Eighth day of the proceedings.

Presiding Judge: Next witness, please: Józef Plaskura.

(Witness Józef Plaskura takes the stand.)

Presiding Judge: Please state your personal details.

Witness: Józef Plaskura, 36 years old, clerk in the state administration; religion: Roman Catholic; no relation to the defendants.

Presiding Judge: I advise the witness that per Art. 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure he is obliged to speak the truth. False testimony is punishable by incarceration for up to five years. Do the parties offer any motions regarding the manner of questioning?

Prosecution: No.

Defense: No.

Presiding Judge: Therefore the witness will be heard without an oath. The witness will please tell us what he knows about the case itself and the defendants.

Witness: I arrived at the camp on 20 June 1940. I was there until the end of 1944, I worked at the water supply installation kommando, first under Bauleiter [construction overseer] Bischof, then Möckel. Due to my function, I had the right to enter any room within the Auschwitz camp and in Birkenau. At first, Möckel performed the duties of the camp administration director, and took up those duties whenever a room was handed over for use or a building was completed by the Bauleitung [camp construction department]. Therefore, after taking over the crematorium, defendant Möckel provided fuel for those rooms to burn bodies and maintained the devices of the crematorium. He was also the one who received the payments for the prisoners the camp administration provided [as labor] to the mines or to “Buna” [Werke]. I personally do not know about any incidents of Möckel torturing prisoners and I have not seen any, as he dealt only with the administration. That is all I can say about him.

Further, I know Liebehenschel, Aumeier, Grabner, Josten, Gehring, Müller, Plagge, and Szczurek. As for Liebehenschel, I can say that when he took over command of the camp the situation improved, but dozens of shootings and gassings still took place. Aumeier was one of the sadists of the Auschwitz camp, whom I had the opportunity to observe when he tortured the prisoners. Aumeier definitely remembers the infamous Birkenau massacre in June of 1942, when, together with defendant Grabner, he was performing a purge after a failed escape attempt by the Strafkommando [penal work detail] prisoners. Some 20 people were shot then, and more were gassed the following day. I state that it was their [the defendants’] sole responsibility, as it was impossible for Berlin to issue within just one day an order to gas a large number of prisoners. Defendant Aumeier often also shot at groups of prisoners in the Auschwitz camp, sometimes wounding them. As for defendant Grabner, I personally have not met him, but I know that whenever he entered the camp grounds everyone feared him.

I also wanted to make a special mention of defendant Plagge, whom I may perhaps call a second Palitzsch. He tortured prisoners in his own unique way: through gymnastics, which he specialized at; he beat the prisoners cruelly.

That would be more or less all.

Presiding Judge: Are there any questions for the witness?

Prosecutor Szewczyk: How long did the witness work in the Bauleitungsdienst [construction service]?

Witness: Between 1942 and August of 1944.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: Can the witness say how much attention was required from the management, especially Möckel, to maintain and care for the crematoria and gassing? Were repairs frequent?

Witness: There was a special column for that purpose, which performed daily maintenance on the crematoria and any necessary repairs.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: They worked on the gas chambers as well?

Witness: That was not the job of our column, that was the water piping column.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: How did Möckel perform oversight?

Witness: Möckel was the chief of the Verwaltung [camp administration]. There was no water in the chambers. The crematorium had pumps for a system installed around the entire building.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: But, aside from the water supply, fans, doors, etc. would also break down. Which column repaired those?

Witness: The electric column, also subordinate to Möckel.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: So he managed it all and was the director of the entire treasury department?

Witness: Yes, indeed.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness has mentioned that defendant Möckel was in charge of profiting from prisoner labor, e.g. liquidating accounts.

Witness: As for profiting from labor, I do not know, but he did receive and manage accounts.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: That is, the financial side?

Witness: Yes, indeed.

Prosecutor Szewczyk: Did prisoner work requirements increase when Möckel was in the camp administration and after Liebehenschel took over the commandant’s office?

Witness: No.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: The witness has mentioned Gehring and Müller. Can the witness name any specific facts demonstrating their attitude towards the prisoners?

Witness: As for Müller, I saw how he conducted gymnastics exercises and tortured the prisoners in that way.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: Were these gymnastics some form of punitive exercise?

Witness: Yes, indeed.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: The witness has mentioned Szczurek. Maybe [the witness] would say something more about his actions?

Witness: I did not personally encounter Szczurek. All I can say is that I saw him as one of the more zealous SS men.

Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions?

Defense Attorney Kossek: The witness has stated that gassing went on under Liebehenschel. Can he say when was this and how many times?

Witness: The gassings were frequent, at least in the case of prisoners working outside of Auschwitz. Two to three times a month. These were the mine workers, already destroyed by labor – they were gassed and new people were brought in to work in their place.

Defense Attorney Kossek: Did this happen under Liebehenschel?

Witness: Yes, indeed.

Defense Attorney Kossek: Where was the gassing performed?

Witness: In the Birkenau crematorium.

Defense Attorney Kossek: How does the witness know that?

Witness: Because due to my function I had the opportunity to go even to Birkenau; besides, our colleagues kept us informed about what was happening there.

Defense Attorney Kossek: I ask because we have had witnesses here saying gassing did not take place under Liebehenschel.

Witness: I state that gassing was performed as manpower in the mines declined, two, three times a month.

Defense Attorney Kossek: Has the witness attended the gassing, even just once?

Witness: No, but I saw the groups that went to be gassed. They were dirty, because they were mine workers.

Defense Attorney Kossek: How does the witness know they were to be gassed?

Witness: It was clear to us in the camp.

Defense Attorney Kossek: Does the witness know who ordered the gassing?

Witness: The gassing was always ordered by whoever was in charge of the camp at the time.

Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions?

Defendant Möckel: Can the witness tell me which crematorium did I take over and when did I manage it?

Witness: I cannot know that, as I could not have seen the documents filed by the Bauleitung while handing over the crematorium to the defendant.

Defendant Möckel: Can the witness say in what way did the Bauleitungstelle [Bauleitung office] or my service posting hand the building over and how did it happen?

Witness: I do not know the affairs between the Bauleitungstelle and the Verwaltung, but I know that the Verwaltung column existed and was involved in the maintenance of these things.

Defendant: Was it a construction column?

Witness: A water plumbing column, piping repair. Its direct superior was Hatzinger from the installation column and Rottenführer Becker in the sewage system column. Oberscharführer Böhm was there as well.

Presiding Judge: Does the defendant have any further questions?

Defendant: No.

Presiding Judge. The witness is excused. (Defendant Kraus speaks up at this point, prompting the Presiding Judge to hold the witness.)

Defendant Kraus: Could the witness answer me if he knows when did the last transports arrive in Birkenau?

Witness: Which transports do you mean?

Defendant: The transports for the gassing.

Witness: In 1944, transports were still coming, in smaller numbers. The greatest intensity was in 1943.

Defendant: I would like to know the date of the last one.

Witness: Those things were constant, so I find it hard to speak of months or even days.

Defendant: Does the witness know when the last gassing took place?

Witness: No, because I was released in August.

Presiding Judge: Defendant Grabner.

Defendant Grabner: May I ask the witness about his release?

Witness: As for my release, I forgot to ask, regarding defendant Grabner, who, during his three or four days of questioning stated that he aided some Poles in obtaining release from the camp – I would like to ask if he recognizes me?

Defendant: Yes.

Witness: Well, I have never met defendant Grabner in person. I was not presented for the so-called Vorführung – recommendation for release. I was only presented to Obersturmbannführer Liebehenschel.

Defendant: I must state in that regard that I was asked by the construction department to help with his release.

Witness: I shall remind Untersturmführer Grabner and aid his memory: my brother, who was in the Bauleitung, presented prosecutor Kurowski with a statement and a request to be called as a witness to explain what defendant Grabner’s help with his release was like.

Presiding Judge: Are there any questions for the witness?

Prosecution and defense: None.

Presiding Judge: The witness is excused.