Testimonies of Auschwitz SS-Men


From the statement of Hans Stark, registrar of new arrivals, Auschwitz.


At another, later gassing--also in autumn 1941--Grabner* ordered me to pour Zyklon B into the opening because only one medical orderly had shown up. During a gassing Zyklon B had to be poured through both openings of the gas-chamber room at the same time. This gassing was also a transport of 200-250 Jews, once again men, women and children. As the Zyklon B--as already mentioned--was in granular form, it trickled down over the people as it was being poured in. They then started to cry out terribly for they now knew what was happening to them. I did not look through the opening because it had to be closed as soon as the Zyklon B had been poured in. After a few minutes there was silence. After some time had passed, it may have been ten to fifteen minutes, the gas chamber was opened. The dead lay higgledy-piggedly all over the place. It was a dreadful sight.





Testimony of SS private Hoeblinger.


I was detailed to the transport service and I drove the Sanka  (Sanitatskraftwagon/medical truck) which was to carry the prisoners....


Then we drove to the gas chambers. The medical orderlies climbed a ladder, they had gas masks up there, and emptied the cans. I was able to observe the prisoners while they were undressing. It always proceeded quitely and without them suspecting anything. It happened very quickly.




Testimony of SS private Boeck.


Q: were you present at a gassing operation one day?


A: Yes, it was one evening. I accompanied the driver Hoeblinger. A transport had arrived from Holland and the prisoners had to jump from the wagons. They were well-off Jews. There were women with Persian furs. They arrived by express train. The trucks were already there, with wooden steps before them, and the people climbed aboard. Then they all started off. In the place Birkenau once stood, there was only a long farmhouse (Bunker 2) and beside it four or five big huts. Inside, the people were standing on clothes which were building up on the floor. The block leader and the sergeant, carrying a cane, were there. Hoeblinger said to me 'lets go over there now'. There was a sign 'to disinfection'. He said 'you see, they are bringing children now'. They opened the door, threw the children in and closed the door. There was a terrible cry. A member of the SS climbed on the roof. The people went on crying for about ten minutes. Then the prisoners opened the doors. Everything was in disorder and contorted. Heat was given off. The bodies were loaded on a rough wagon and taken to a ditch. The next batch were already undressing in the huts. After that I didn't look at my wife for four weeks.





Testimony of SS-Unterscharfuehrer Pery Broad, describing gassing in Krema I in Auschwitz.


... The "disinfectors" were at work. One of them was SS-Unterscharführer Teuer, decorated with the Cross of War Merit. With a chisel and a hammer they opened a few innocuously looking tins which bore the inscription "Cyclon, to be used against vermin. Attention, poison! to be opened by trained personnel only!". The tins were filled to the brim with blue granules the size of peas. Immediately after opening the tins, their contents was thrown into the holes which were then quickly covered. Meanwhile Grabner gave a sign to the driver of a lorry, which had stopped close to the crematorium. The driver started the motor and its deafening noise was louder than the death cries of the hundreds of people inside, being gassed to death.





Testimonies of SS-Men from Various Camps




Testimony of SS Scharführer Erich Fuchs, in the Sobibor-Bolender trial, Dusseldorf.



....We unloaded the motor. It was a heavy Russian benzine engine, at least 200 horsepower. we installed the engine on a concrete foundation and set up the connection between the exhaust and the tube.


I then tested the motor. It did not work. I was able to repair the ignition and the valves, and the motor finally started running. The chemist, who I knew from Belzec, entered the gas chamber with measuring instruments to test the concentration of the gas.


Following this, a gassing experiment was carried out. If my memory serves me right, about thirty to forty women were gassed in one gas chamber. The Jewish women were forced to undress in an open place close to the gas chamber, and were driven into the gas chamber by the above mentioned SS members and the Ukrainian auxiliaries. when the women were shut up in the gas chamber I and Bolender set the motor in motion. The motor functioned first in neutral. Both of us stood by the motor and switched from "Neutral" (Freiauspuff) to "Cell" (Zelle), so that the gas was conveyed to the chamber. At the suggestion of the chemist, I fixed the motor on a definite speed so that it was unnecessary henceforth to press on the gas. About ten minutes later the thirty to forty women were dead.






From the testimony of SS-Unterscharfuehrer Wilhelm Bahr in his trial at Hamburg.



Q: Is it correct that you have gassed 200 Russian POW's with Zyklon-B?


A: Yes, on orders.


Q: Where did you do that?


A: In Neuengamme.


Q: On whose order?


A: The local doctor, Dr. Von Bergmann.


Q: With what gas?


A: With Prussic acid or Zyklon-B.


Q: How long did the Russians take to die?


A: I do not know. I only obeyed orders.


Q: How long did it take to gas the Russians?


A: I returned after two hours and they were all dead.


Q: For what purpose did you go away?


A: That was during lunch hour.


Q: You left for your lunch and came back afterwards?


A: Yes.


Q: Were they dead when you came back?


A: Yes.


Q: Did you look at their bodies?


A: Yes, because I had to load them.


Q: Why did you apply the gas to the Russians?


A: I only had orders to pour in the gas and I do not know anything about it.






SS-Doctor Kremer at a hearing on 18 July 1947.


I remember I once took part in the gassing of one of these groups of women in Auschwitz. I cannot say how big the group was. when I got close to the bunker I saw them sitting on the ground. They were still clothed. As they were wearing worn-out camp clothing they were not left in the undressing hut but made to undress in the open air. I concluded from the behavior of these women that they had no doubt what fate awaited them, as they begged and sobbed to the SS men to spare them their lives. However, they were herded into the gas chambers and gassed. As an anatomist I have seen a lot of terrible things: I had had a lot of experience with dead bodies, and yet what I saw that day was like nothing I had ever seen before. Still completely shocked by what I had seen I wrote on my diary on 5 September 1942: "The most dreadful of horrors. Hauptscharf¨hrer Thilo was right when he said to me today that this is the 'anus mundi', the anal orifice of the world". I used this image because I could not imagine anything more disgusting and horrific.





Testimony of Magnus Wochner, SS guard at the Natzweiler Concentration Camp.


... I recall particularly one mass execution when about 90 prisoners (60 men and 30 women), all Jews, were killed by gassing. This took place, as far as I can remember, in spring 1944. In this case the corpses were sent to Professor Hirt of the department of Anatomy in Strasbourg.





Testimony of SS Oberscharführer Erich Bauer


Usually the undressing went smoothly. Subsequently, the Jews were taken through the "tube" to Camp III - the real extermination camp. The transfer through the "tube" proceeded as follows: one SS man was in the lead and five or six Ukrainian auxiliaries were at the back hastening the Jews along. The women were taken through a barracks where their hair was cut off. In Camp III the Jews were received by an SS man... As I already mentioned, the motor was then switched on by Gotringer and one of the auxiliaries whose name I don't remember. Then the gassed Jews were taken out.





Testimony of Crematorium Engineers

by Daniel Keren for the Shamash archives.





Testimony of SS-Unterscharführer Herman Lambert about Sobibor.


As I mentioned at the beginning, I was in the extermination camp of the Jews for about two to three weeks. It was sometime in autumn 1942, but I don't remember exactly when. At that time I was assigned by Wirth to enlarge the gassing structure according to the model of Treblinka. I went to Sobibor together with Lorenz Hackenholt, who was at that time in Treblinka...


We reported to the camp commander, Reichsleitner. He gave us exact directive for the construction of the gassing installations. The camp was already in operation, and there was a gassing installation. Probably the old installation was not big enough, and reconstruction was necessary.





Kurt Prufer, senior engineer of Topf and Sohne, testifying in Erfurt, Germany, March 5, 1946.


Q. Who apart from you participated in the construction of the furnaces?


A. From 1941-2, I constructed the furnaces. The technical drawings were done by Mr. Keller. The ventilation systems of the "Kremas"  were constructed by senior engineer Karl Schultze.


Q. How often and with what aim did you visit Auschwitz?


A. Five times. The first time at the beginning of 1943, to receive orders of the SS Command where the Kremas were to be built. The second time in spring 1943 to inspect the building site. The third time was in autumn 1943 to inspect a fault in the construction of a Krema chimney. The forth time at the beginning of 1944, to inspect the repaired chimney. the fifth time in September-October 1944, when I visited Auschwitz with the intended relocation of the crematoriums, since the front was getting nearer. The crematoriums were not relocated, because there were not enough workers.


Q. Were you the sole Topf engineer in Auschwitz in spring 1943?


A. No,  Schultze was with me in Auschwitz at the time. I saw personally about 60 corpses of women and men of different ages, which were being prepared for incineration. That was at 10 in the morning. I witnessed the incineration of six corpses and came to the conclusion that the furnaces were working well.


Q. Did you see a gas chamber next to the crematoriums?


A. Yes, I did see one next to the crematorium. Between the gas chamber and the crematorium there was a connecting structure.


Q. Did you know that in the gas chamber and in the crematoriums there took place the liquidation of innocent human beings?


A. I have known since spring 1943 that innocent human beings were being liquidated in Auschwitz gas chambers and that their corpses were subsequently incinerated in the crematoriums.


Q. Who is the designer of the ventilation systems for the gas chambers?


A. Schultze was the designer of the ventilation systems in the gas chambers; and he installed them.


Q. Why was the brick lining of the muffles so quickly damaged?


A. The bricks were damaged after six months because the strain on the furnaces was colossal.






Engineer Fritz Sander testifying on March 7 1946.


I decided to design and build a crematorium with a higher capacity. I completed this project of a new crematorium in November 1942--a crematorium for mass incineration, and I submitted this project to a State Patent Commission in Berlin.


This "Krema" was to be built on the conveyor belt principle. That is to say, the corpses must be brought to the incineration furnaces without interruption. When the corpses are pushed into the furnaces, they fall onto a grate, and then slide into the furnace and are incinerated. The corpses serve at the same time as fuel for heating of the furnaces. This patent could not yet be approved by the Main Patent Office in Berlin, because of its classification (as a state secret).


Q. Although you knew about the mass liquidation of innocent human beings in crematoriums, you devoted yourself to designing and creating higher capacity incineration furnaces for crematoriums - and on your own initiative.


A. I was a German engineer and key member of the Topf works and I saw it as my duty to apply my specialist knowledge in this way to help Germany win the war, just as an aircraft construction engineer builds airplanes in wartime, which are also connected with the destruction of human beings.





Testimony of Engineer Karl Schultze.


Q. What was your personal part in these "Krema" building operation and what was Prufer's part?


A. Prufer was an expert. he designed and constructed these crematoriums and led the building operations in the concentration camps. I was responsible for the ventilation systems and for its air injection into the muffles. In specific instances, I led the installation operations personally. I personally led the installation work in Auschwitz crematoriums and gas chambers. For this purpose, I traveled to Auschwitz three times in 1943.


I did not know that in the crematoriums in Auschwitz-Birkenau innocent human beings were being liquidated. I thought criminals were being killed there who had partly been sentenced to death because of the crimes they had committed against the German army in Poland and other occupied territories. I am a German and supported and am supporting the Government in Germany and the laws of our Government. Whoever opposes our laws is an enemy of the State, because our laws establish him a such. I did not act on personal initiative but as directed by Ludwig Topf. I was afraid of losing my position and of possible arrest.


Q. Your views do not really differ from the views of a Nazi.


A. No, I was not a member of the NSDAP . I only respected and acted according to the laws of my country.



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