Ninth day of the hearing.

Presiding Judge: Next witness, please: Stanisław Zelent.

(Witness Stanisław Zelent approaches the stand.)

Witness: Stanisław Zelent, 42 years old, engineer, 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 tell 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 testify without an oath. What can the witness say about the case, and the defendants in particular? Please look at the defendants. Does the witness recognize anyone?

Witness: Among the defendants I recognize Mussfeldt. There was only one name more terrifying than his in the camp, and that was the name Thumann. During the late period of the Majdanek camp, Mussfeldt took over Thumann’s duties. His name caused such dread in the camp because all kinds of particular actions were associated with it. That was the general opinion of him. As for my personal observations, I spoke to Mussfeldt once, when I had to go to the crematorium, carrying the body of a prisoner. There was another prisoner with me, a German with Silesian roots, named Wawrzyniak. Mussfeldt himself received us in the crematorium. There was a brief conversation when he noticed I had a letter P on my triangle. He asked me why I was in the camp and for what crime. I answered that I was in for political activity. To this, Mussfeldt answered that had I not been so stupid, and other Poles as well, they would not need to send us through the crematoria. That was the meaning of his words, more or less, I cannot vouch for them being identical, as a long time has passed since. It was my personal encounter with Mussfeldt. I later heard that he took part in the operation of liquidating the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. It was in the summer of 1943.

I worked in the carpentry workshop and was sent alongside other colleagues to a small shooting range in Majdanek to prepare it for the upcoming shooting competition for SS men. When we set up the targets and got the shooting stands in order, we were told to carry screens, that is, block parts, from the Bauhof [construction storage] depot; they were 2 by 1.1 or 1.2 meters large. We had to set up several dozen such screens in front of the range to separate it from the nearby road. This work had to be done in great haste, every half an hour an SS man would come to get us to hurry up. When we were almost done, cars with furniture started to arrive at the range. At first we did not understand what was the point of all that. It was only after three weeks when several dozen prisoners were brought in to clean it up, and we had realized in the meantime because of the clouds of smoke coming from the range for two or three weeks, that bodies were burned there. The layer of dirt to be tossed was greasy with fat, a fresh layer of sand had to be put on it; the grass on the embankments around [the range] was burned, there was the so-called improvised shooting range nearby, which had pits filled with ashes – bones and twisted iron railings. Due to the operation performed there that day I saw Mussfeldt, who was preparing it.

As for other actions, I saw firsthand in the autumn of 1942 more than a dozen Jewish boys in block 3 being called to a roll call. They probably sensed they were going to be gassed, so during the roll call one of them shouted a signal to the others to scatter around the potato field [and] among the peas growing between the blocks [?]. The boys were only found four hours later, as they had to look for them everywhere, they even hid in the sewer pipes. All Blockführers were called in for the search. After they were all caught, the boys were locked up at field 3, near block 19. During the roll call orders were issued to clear the field and close the blocks, but through cracks in the walls and doors I could see the SS men, armed, with revolvers in their hands, lead the boys to the Gaskammer [gas chamber]. On that same day, once or twice, I saw Mussfeldt in the field. It was known to everyone that all executions took place in the new crematorium, as the old one was put out of commission after the new one was set up. The executions [of prisoners] from the Lublin Castle (and the prisoners of Majdanek) took place in that crematorium. It was said in our field that Mussfeldt himself took part in those executions several times, that he would shoot people in the back, as the prisoners had to disrobe in the crematorium and run out towards the slope to the ditch in groups of one or two. Then they would be shot from behind. This news came to us from the so-called Krematorien-Bäse, it was a kommando of Mussfeldt’s that worked inside the crematorium itself. From there we received news and even descriptions of individual incidents. It was said that when a partisan woman or a woman from the castle refused to strip, Mussfeldt would finish her off alive.

As for the activity in the old crematorium during the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, we heard about it from the prisoners who had the opportunity to watch the crematorium building from field 1. That crematorium was between fields 1 and 2. Dr. Gabriel, who was shot when we were escaping from the same transport together (a man whom I trust one hundred percent), told me that it was in the old crematorium where people were killed in a very simple way, especially women and youths, namely by being struck with a short pipe or an appropriate club in the nape, at the base of the skull. With all that massive production, during the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, where, as we calculated, 30,000 to 40,000 Jews had to go through Majdanek, only some of them appeared in the camp records, the rest were not recorded. They were killed in actions that were organized also outside of the crematoria (the crematoria could not handle such a great number of people), in pyres organized just like the shooting ranges I described.

Mussfeldt’s name was associated with all those actions and beyond a doubt rightfully so, as aside from the exceptional sadist that Thumann was, Mussfeldt was the most terrifying man in Majdanek. His attitude to these matters can be summarized by a phrase I heard from his colleague, the garage director; when, after one such operation, when the car trailers were brought up for cleaning, and there were pieces of human skin with hair, bits of flesh, drops of blood, he said: “Faster, wash off that pig meat”.

Presiding Judge: I have no questions. Does anyone want to ask a question?

Judge Cieśluk: The witness has testified that Mussfeldt “finished women off alive”. What does the witness mean by that?

Witness: It was said that he put her still alive into the oven on a cart.

Prosecutor Gacki: Is the witness aware of the mass shooting of Jews on 3 November 1943?

Witness: Yes.

Prosecutor: What was the role of defendant Mussfeldt during that action?

Witness: I find it hard to say what was the role of defendant Mussfeldt, as I only heard shots accompanied by merry melodies from the speakers, and did not see the process, as we were isolated in field 3, which is quite far away from the crematorium and field 5. Mussfeldt had one of the most important roles beyond a doubt during the action itself on the site, as it required a specialist.

Prosecutor: Where in the camp did the mass shooting of 3 November take place?

Witness: In field 5, like all of them.

Prosecutor: Was that near the crematorium?

Witness: Right past the crematorium, near the so-called L-barrack, in field 5. After disrobing, the people were brought out in fives, then lined up in hundreds.

Prosecutor: What was Mussfeldt’s position in the camp hierarchy at the time?

Witness: He was the chief of the crematorium.

Prosecutor: How many people were shot then?

Witness: Between 17,000 and 17,500. The Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes determined the number to be 18,000.

Prosecutor: When did that take place?

Witness: The entire action took place within a single day, between 9.00 a.m. and 10 or 11.00 p.m.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: Aside from the crematorium, there was also a gas chamber there. Was that chamber also subordinate to Mussfeldt, I mean did he direct the gassing operations in the camp?

Witness: I find that hard to answer, as I was isolated from such things.

Prosecutor: The witness has mentioned the boys caught in the potato field being sent to the gas, and that Mussfeldt appeared there a couple times. How should I understand that he appeared there? Was he merely present, or did he issue commands during the search for the children?

Witness: I saw Mussfeldt peek out into field 3 during that time, something he would never do, so it was clear for us that – like when Thumann showed up at the field – it would lead to some unpleasant consequences. When Mussfeldt came to the field, to the isolated block, everyone knew there was a risk of some sort of action.