarely. He was subsequently promoted to Unterscharführer.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did the witness see Müller actively involved on the ramp in Birkenau?
Witness: I did not see that, as I have never been there.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did the witness see his actions in the parent camp?
Witness: Yes, I did. During selections, for which all prisoners from the entire camp were assembled, all SS men had to be present too, and Aumeier or his deputy Kaduk were always there.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Does the witness remember the gassing in crematorium I? Were Kirschner and Koch not present for it?
Witness: I could not observe that.
Presiding Judge: Are there any more questions?
Defendant Ludwig: I would petition that the witness be asked when did he see me take part in selections.
Witness: I know from my colleagues that the defendant would receive bonuses given only to the SS men who took active part in selections.
Defendant Ludwig: I was not authorized to conduct selections.
Presiding Judge: Any further questions for the witness?
Presiding Judge: Therefore the witness is excused. I call a 20-minute recess.