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"The Execution of Nazi War Criminals" by Kingsbury Smith

 


Defendant Julius Streicher, Editor-in-Chief of the venomous anti-Semitic Nazi paper, Der Stürmer, takes the stand during the Nuremberg Trials. Streicher was sentenced to death by hanging.

 


Three of the 19 camp guards tried and convicted by a general military court at Dachau (separate from the Nuremberg one) for atrocities committed at Mauthasen await execution by hanging at Landsberg prison.
Their names are Rudolf Mynzak, Wilhelm Mueller and Kurt Kleiwitz.

 

On 1 October 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts, after 216 court sessions. Of the original twenty-four defendants, twelve (including Martin Bormann, tried in absentia) were sentenced to death by hanging. The author of this account, Kingsbury Smith of the International News Service, was chosen by lot to represent the American press at the executions.

**********

      Hermann Wilhelm Goering cheated the gallows of Allied justice by committing suicide in his prison cell shortly before the ten other condemned Nazi leaders were hanged in Nuremberg gaol. He swallowed cyanide he had concealed in a copper cartridge shell, while lying on a cot in his cell.

      The one-time Number Two man in the Nazi hierarchy was dead two hours before he was scheduled to have been dropped through the trap door of a gallows erected in a small, brightly lighted gymnasium in the gaol yard, 35 yards from the cell block where he spent his last days of ignominy.

      Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister in the ill-starred regime of Adolf Hitler, took Goering's place as first to the scaffold.

      Last to depart this life in a total span of just about two hours was Arthur Seyss-Inquart, former Gauleiter of Holland and Austria.

      In between these two once-powerful leaders, the gallows claimed, in the order named,

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel; 

 

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, once head of the Nazis' security police; 

Alfred Rosenberg, arch-priest of Nazi culture in foreign lands; 

Hans Frank;Gauleiter of Poland;

 

Wilhem Frankterior;

Fritz Sauckel, boss of slave labor; 

Colonel General Alfred Jodl;

and Julius Streicher, who bossed the anti-Semitism drive of the Hitler Reich.

      As they went to the gallows, most of the ten endeavored to show bravery. Some were defiant and some were resigned and some begged the Almighty for mercy.

      All except for Rosenberg made brief, last-minute statements on the scaffold. But the only one to make any reference to Hitler or the Nazi ideology in his final moments was Julius Streicher.

      Three black-painted wooden scaffolds stood inside the gymnasium, a room approximately 33 feet wide by 80 feet long with plaster walls in which cracks showed. The gymnasium had been used only three days before by the American security guards for a basketball game. Two gallows were used alternately. The third was a spare for use if needed. The men were hanged one at a time, but to get the executions over with quickly, the military police would bring in the man while the prisoner who proceeded him still was dangling at the end of the rope.

      The ten once great men in Hitler's Reich that was to have lasted for a thousand years walked up thirteen wooden steps to a platform eight feet high which also was eight square feet.

      Ropes were suspended from a crossbeam supported on two posts. A new one was used for each man.

      When the trap was sprung, the victim dropped from sight in the interior of the scaffolding. The bottom of it was boarded up with wood on three sides and shielded by a dark canvas curtain on the fourth, so that no one saw the death struggles of the men dangling with broken necks.

      Von Ribbentrop entered the execution chamber at 1.11 a.m. Nuremberg time.

      He was stopped immediately inside the door by two Army sergeants who closed in on each side of him and held his arms, while another sergeant who had followed him in removed manacles from his hands and replaced them with a leather strap.

      It was planned originally to permit the condemned men to walk from their cells to the execution chamber with their hands free, but all were manacled following Goering's suicide.

      Von Ribbentrop was able to maintain his apparent stoicism to the last. He walked steadily toward the scaffold between his two guards, but he did not answer at first when an officer standing at the foot of the gallows went through the formality of asking his name. When the query was repeated he almost shouted, 'Joachim von Ribbentrop!' and then mounted the steps without any sign of hesitation.

      When he was turned around on the platform to face the witnesses, he seemed to clench his teeth and raise his head with the old arrogance. When asked whether he had any final message he said, 'God protect Germany,' in German, and then added, 'May I say something else?'

      The interpreter nodded and the former diplomatic wizard of Nazidom spoke his last words in loud, firm tones: 'My last wish is that Germany realize its entity and that an understanding be reached between the East and the West. I wish peace to the world.'

      As the black hod was placed in position on his head, Von Ribbentrop looked straight ahead. Then the hangman adjusted the rope, pulled the lever, and Von Ribbentrop slipped away to his fate.

      Field Marshall Keitel, who was immediately behind Von Ribbentrop in the order of executions, was the first military leader to be executed under the new concept of international law - the principle that professional soldiers cannot escape punishment for waging aggressive wars and permitting crimes against humanity with the claim they were dutifully carrying out orders of superiors.

      Keitel entered the chamber two minutes after the trap had dropped beneath Von Ribbentrop, while the latter still was at the end of his rope. But Von Ribbentrop's body was concealed inside the first scaffold; all that could be seen was the taut rope.

      Keitel did not appear as tense as Von Ribbentrop. He held his head high while his hands were being tied and walked erect towards the gallows with a military bearing. When asked his name he responded loudly and mounted the gallows as he might have mounted a reviewing stand to take a salute from German armies.

      He certainly did not appear to need the help of guards who walked alongside, holding his arms. When he turned around atop the platform he looked over the crowd with the iron-jawed haughtiness of a proud Prussian officer. His last words, uttered in a full, clear voice, were translated as 'I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than 2 million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I follow now my sons - all for Germany.'

      After his blackbooted, uniformed body plunged through the trap, witnesses agreed Keitel had shown more courage on the scaffold than in the courtroom, where he had tried to shift his guilt upon the ghost of Hitler, claiming that all was the Führer's fault and that he merely carried out orders and had no responsibility.

      With both von Ribbentrop and Keitel hanging at the end of their rope there was a pause in the proceedings. The American colonel directing the executions asked the American general representing the United States on the Allied Control Commission if those present could smoke. An affirmative answer brought cigarettes into the hands of almost every one of the thirty-odd persons present. Officers and GIs walked around nervously or spoke a few words to one another in hushed voices while Allied correspondents scribbled furiously their notes on this historic though ghastly event.

      In a few minutes an American army doctor accompanied by a Russian army doctor and both carrying stethoscopes walked to the first scaffold, lifted the curtain and disappeared within.

      They emerged at 1.30 a.m. and spoke to an American colonel. The colonel swung around and facing official witnesses snapped to attention to say, 'The man is dead.'

      Two GIs quickly appeared with a stretcher which was carried up and lifted into the interior of the scaffold. The hangman mounted the gallows steps, took a large commando-type knife out of a sheath strapped to his side and cut the rope.

      Von Ribbentrop's limp body with the black hood still over his head was removed to the far end of the room and placed behind a black canvas curtain. This had all taken less than ten minutes.

      The directing colonel turned to the witnesses and said, 'Cigarettes out, please, gentlemen.' Another colonel went out the door and over to the condemned block to fetch the next man. this was Ernst Kaltenbrunner. He entered the execution chamber at 1.36 a.m., wearing a sweater beneath his blue double-breasted coat. With his lean haggard face furrowed by old dueling scars, this terrible successor to Reinhard Heydrick had a frightening look as he glanced around the room.

      He wet his lips apparently in nervousness as he turned to mount the gallows, but he walked steadily. He answered his name in a calm, low voice. When he turned around on the gallows platform he first faced a United States Army Roman Catholic chaplain wearing a Franciscan habit. When Kaltenbrunner was invited to make a last statement, he said, 'I have loved my German people and my fatherland with a warm heart. I have done my duty by the laws of my people and I am sorry my people were led this time by men who were not soldiers and that crimes were committed of which I had no knowledge.'

      This was the man, one of whose agents - a man named Rudolf Hoess - confessed at a trial that under Kaltenbrunner's orders he gassed 3 million human beings at the Auschwitz concentration camp!

 


"...gassed 3 million human beings at the Auschwitz concentration camp!"

      As the black hood was raised over his head Kaltenbrunner, still speaking in a low voice, used a German phrase which translated means, 'Germany, good luck.'

      His trap was sprung at 1.39 a.m.

      Field Marshal Keitel was pronounced dead at 1.44 a.m. and three minutes later guards had removed his body. The scaffold was made ready for Alfred Rosenberg.

      Rosenberg was dull and sunken-cheeked as he looked around the court. His complexion was pasty-brown, but he did not appear nervous and walked with a steady step to and up the gallows.

      Apart from giving his name and replying 'no' to a question as to whether he had anything to say, he did not utter a word. Despite his avowed atheism he was accompanied by a Protestant chaplain who followed him to the gallows and stood beside him praying.

      Rosenberg looked at the chaplain once, expressionless. Ninety seconds after he was swinging from the end of a hangman's rope. His was the swiftest execution of the ten.

      There was a brief lull in the proceedings until Kaltenbrunner was pronounced dead at 1.52 a.m.

      Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance.

      Although nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds.

      He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a low voice that was almost a whisper, 'I am thankful for the kind of treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.'

      Frank closed his eyes and swallowed as the black hood went over his head.

      The sixth man to leave his prison cell and walk with handcuffed wrists to the death house was 69-year-old Wilhelm Frick. He entered the execution chamber at 2.05 a.m., six minutes after Rosenberg had been pronounced dead. He seemed the least steady of any so far and stumbled on the thirteenth step of the gallows. His only words were, 'Long live eternal Germany,' before he was hooded and dropped through the trap.

      Julius Streicher made his melodramatic appearance at 2.12 a.m.

      While his manacles were being removed and his bare hands bound, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a well-worn bluish shirt buttoned to the neck but without a tie (he was notorious during his days of power for his flashy dress), glanced at the three wooden scaffolds rising menacingly in front of him. Then he glanced around the room, his eyes resting momentarily upon the small group of witnesses. By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked steadily the six feet to the first wooden step but his face was twitching.

      As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: 'Heil Hitler!'

      The shriek sent a shiver down my back.

      As its echo died away an American colonel standing by the steps said sharply, 'Ask the man his name.' In response to the interpreter's query Streicher shouted, 'You know my name well.'

      The interpreter repeated his request and the condemned man yelled, 'Julius Streicher.'

      As he reached the platform, Streicher cried out, 'Now it goes to God.' He was pushed the last two steps to the mortal spot beneath the hangman's rope. The rope was being held back against a wooden rail by the hangman.

      Streicher was swung suddenly to face the witnesses and glared at them. Suddenly he screamed, 'Purim Fest 1946.' [Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring, commemorating the execution of Haman, ancient persecutor of the Jews described in the Old Testament.]

      The American officer standing at the scaffold said, 'Ask the man if he has any last words.'

      When the interpreter had translated, Streicher shouted, 'The Bolsheviks will hang you one day.'

      When the black hood was raised over his head, Streicher's muffled voice could be heard to say, 'Adele, my dear wife.'

      At that instant the trap opened with a loud bang. He went down kicking. When the rope snapped taut with the body swinging wildly, groans could be heard from within the concealed interior of the scaffold. Finally, the hangman, who had descended from the gallows platform, lifted the black canvas curtain and went inside. Something happened that put a stop to the groans and brought the rope to a standstill. After it was over I was not in the mood to ask what he did, but I assume that he grabbed the swinging body of and pulled down on it. We were all of the opinion that Streicher had strangled. 

      Then, following the removal of the corpse of Frick, who had been pronounced dead at 2.20 a.m., Fritz Sauckel was brought face to face with his doom.

      Wearing a sweater with no coat and looking wild-eyed, Sauckel proved to be the most defiant of any except Streicher.

      Here was the man who put millions into bondage on a scale unknown since the pre-Christian era. Gazing around the room from the gallows platform he suddenly screamed, 'I am dying innocent. The sentence is wrong. God protect Germany and make Germany great again. Long live Germany! God protect my family.'

      The trap was sprung at 2.26 a.m. and, as in the case of Streicher, there was a loud groan under the gallows pit as the noose snapped tightly under the weight of the body.

      Ninth in the procession of death was Alfred Jodl. With the black coat-collar of his Wehrmacht uniform half turned up at the back as though hurriedly put on, Jodl entered the dismal death house with obvious signs of nervousness. He wet his lips constantly and his features were drawn and haggard as he walked, not nearly so steady as Keitel, up the gallows steps. Yet his voice was calm when he uttered his last six words on earth: 'My greetings to you, my Germany.'

      At 2.34 a.m. Jodl plunged into the black hole on the scaffold. He and Sauckel hung together until the latter was pronounced dead six minutes later and removed.

      The Czechoslovak-born Seyss-Inquart, whom Hitler had made ruler of Holland and Austria, was the last actor to make his appearance in this unparalleled scene. He entered the chamber at 2.38 1/2 a.m., wearing glasses which made his face an easily remembered caricature.

      He looked around with noticeable signs of unsteadiness as he limped on his left foot clubfoot to the gallows. He mounted the steps slowly, with guards helping him.

      When he spoke his last words his voice was low but intense. He said, 'I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany.'

      He dropped to his death at 2:45 a.m.

      With the bodies of Jodl and Seyss-Inquart still hanging, awaiting formal pronouncement of death, the gymnasium doors opened again and guards entered carrying Goering's body on a stretcher.

      He had succeeded in wrecking plans of the Allied Control Council to have him lead the parade of condemned Nazi chieftains to their death. But the council's representatives were determined that Goering at least would take his place as a dead man beneath the shadow of the scaffold.

      The guards carrying the stretcher set it down between the first and second gallows. Goering's big bare feet stuck out from under the bottom end of a khaki-coloured United States Army blanket. One blue-silk-clad arm was hanging over the side.

      The colonel in charge of the proceedings ordered the blanket removed so that witnesses and Allied correspondents could see for themselves that Goering was definitely dead. The Army did not want any legend to develop that Goering had managed to escape.

      As the blanket came off it revealed Goering clad in black silk pyjamas with a blue jacket shirt over them, and this was soaking wet, apparently the results of efforts by prison doctors to revive him.

      The face of this twentieth-century freebooting political racketeer was still contorted with the pain of his last agonizing moments and his final gesture of defiance.

      They covered him up quickly and this Nazi warlord, who like a character out of the days of the Borgias, had wallowed in blood and beauty, passed behind a canvas curtain into the black pages of history.

 

 

THE FORMER LEADERS OF HITLER'S THIRD REICH ON TRIAL IN NUREMBERG, GERMANY.


The defendants at Nuremberg. Front row, from left to right: Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Walther Funk, Hjalmar Schacht. Back row from left to right: Karl Dönitz, Erich Raeder, Baldur von Schirach, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Franz von Papen, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Albert Speer, Konstantin van Neurath, Hans Fritzsche.

 

Added by bgill

The Sentencing and Execution of Nazi War Criminals, 1946

 

In November 1945, twenty-one men sat in the dock of a Nuremberg courtroom on trial for their lives. The group represented the "cream of the crop" of the Nazi leadership including Herman Goering, Hitler's heir apparent until falling out of favor in the closing days of the war, and Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy who had been in custody since parachuting  The Defendants into England in 1941. (A 22nd defendant - Martin Bormann - had escaped capture and was tried in absentia).

Each defendant was accused of one or more of four charges: conspiracy to commit crimes alleged in other counts; crimes against peace; war crimes; or crimes against humanity. Specific charges included the murder of over 6 million Jews, pursuing an aggressive war, the brutality of the concentration camps and the use of slave labor. The judges represented the major victors in the war in Europe - Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States. The defendants all proclaimed their innocence, many declaring that they were just following orders or questioning the authority of the court to pass judgment.

The verdicts were announced on October 1, 1946. Eighteen of the defendants were found guilty while three were acquitted. Eleven of the guilty were sentenced to death by hanging, the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.

The Defendants React to their Sentences

Dr. G. M. Gilbert was a prison psychologist assigned the responsibility of monitoring the behavior of the defendants while they stood trial. He became intimately familiar with all the defendants and was present when each was escorted from the courtroom to their prison cell after hearing their verdict. His description of each individual reaction provides insight into the mindset of the Nazi hierarchy. Here are a few of his observations: (Click the name of each defendant for more information.)

Goering came down first and strode into his cell, his face pale and frozen, his eyes popping. 'Death!' he said as he dropped on the cot and reached for a book. His hands were trembling in spite of his attempt to be nonchalant. His eyes were moist and he was panting, fighting back an emotional breakdown. He asked me in an unsteady voice to leave him alone for a while.

When Goering collected himself enough to talk, he said that he had naturally expected the death penalty, and was glad that he had not gotten a life sentence, because those who are sentenced to life imprisonment never become martyrs. But there wasn't any of the old confident bravado in his voice. Goering seems to realize, at last, that there is nothing funny about death, when you're the one who is going to die.

Rudolph Hess Hess strutted in, laughing nervously, and said that he had not even been listening, so he did not know what the sentence was and what was more, he didn't care. As the guard unlocked his handcuffs, he asked why he had been handcuffed and Goering had not. I said it was probably an oversight with the first prisoner.

Hess laughed again and said mysteriously that he knew why. (A guard told me that Hess had been given a life sentence.)

Ribbentrop wandered in, aghast, and started to walk around the cell in a daze, whispering, 'Death!-Death! Now I won't be able to write my beautiful memoirs. Tsk! Tsk! So much hatred! Tsk! tsk!' Then he sat down, a completely broken man, and stared into space. . .

Keitel was already in his cell, his back to the door, when I entered. He wheeled around and snapped to attention at the far end of the cell, his fists clenched and arms rigid, horror in his eyes. 'Death-by hanging!' he announced his voice hoarse with intense shame. 'That, at least, I thought I would be spared. I don't blame you for standing at a distance from a man sentenced to death by hanging. I understand that perfectly. But I am still the same as before. - If you will please only - visit me sometimes in these last days.' I said I would.

Frank smiled politely, but could not look at me. 'Death by hanging,' he said softly, nodding his head in acquiescence. 'I deserved it and I expected it, as I've always told you. I am glad that I have had the chance to defend myself and to think things over in the last few months.'

Doenitz didn't know quite how to take it. 'Ten years! - Well - anyway, I cleared U-boat warfare. - Your own Admiral Nimitz said - you heard it.' He' said he was sure his colleague Admiral Nimitz understood him perfectly

Jodl marched to his cell, rigid and upright, avoiding my glance. After he had been unhandcuffed and faced me in his cell, he hesitated a few seconds, as if he could not get the words out. His face was spotted red with vascular tension. 'Death - by hanging! - that, at least, I did not deserve. The death part - all right, somebody has to stand for the responsibility. But that -' His mouth quivered and his voice choked for the first time. 'That I did not deserve.'

Albert Speer Speer laughed nervously. 'Twenty years. Well; that's fair enough. They couldn't have given me a lighter sentence, considering the facts, and I can't complain. I said the sentences must be severe, and I admitted my share of the guilt, so it would be ridiculous if I complained about the punishment.' "

The Executions

The hangings were carried out during the early morning hours of October 16, 1946 in a small gymnasium erected in the prison's courtyard. Three gallows filled the room - two to be used alternatively as each condemned man was dispatched and the third to act as a spare. The executions were briskly conducted - the entire procedure lasted just over 3 1/2 hours.

Herman Goering cheated the hangman by swallowing a cyanide capsule and dying in his cell shortly before his scheduled hanging.

Kingsbury Smith was a reporter for the International News Service and was selected as the sole representative of the American press at the executions. Here are some of his observations:

Ribbentrop "Von Ribbentrop entered the execution chamber at 1:11 a.m. Nuremberg time. He was stopped immediately inside the door by two Army sergeants who closed in on each side of him and held his arms, while another sergeant who had followed him in removed manacles from his hands and replaced them with a leather strap. It was planned originally to permit the condemned men to walk from their cells to the execution chamber with their hands free, but all were manacled immediately following Goering's suicide. Von Ribbentrop was able to maintain his apparent stoicism to the last. He walked steadily toward the scaffold between his two guards, but he did not answer at first when an officer standing at the foot of the gallows went through the formality of asking his name. When the query was repeated he almost shouted, 'Joachim von Ribbentrop!' and then mounted the steps without any sign of hesitation.  When he was turned around on the platform to face the witnesses, he seemed to clench his teeth and raise his head with the old arrogance. When asked whether he had any final message he said, 'God protect Germany,' in German, and then added, 'May I say something else?'

The interpreter nodded and the former diplomatic wizard of Nazidom spoke his last words in loud, firm tones: 'My last wish is that Germany realize its entity and that an understanding be reached between the East and the West. I wish peace to the world.'

As the black hood was placed in position on his head, Von Ribbentrop looked straight ahead.

Then the hangman adjusted the rope, pulled the lever, and Von Ribbentrop slipped away to his fate.

Keitel entered the chamber two minutes after the trap had dropped beneath Von Ribbentrop, while the latter still was at the end of his rope. But Von Ribbentrop's body was concealed inside the first scaffold; all that could be seen was the taut rope.

Keitel Keitel did not appear as tense as Von Ribbentrop. He held his head high while his hands were being tied and walked erect toward the gallows with a military bearing. When asked his name he responded loudly and mounted the gallows as he might have mounted a reviewing stand to take a salute from German armies.

He certainly did not appear to need the help of guards who walked alongside, holding his arms. When he turned around atop the platform he looked over the crowd with the iron-jawed haughtiness of a proud Prussian officer. His last words, uttered in a full, clear voice, were translated as 'I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than 2 million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I follow now my sons - all for Germany.'

Hans Frank Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance.

Although nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds.

He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a low voice that was almost a whisper, 'I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.'

Jodl Ninth in the procession of death was Alfred Jodl. With the black coat-collar of his Wehrmacht uniform half turned up at the back as though hurriedly put on, JodI entered the dismal death house with obvious signs of nervousness. He wet his lips constantly and his features were drawn and haggard as he walked, not nearly so steady as Keitel, up the gallows steps. Yet his voice was calm when he uttered his last six words on earth: 'My greetings to you, my Germany.'

At 2:34 a.m. Jodl plunged into the black hole of the scaffold.

The last of the condemned men was executed at 2:38 AM. Although Herman Goering had escaped the hangman's noose, his death had to be officially recognized:

...the gymnasium doors opened again and guards entered carrying Goering's body on a stretcher.

He had succeeded in wrecking plans of the Allied Control Council to have him lead the parade of condemned Nazi chieftains to their death. But the council's representatives were determined that Goering at least would take his place as a dead man beneath the shadow of the scaffold.

The guards carrying the stretcher set it down between the first and second gallows. Goering's big bare feet stuck out from under the bottom end of a khaki-colored United States Army blanket. One blue-silk-clad arm was hanging over the side.

Herman Goering The colonel in charge of the proceedings ordered the blanket removed so that witnesses and Allied correspondents could see for themselves that Goering was definitely dead. The Army did not want any legend to develop that Goering had managed to escape.

As the blanket came off it revealed Goering clad in black silk pajamas with a blue jacket shirt over them, and this was soaking wet, apparently the result of efforts by prison doctors to revive him.

The face of this twentieth-century freebooting political racketeer was still contorted with the pain of his last agonizing moments and his final gesture of defiance.

They covered him up quickly and this Nazi warlord, who like a character out of the days of the Borgias, had wallowed in blood and beauty, passed behind a canvas curtain into the black pages of history."

Added by bgill

Military Tribunal at Nuremberg

On 1 October 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts, after 216 court sessions. Of the original twenty-four defendants, twelve (including Martin Bormann, tried in absentia) were sentenced to death by hanging. The author of this account, Kingsbury Smith of the International News Service, was chosen by lot to represent the American press at the executions.

    During 3rd Reich After 3rd Reich Joachim von Ribbentrop

Wilhelm Keitel

Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Alfred Rosenberg

Hans Frank

Wilhem Frick

Fritz Sauckel

Alfred Jodl

Julius Streicher

Arthur Seyss-Inquart

   

Hermann Wilhelm Goering cheated the gallows of Allied justice by committing suicide in his prison cell shortly before the ten other condemned Nazi leaders were hanged in Nuremberg gaol. He swallowed cyanide he had concealed in a copper cartridge shell, while lying on a cot in his cell.

The one-time Number Two man in the Nazi hierarchy was dead two hours before he was scheduled to have been dropped through the trap door of a gallows erected in a small, brightly lighted gymnasium in the gaol yard, 35 yards from the cell block where he spent his last days of ignominy.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister in the ill-starred regime of Adolf Hitler, took Goering's place as first to the scaffold.

Last to depart this life in a total span of just about two hours wasArthur Seyss-Inquart, former Gauleiter of Holland and Austria.

In between these two once-powerful leaders, the gallows claimed, in the order named, Field MarshallWilhelm Keitel;Ernst Kaltenbrunner, once head of the Nazis' security police;Alfred Rosenberg, arch-priest of Nazi culture in foreign lands;Hans Frank; Gauleiter of Poland; Wilhem Frank, Nazi minister of the interior; Fritz Sauckel, boss of slave labor; Colonel GeneralAlfred Jodl; and Julius Streicher, who bossed the anti-Semitism drive of the Hitler Reich.

As they went to the gallows, most of the ten endeavored to show bravery. Some were defiant and some were resigned and some begged the Almighty for mercy.

All except for Rosenberg made brief, last-minute statements on the scaffold. But the only one to make any reference to Hitler or the Nazi ideology in his final moments was Julius Streicher.

Three black-painted wooden scaffolds stood inside the gymnasium, a room approximately 33 feet wide by 80 feet long with plaster walls in which cracks showed. The gymnasium had been used only three days before by the American security guards for a basketball game. Two gallows were used alternately. The third was a spare for use if needed. The men were hanged one at a time, but to get the executions over with quickly, the military police would bring in the man while the prisoner who proceeded him still was dangling at the end of the rope.

The ten once great men in Hitler's Reich that was to have lasted for a thousand years walked up thirteen wooden steps to a platform eight feet high which also was eight square feet.

Ropes were suspended from a crossbeam supported on two posts. A new one was used for each man.

When the trap was sprung, the victim dropped from sight in the interior of the scaffolding. The bottom of it was boarded up with wood on three sides and shielded by a dark canvas curtain on the fourth, so that no one saw the death struggles of the men dangling with broken necks.

Von Ribbentrop entered the execution chamber at 1:11 a.m. Nuremberg time.

He was stopped immediately inside the door by two Army sergeants who closed in on each side of him and held his arms, while another sergeant who had followed him in removed manacles from his hands and replaced them with a leather strap.

It was planned originally to permit the condemned men to walk from their cells to the execution chamber with their hands free, but all were manacled following Goering's suicide.

Von Ribbentrop was able to maintain his apparent stoicism to the last. He walked steadily toward the scaffold between his two guards, but he did not answer at first when an officer standing at the foot of the gallows went through the formality of asking his name. When the query was repeated he almost shouted, 'Joachim von Ribbentrop!' and then mounted the steps without any sign of hesitation.

When he was turned around on the platform to face the witnesses, he seemed to clench his teeth and raise his head with the old arrogance. When asked whether he had any final message he said, 'God protect Germany,' in German, and then added, 'May I say something else?'

The interpreter nodded and the former diplomatic wizard of Nazidom spoke his last words in loud, firm tones: 'My last wish is that Germany realize its entity and that an understanding be reached between the East and the West. I wish peace to the world.'

As the black hood was placed in position on his head, Von Ribbentrop looked straight ahead.

Then the hangman adjusted the rope, pulled the lever, and Von Ribbentrop slipped away to his fate.

Field Marshall Keitel, who was immediately behind Von Ribbentrop in the order of executions, was the first military leader to be executed under the new concept of international law - the principle that professional soldiers cannot escape punishment for waging aggressive wars and permitting crimes against humanity with the claim they were dutifully carrying out orders of superiors.

Keitel entered the chamber two minutes after the trap had dropped beneath Von Ribbentrop, while the latter still was at the end of his rope. But Von Ribbentrop's body was concealed inside the first scaffold; all that could be seen was the taut rope.

Keitel did not appear as tense as Von Ribbentrop. He held his head high while his hands were being tied and walked erect towards the gallows with a military bearing. When asked his name he responded loudly and mounted the gallows as he might have mounted a reviewing stand to take a salute from German armies.

He certainly did not appear to need the help of guards who walked alongside, holding his arms. When he turned around atop the platform he looked over the crowd with the iron-jawed haughtiness of a proud Prussian officer. His last words, uttered in a full, clear voice, were translated as 'I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than 2 million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I follow now my sons - all for Germany.'

After his blackbooted, uniformed body plunged through the trap, witnesses agreed Keitel had shown more courage on the scaffold than in the courtroom, where he had tried to shift his guilt upon the ghost of Hitler, claiming that all was the Führer's fault and that he merely carried out orders and had no responsibility.

With both von Ribbentrop and Keitel hanging at the end of their rope there was a pause in the proceedings. The American colonel directing the executions asked the American general representing the United States on the Allied Control Commission if those present could smoke. An affirmative answer brought cigarettes into the hands of almost every one of the thirty-odd persons present. Officers and GIs walked around nervously or spoke a few words to one another in hushed voices while Allied correspondents scribbled furiously their notes on this historic though ghastly event.

In a few minutes an American army doctor accompanied by a Russian army doctor and both carrying stethoscopes walked to the first scaffold, lifted the curtain and disappeared within.

They emerged at 1:30 a.m. and spoke to an American colonel. The colonel swung around and facing official witnesses snapped to attention to say, 'The man is dead.'

Two GIs quickly appeared with a stretcher which was carried up and lifted into the interior of the scaffold. The hangman mounted the gallows steps, took a large commando-type knife out of a sheath strapped to his side and cut the rope.

Von Ribbentrop's limp body with the black hood still over his head was removed to the far end of the room and placed behind a black canvas curtain. This had all taken less than ten minutes.

The directing colonel turned to the witnesses and said, 'Cigarettes out, please, gentlemen.' Another colonel went out the door and over to the condemned block to fetch the next man. This was Ernst Kaltenbrunner. He entered the execution chamber at 1:36 a.m., wearing a sweater beneath his blue double-breasted coat. With his lean haggard face furrowed by old dueling scars, this terrible successor to Reinhard Heydrick had a frightening look as he glanced around the room.

He wet his lips apparently in nervousness as he turned to mount the gallows, but he walked steadily. He answered his name in a calm, low voice. When he turned around on the gallows platform he first faced a United States Army Roman Catholic chaplain wearing a Franciscan habit. When Kaltenbrunner was invited to make a last statement, he said, 'I have loved my German people and my fatherland with a warm heart. I have done my duty by the laws of my people and I am sorry my people were led this time by men who were not soldiers and that crimes were committed of which I had no knowledge.'

This was the man, one of whose agents - a man named Rudolf Hoess - confessed at a trial that under Kaltenbrunner's orders he gassed 3 million human beings at the Auschwitz concentration camp!

As the black hood was raised over his head Kaltenbrunner, still speaking in a low voice, used a German phrase which translated means, 'Germany, good luck.'

His trap was sprung at 1:39 a.m.

Field Marshal Keitel was pronounced dead at 1:44 a.m. and three minutes later guards had removed his body. The scaffold was made ready for Alfred Rosenberg.

Rosenberg was dull and sunken-cheeked as he looked around the court. His complexion was pasty-brown, but he did not appear nervous and walked with a steady step to and up the gallows.

Apart from giving his name and replying 'no' to a question as to whether he had anything to say, he did not utter a word. Despite his avowed atheism he was accompanied by a Protestant chaplain who followed him to the gallows and stood beside him praying.

Rosenberg looked at the chaplain once, expressionless. Ninety seconds after he was swinging from the end of a hangman's rope. His was the swiftest execution of the ten.

There was a brief lull in the proceedings until Kaltenbrunner was pronounced dead at 1:52 a.m.

Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance.

Although nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds.

He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a low voice that was almost a whisper, 'I am thankful for the kind of treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.'

Frank closed his eyes and swallowed as the black hood went over his head.

The sixth man to leave his prison cell and walk with handcuffed wrists to the death house was 69-year-old Wilhelm Frick. He entered the execution chamber at 2:05 a.m., six minutes after Rosenberg had been pronounced dead. He seemed the least steady of any so far and stumbled on the thirteenth step of the gallows. His only words were, 'Long live eternal Germany,' before he was hooded and dropped through the trap.

Julius Streicher made his melodramatic appearance at 2:12 a.m.

While his manacles were being removed and his bare hands bound, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a well-worn bluish shirt buttoned to the neck but without a tie (he was notorious during his days of power for his flashy dress), glanced at the three wooden scaffolds rising menacingly in front of him. Then he glanced around the room, his eyes resting momentarily upon the small group of witnesses. By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked steadily the six feet to the first wooden step but his face was twitching.

As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: 'Heil Hitler!'

The shriek sent a shiver down my back.

As its echo died away an American colonel standing by the steps said sharply, 'Ask the man his name.' In response to the interpreter's query Streicher shouted, 'You know my name well.'

The interpreter repeated his request and the condemned man yelled, 'Julius Streicher.'

As he reached the platform, Streicher cried out, 'Now it goes to God.' He was pushed the last two steps to the mortal spot beneath the hangman's rope. The rope was being held back against a wooden rail by the hangman.

Streicher was swung suddenly to face the witnesses and glared at them. Suddenly he screamed, 'Purim Fest 1946.' [Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring, commemorating the execution of Haman, ancient persecutor of the Jews described in the Old Testament.]

The American officer standing at the scaffold said, 'Ask the man if he has any last words.'

When the interpreter had translated, Streicher shouted, 'The Bolsheviks will hang you one day.'

When the black hood was raised over his head, Streicher's muffled voice could be heard to say, 'Adele, my dear wife.'

At that instant the trap opened with a loud bang. He went down kicking. When the rope snapped taut with the body swinging wildly, groans could be heard from within the concealed interior of the scaffold. Finally, the hangman, who had descended from the gallows platform, lifted the black canvas curtain and went inside. Something happened that put a stop to the groans and brought the rope to a standstill. After it was over I was not in the mood to ask what he did, but I assume that he grabbed the swinging body of and pulled down on it. We were all of the opinion that Streicher had strangled.

Then, following the removal of the corpse of Frick, who had been pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m., Fritz Sauckel was brought face to face with his doom.

Wearing a sweater with no coat and looking wild-eyed, Sauckel proved to be the most defiant of any except Streicher.

Here was the man who put millions into bondage on a scale unknown since the pre-Christian era. Gazing around the room from the gallows platform he suddenly screamed, 'I am dying innocent. The sentence is wrong. God protect Germany and make Germany great again. Long live Germany! God protect my family.'

The trap was sprung at 2:26 a.m. and, as in the case of Streicher, there was a loud groan under the gallows pit as the noose snapped tightly under the weight of the body.

Ninth in the procession of death was Alfred Jodl. With the black coat-collar of his Wehrmacht uniform half turned up at the back as though hurriedly put on, Jodl entered the dismal death house with obvious signs of nervousness. He wet his lips constantly and his features were drawn and haggard as he walked, not nearly so steady as Keitel, up the gallows steps. Yet his voice was calm when he uttered his last six words on earth: 'My greetings to you, my Germany.'

At 2:34 a.m. Jodl plunged into the black hole on the scaffold. He and Sauckel hung together until the latter was pronounced dead six minutes later and removed.

The Czechoslovak-born Seyss-Inquart, whom Hitler had made ruler of Holland and Austria, was the last actor to make his appearance in this unparalleled scene. He entered the chamber at 2:38 1/2 a.m., wearing glasses which made his face an easily remembered caricature.

He looked around with noticeable signs of unsteadiness as he limped on his left foot clubfoot to the gallows. He mounted the steps slowly, with guards helping him.

When he spoke his last words his voice was low but intense. He said, 'I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany.'

He dropped to his death at 2:45 a.m.

With the bodies of Jodl and Seyss-Inquart still hanging, awaiting formal pronouncement of death, the gymnasium doors opened again and guards entered carrying Goering's body on a stretcher.

He had succeeded in wrecking plans of the Allied Control Council to have him lead the parade of condemned Nazi chieftains to their death. But the council's representatives were determined that Goering at least would take his place as a dead man beneath the shadow of the scaffold.

The guards carrying the stretcher set it down between the first and second gallows. Goering's big bare feet stuck out from under the bottom end of a khaki-coloured United States Army blanket. One blue-silk-clad arm was hanging over the side.

The colonel in charge of the proceedings ordered the blanket removed so that witnesses and Allied correspondents could see for themselves that Goering was definitely dead. The Army did not want any legend to develop that Goering had managed to escape.

As the blanket came off it revealed Goering clad in black silk pyjamas with a blue jacket shirt over them, and this was soaking wet, apparently the results of efforts by prison doctors to revive him.

The face of this twentieth-century freebooting political racketeer was still contorted with the pain of his last agonizing moments and his final gesture of defiance.

They covered him up quickly and this Nazi warlord, who like a character out of the days of the Borgias, had wallowed in blood and beauty, passed behind a canvas curtain into the black pages of history.

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More Executions

Many of the staff from the Nazi concentration camps were arrested and tried for murder and acts of brutality against their prisoners after World War II.  Some 3,600 women worked in the concentration camps and around 60 stood trial for before War Crimes Tribunals between 1945 and 1949. Of these 21 were executed and their cases are detailed below. (In total, 5,025 men and women were convicted of war crimes in the American, British and French zones and over 500 of these were sentenced to death, with the majority executed.)

It was decided that those sentenced to die should suffer death by hanging for both sexes, although no standard execution protocol was agreed. Each country carried out executions in accordance with its normal procedure. This led to the use of British style measured drop hanging in private, for those executed in the British sector, short drop hanging in public or private for those in the Polish and Russian sectors and standard drop hanging in semi-private for those executed by the Americans at Nuremberg, Dachau and Landsberg. Some of the American hangings were televised and shown on the news. No women were executed in the US Sector.

Executions under British jurisdiction.
A total of 190 men and 10 women were hanged at Hameln Prison (near Hanover) in Germany under British jurisdiction. The executions were carried out by Albert Pierrepoint who was flown in specially on each occasion. Generally he was assisted by Regimental Sergeant Major O'Neil who was a member of the Control Commission there. The hangings took place in a purpose built execution room at the end of one of the prison's wings. The gallows having been specially constructed by the Royal Engineers to allow the execution of prisoners in pairs.

Belsen Concentration Camp staff.
Bergen-Belsen was started as late as April 1943 in Lower Saxony near the city of Celle as a transit centre. It was turned into a concentration camp by its second commandant, SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Kramer, and was used to house those prisoners who had become too weak to work as forced labour in German factories. It was liberated by the British army on April 15th, 1945. The British soldiers found 10,000 unburied corpses and 40,000 sick and dying prisoners of whom a staggering 28,000 subsequently died after liberation. 
As a result of these atrocities, 45 former members of staff from Bergen-Belsen, including some inmates who had taken part in acts of brutality against other prisoners, were charged with either being responsible for the murder of Allied nationals or the suffering of those in Bergen-Belsen in Germany (first count) or Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, (see below for details of this camp) (second count). Some defendants were charged with both counts. 
The accused comprised of 16 men and 16 women, including Josef Kramer, Belsen's commandant, plus 12 former prisoners (seven men and five women). 
The Belsen Trial as it was known was conducted by the British Military Tribunal at No. 30 Lindentrasse, Lüneburg, in Germany from September 17th to November 17th, 1945 under court President Major-General H.M.P. Berney-Ficklin, sitting with five other officers. The prosecution was in the hands of a team of 4 military lawyers and each prisoner was represented by counsel. All the prisoners were tried together and sat in the large dock, each wearing a number on their chest.  
On the afternoon of November 16th the verdicts were delivered. Thirty one prisoners were convicted on one or both counts and 14 acquitted of all charges. Irma Grese and Elisabeth Volkenrath were found guilty on both counts, Juana Bormann guilty only on the second charge. The following day the sentences were read out to the prisoners.  Eleven of them were sentenced to death and 19 others to various terms of imprisonment. 
The death sentences were pronounced as follows by Major-General Berney-Ficklin:
"No. 1) Kramer, 2) Klein, 3) Weingartner, 5) Hoessler, 16) Francioh, 22) Pichen, 25) Stofel, 27) Dorr. The sentence of this Court on each one of you whom I have just named is that you suffer death by being hanged".
He then passed sentence on the women as follows "No. 6) Borman, 7) Volkenrath, 9) Grese. The sentence of this court is that you suffer death by being hanged." Click here for photos.
The sentence was translated for them into German as "Tode durch den strang," literally death by the rope. All the prisoners were returned to Lüneburg prison. Nine of the eleven condemned appealed to the convening officer, Field-Marshal Montgomery, who rejected their appeals for clemency. Elizabeth Volkenrath and Juanna Borman decided not to appeal. On Saturday the 8th of December the appeals of the others were rejected and the condemned were transferred to Hameln jail the following day to await execution, being housed in a row of tiny cells along a corridor with the execution chamber at its end. The 11 from Belsen had been joined by two other men, Georg Otto Sandrock and Ludwig Schweinberger, sentenced for the murder of Pilot Officer Gerald Hood, a British prisoner of war at Almelo, Holland, on the 21st of March 1945.
The executions were set for Friday, December the 13th, 1945 and were to be carried out at half hour intervals starting at 9.34 a.m. with Irma Grese, who at 21, was the youngest of the condemned prisoners, followed by Elisabeth Volkenrath at 10.03 a.m. and Juana Bormann at 10.38 a.m. The men, including Joseph Kramer, were hanged in pairs afterwards, all 13 executions being completed by 1.00 p.m. In view of the proximity of the condemned cells to the gallows, each one of them must have heard the preceding hangings. I have read contemporary newspaper reports stating that Elizabeth Volkenrath was executed first, with Irma Grese second but this does not accord with Albert Pierrepoint’s recollection of the events.
For a detailed account of Irma Grese's case click here and here for Juana Borman’s
Elisabeth Volkenrath was 26 years old. She was convicted of numerous murders and made selections for the gas chamber. She was described as the most hated woman in the camp. Juana Borman was known as “the woman with the dogs” and took sadistic pleasure in setting her wolfhounds on prisoners to tear them to pieces.
The afternoon before execution each prisoner was weighed so the correct drop could be calculated for them. Irma Grese smiled at Pierrepoint when he asked her age. Elisabeth Volkenrath was steady but looked nervous and Juana Borman limped down the corridor looking old and haggard.

Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Ravensbrück concentration camp near Furstenberg in Germany was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women and also served as a training base for female SS supervisors. Some 3,500 women underwent training there. They then worked in Ravensbrück or were sent to other camps. The camp was established in 1938 and liberated on April 30th, 1945 by the Russian Army. The estimated number of victims there were 92,000! 
Sixteen members of the staff of were arrested and were tried between December 5th 1946 and February 3rd 1947 by a court in the British zone on charges of murder and brutality. All were found guilty on Monday, the 3rd of February 1947, except one, who died during the trial. Eleven were sentenced to hang, including five women, head nurse Elisabeth Marschall, Aufseherin Greta Bösel, Oberaufseherin Dorothea Binz and Kapos Carmen Mory and Vera Salvequart. 
41 year old Mory cut her wrists during the night of April 9th with a razor blade she had concealed in her shoe and thus escaped the noose.  She was buried within the prison grounds.  Swiss born Mory was unusual in that she had worked as a spy for the French, the Nazis and finally the British before and during the War and had been sentenced to death by each in turn but always managed to dodge her execution, by good fortune on the first two occasions. She was a prisoner in Ravensbrück, having been reprieved by the Nazis, and here she made the most of her situation by becoming a Kapo and spying on other prisoners and assisting the staff. Due to a shortage of personnel, the SS frequently used prisoners (Kapo’s) to supervise other non German inmates.

On the 2nd of May 1947, Albert Pierrepoint hanged the remaining three women, one at a time starting with Elisabeth Marschall who was nearly 61 years old, followed by 39 year old Greta Bösel at 9.55 a.m. and then by 27 year old Dorothea Binz.

Elisabeth Marschall had been born on the 24th of May 1886 and became a nurse in 1909.  She rose to the rank of Oberschwester (Head Nurse) in the Revier (hospital) barracks at Ravensbrück.  Here she maltreated sick prisoners and also took part in horrific experiments.  She also made selections for the gas chambers.

Greta Bösel was born on May 9th, 1908 in Elberfeld, Germany and was a trained nurse. She went to work in Ravensbrück in August 1944. Her job was to supervise female working teams. She is supposed to have said: "Let them rot if they can't work." During her trial, she made contradictory statements about her role in selecting prisoners for the death camps.

Dorothea Binz had been born on the 16th of March 1920 in the town of Dulstarlake and had never married. She had joined the staff of Ravensbrück in April 1939 and worked as an Aufseherin in the women's camp before being promoted to Oberaufseherin. She was arrested inHamburg in May 1945 and came to trial at the first Ravensbrück trial.

The third woman, 28 year old Czechoslovakian born Vera Salvequart had not been an SS guard, but rather a prisoner herself in Ravensbrück. She was born on the 26th of November 1919 in Wonotsch and had trained as a nurse. She had also served several periods in prison. She claimed to have stolen plans for the V2 rocket and passed these to Britain. She was sent to KZ Ravensbrück in December 1944 and as a Kapo worked as a nurse in the camp's hospital wing. Here she was said to have administered poison in form of a white powder to some of the patients although most survived. 
Vera Salvequart petitioned the King for a reprieve in view of her passing secrets to the British. She was granted a stay while this was considered but the Royal prerogative of mercy was withheld and on the 26th of June 1947 she followed the other three to the gallows, her body being buried with the rest in the grounds of Hameln prison. Click here for photos.

The third Ravensbrück trial, the so called "Uckermark trial", was held between April 14th and April 26th 1948 to hear the cases of five women officials from the Uckermark concentration camp and extermination complex.  This was a satellite camp that housed girls aged 16 – 21.  Two of the women were acquitted, two received prison terms but Ruth Closius was condemned to death. Ruth Closius, (married name Neudeck) was born in July 1920. She had belonged to the SS guard staff of Ravensbrück and had worked there in various capacities from the 3rd of July 1944, including work in the punishment barracks in late 1944. She was promoted to Oberaufseherin (senior supervisor), at Uckermark in early 1945 and worked there until the camp was liberated. She was convicted of the torture and murder of men, women and children and of selecting prisoners for the gas chambers. She was hanged on the 29th of July 1948.

The seventh series of Ravensbrück trials was held between July 2nd and July 21st, 1948 to hear the cases of Aufseherin accused of maltreatment of prisoners and making selections for the gas chambers.  Two of the six were acquitted, two given prison terms and two sentenced to death. These were 60 year old Emma Zimmer, nee Menzel, and 36 year old Ida Bertha Schreiber (or Schreiter) who were hanged on the20th of September 1948.  No other women were executed as result of the other Ravensbrück trials although others received death sentences which were later commuted to prison terms.

The bodies of the first 93 executed up to 1947 were originally buried at Hameln but transferred to Wehl cemetery in 1954. The bodies from the later 127 executions were interred directly at Wehl.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Auschwitz was established in May 1940, on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, on the outskirts of the town of Oswiecim in Poland. The Germans called the town Auschwitz and this became the name of the camp. It was expanded into three main camps, Auschwitz I, Birkenau, Auschwitz II - Monowitz and had some 40 satellite camps. Initially, Auschwitz was used to house Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war and gypsies. From June 1942, it was used as an extermination camp for European Jews who were killed in the gas chambers at - Birkenau. It is thought that around one million people died in this camp. It was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

The trial of the staff who had been captured took place at Krakow in Poland in the autumn of 1947 and concluded on the 22nd of December of that year. Twenty one defendants, including ex-commandant Liebehenschel, and two women, Maria Mandel, head of the women's camp and Therese Rosi Brandel, were condemned to death by the Supreme People's Court in Krakow.

SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel, a 36 year old blonde, was born at Munzkirchen in Austria in January 1912 and joined the SS in 1938. From October 1938 to May 1939, she was Aufseherin at KZ Lichtenburg and then from May 1939 to October 1942 she was Aufseherin in KZ Ravensbrück. She then transferred as an Oberaufseherin to KZ Auschwitz where she worked until the 30th of November 1944. She was moved on to KZ Mühldorf where she continued until May 1945. Her arrest came on August 10th, 1945. She was reported to be highly intelligent and dedicated to her work. The prisoners, however, referred to her as "the beast" as she was noted for her brutality and enjoyment in selecting women and children for the gas chambers. She also had a passion for classical music and encouraged the women's orchestra in Auschwitz. The orchestra were kept busy playing at roll calls, to accompany official speeches, to welcome transports and at hangings. Click here for photo.

Therese Rosi Brandel been born in Bavaria in February 1902 and began training at Ravensbrück in 1940.  She worked as an SS Aufseherin in KZ Ravensbrück before transferring to Auschwitz in 1942 and then to the KZ Muehldorf (a satellite camp of Dachau). She beat her prisoners and made selections for the gas chambers. In 1943, she received the war service medal for her work there. She was arrested on the 29th of August 1945 in the Bavarian mountains. Click here for photo of her.

On January 24th, 1948, all twenty one prisoners were executed in groups of five or six within the Montelupich prison in Krakow. The hangings commenced at 7:09 a.m. with Maria Mandel and four male prisoners, Artur Liebehenschel, Hans Aumeier, Maximilian Grabner and Carl Möckel. Each prisoner in turn was made to mount a simple step up. When they were noosed, this was removed leaving them suspended, slowly strangling to death. The four men were hanged one at a time, followed by Maria Mandel. It is reported that it was 15 minutes before they could be declared dead. 
A second group of five prisoners, all men, were hanged at 7.43 a.m. with a further five men following them at 8.16 a.m. The final group comprising of five men and the other condemned woman, Therese Brandl, went to the gallows at 8.48 a.m. Again, they were hanged one by one and were certified dead 15 minutes later. 
After execution, the 21 bodies were all taken to the Medical School at the University of Krakow for autopsy and as specimens for the students to practice anatomy on.
A further woman to be hanged at Krakow was 46 year old Elizabeth Lupka. (Click here for photo of her) She was born on the 27th of October 1902 in the town of Damner and married in 1934. The marriage was childless and soon ended in divorce. From 1937 to 1942, she worked inBerlin in the aircraft industry before becoming an SS Aufseherin in the KZ Ravensbrück. From March 1943 until January 1945, she worked in the KZ Auschwitz Birkenau. She beat her prisoners (women and children) and participated in the selections for the gas chambers. She was arrested on the 6th of June 1945 and brought to trial on the 6th of July 1948 at the district court in Krakow where she was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. She was executed on the 8th of January 1949 at 7.05 a.m. in the Montelupich prison in Krakow. Her body was also taken to the Medical School at the University of Krakow for use as an anatomical specimen by the medical students. 
Margot Drexler (also given as Dreschel) was another SS Aufseherin in Auschwitz who was particularly feared by the women inmates, whom she beat and starved to death. She had last worked at the Ravensbruck subcamp of Neustadt-Glewe. After the war, she tried to escape but was caught in Pirma-Bautzen in Czechoslovakia in the Russian zone in May 1945 and hanged in May or June of that year in Bautzen. Maria Mandel told her trial that Drexler had made selections for the gas chambers.

Stutthof Concentration Camp.
Stutthof concentration camp, 34 km. from Danzig , was the first concentration camp created by the Nazis outside Germany, in September 1939. From June 1944, Stutthof became a death camp as part of Hitler's programme of exterminating European Jews. It expanded rapidly over its five year life and had many satellite camps. This expansion required a commensurate increase in staff and local people with Nazi sympathies were recruited. 
Altogether some 110,000 men, women and children were sent to Stutthof. It is estimated that as many as 65,000 of these were put to death in the gas chamber or by hanging or shooting, while many died of disease and ill treatment.

The camp was liberated by the Russians on May 10th, 1945 and the Commandant, Johann Pauls, and some of his staff were put on trial by the Polish Special Law Court at Danzig between April 25th and May 31st, 1946. All were represented by counsel. Eleven of the defendants, five women and six men, were found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death. These were Johann Pauls, SS-Aufseherins Jenny Wanda Barkmann, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff, Ewa Paradies, Gerda Steinhoff and five other men who had been Kapo's in the camp. Click here for photo of them in the dock.
They had all pleaded "not guilty" to the general charge of war crimes and the women did not seem to take the trial too seriously until the end. After the sentence, they appealed for clemency but these appeals were rejected by the Polish president.
Thus all 11 were publicly hanged before a large crowd, estimated at several thousand, at 5.00 p.m. on July 4th, 1946 at Biskupia Gorka hill nearDanzig. A row of simple gallows had been set up in a large open area, four double ones with a triple gallows in the middle. A fleet of open trucks brought the prisoners to the execution ground, their hands and legs tied with cords. The trucks were backed under the gallows and the condemned made to stand on the tailboards or on the chairs on which they had sat. A simple cord noose was put round their necks and when the preparations were complete, each truck was driven forward leaving them suspended. They were not hooded and given only a short drop, and as can be seen from the photos, some of them struggled for some time after suspension. It is alleged that one man and two women (un-named) struggled and fought with their guards prior to being hanged, although the others seemed to accept their fate calmly. The whole event was recorded by official press photographers, hence the clarity of the pictures. Click here for photo.

Twenty four year old Jenny Wanda Barkmann was thought to be from Hamburg and was nicknamed "The Beautiful Spectre" by the camp inmates who considered her to be a ruthless killer. She was arrested in May 1945 at a railway station near Danzig trying to escape. At her trial she is reported to have flirted with her male guards and wore a different hairstyle each day. She is reported to have said after being condemned: "Life is a pleasure and pleasure as a rule is a short distance".Click here for photos.

Elizabeth Becker was not quite 23 years old and had been born locally on the 20th of July 1923 at Nowy Staw near Danzig. She had married in 1936 and had been a member of the NSDAP and the BDM from 1938 to 1940. She worked in agriculture from 1941 to 1944 in Nowy Staw and joined the staff of Stutthof in September 1944 becoming an SS Aufseherin in SK-III Stutthof (the women’s camp) where she made selections for the gas chambers. After she was condemned, she submitted an appeal for commutation of her death sentence to the Polish president. The court recommended the commutation and substitution of a 15 year term of imprisonment because she had committed far fewer and less dreadful crimes than the others. The president, Boleslaw Bierut, however, rejected this request and she was executed with the rest of the women. Click here for photos.

Wanda Klaff (nee Kalacinski) was of German origin but had been born in Danzig on the 6th of March 1922.  When she left school in 1938 she initially worked in a jam factory, leaving in 1942 to get married to one Willy Gapes and becoming a housewife. In 1944 Wanda joined the staff at Stutthof satellite camp at Praust, moving later to Russoschin sub-camp. She contracted typhoid and was hospitalised in Danzig where she was arrested on the June the 11th, 1945. It would appear form the photos that Wanda, unlike the other four, was hanged by a woman, rather than a male former camp inmate. Click here for photos.

Gerda Steinhoff was 24 and also from Danzig. She worked on a farm in Tygenhagen and later in a baker's shop in Danzig until 1944. She married in January 1944 and had one child. She went to work for the SS at Stutthof in October 1944 and was quickly promoted to Oberaufseherin at KZ Danzig (a satellite of Stutthof).  In January 1945, she moved to KZ Bydgoszcz (another satellite camp) where she remained until it was liberated. She received the “Iron Cross” for her wartime efforts.  Click here for photos.  She was arrested by Polish police on the 25th of May 1945.

Ewa Paradies was born at Lauenburg, (now Lebork) in Poland on the 17th of December 1920 and had various jobs after leaving school in 1935. She joined the staff of Stutthof SK-III in August 1944 and was trained as an Aufseherin, being transferred to the Bromberg-Ost subcamp of Stutthof in October 1944 and returning to Stutthof in January 1945.  She was arrested in May 1945 at Lauenburg. Click here for photos.

Other camps.
There are records of at least three other women who were executed. 
Else Lieschen Frieda Ehrich, who had been the women's camp commandant at Majdanek concentration camp, was hanged on the 26th of October 1948 in the prison at Lubin in Poland. Click here for photo.

Ruth Elfriede Hildner was tried by the Extraordinary People's Court in Písek, Czechoslovakia on the 2nd of May 1947 and hanged six hours later, presumably using the pole hanging method.  She had been a guard at Zwodau, a subcamp of Flossenburg, in Czechoslovakia.

Sydonia Bayer. Virtually nothing is known about this woman other that she trained at Ravensbrück and was tried and hanged in Poland.

In conclusion.
One can only wonder, looking back from 50 years later what turned these women into virtual monsters. Was it their total belief in the rightness of Hitler's policies or did they possess a latent sadism or perhaps a mixture of both? It is terrifying the acts that people can commit when they are out of control and have no fear of the consequences. I suspect that these women thought that Germany would win the war and that they would rise in the regime. Typically, they viewed their prisoners as "dreck," the German for rubbish and as sub-humans. Therefore, the prisoners' lives and feelings were completely irrelevant, and it was just a simple matter of controlling them through fear and brutal repression. One wonders too whether they just became inured to the continuous acts of cruelty. Many of the people tried for war crimes insisted that they were just carrying out orders from above but this doesn't really ring true, either now or to the judges at their tribunals, when one looks at the acts of sadism that they visited on their prisoners. 
It is easy to have sympathy with the young women from Stutthof, whose unnecessarily cruel executions were so well documented, but one must remember what they did. As a young soldier said to Pierrepoint on the eve of the hangings of the Belsen women, "if you had been in Belsen under this lot, you wouldn't be able to feel sorry for them."  (Pierrepoint had expressed some sympathy for the prisoners.)
Had it not been for the war, one suspects that these women would most probably have lived normal lives with jobs, husbands and children.
It is notable that in many cases it was quite junior people who were caught, tried and in some cases executed. A lot of the more senior ones were able to escape justice. However, the Commandants of many of the concentration camps were caught and in most cases given the death penalty.

Juana Borman (or Bormann) (click here for photo) was born at Birkenfelde in East Prussia on September the 10th 1893. She was apparently deeply religious and had given up missionary work to join the SS.  She went to work at Lichtenburg, the first women’s concentration camp, as a civilian employee on the 1st of March 1938 and initially worked in the kitchens.  She and the rest of the staff and inmates were transferred to Ravensbrück concentration camp when it opened in May 1939.  Here she was as an Aufseherin (overseer).  In March 1942 she moved on toAuschwitz concentration camp in Poland and then in October of that year was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  In 1944, she went to the satellite camp at Hindenburg, before returning to Ravensbrück in January 1945.  In March of that year she was sent to Bergen-Belsen, where she served under its commandant Josef Kramer.  Like most of the defendants to stand trial for war crimes at Belsen she was arrested at the camp on the day it was liberated.  The staff were remanded to the prison at Celle to await trial.

 

The Belsen Trial as it was called was conducted by the British Military Tribunal at No. 30 Lindentrasse, Lüneburg, in Germany from September 17th to November 17th, 1945 under court President Major-General H.M.P. Berney-Ficklin, sitting with five other officers. The prosecution was in the hands of a team of four military lawyers. All the prisoners were tried together and sat in the large dock, each wearing a number on their chest. Juana wore the number 6 card. Like all the defendants she had the benefit of counsel, in her case, Major A S Munro and pleaded not guilty to the charge of committing a war crime.  She was to hear allegations from former inmates that she beat prisoners, set her dogs on them and selected them for the gas chambers.

Jewish born Anni Jonas, from Breslau, accused Juana of pointing out prisoners to Dr. Mengele who looked too weak for work.  They were then sent to the gas chamber.  Another Jewish woman, Dora Szafran, had been an inmate at Auschwitz since June 1943 and had witnessed Juana at selections for gassing with Dr. Klein.  She also related to the court how she had seen Juana set her dog, which she thought was a German Shepherd, on a woman in a work detail who had a swollen leg and could not keep up on the march back from Auschwitz.  The woman was badly savaged and was taken away on a stretcher.  It is not known whether she survived.  Dora stated to the court that Juana seemed proud of what she had done.

Polish born Hanka Rozenwayg had been in Belsen for some 18 months before liberation also told the court that Juana had set her dog on prisoners and recounted an occasion when Juana had beaten her and several other women for lighting a fire in her hut without permission.  She told the court that all the women inmates were afraid of Juana.

 

Another Pole, Peter Makar, related how he recognized Juana as the woman who had been in charge of the pigsties at Belsen and how he had twice witnessed her beating women in March 1945 who she had caught stealing vegetables.

 

Dora Silberberg accused Juana of beating her and a friend when she tried to stop her friend who was ill being forced to go to work.  Juana had allegedly punched her in the face hard enough to knock out tow of Dora’s teeth.  Juana then set the dog on Dora’s friend and it knocked her down and dragged her round by the leg.  Dora’s friend died later form her injuries.

 

Alexandra Siwidowa accused Juana of beating prisoners for wearing their better clothes and also stripping them and making them perform strenuous physical exercises. When they began to flag, he told the court that she beat them all over the body with a rubber or wooden stick. Juana denied this outright.

 

Major Munro called Juana to give evidence in her defence.  She told the court that she was a single woman and related her history of work in the concentration camps.  Major Munro specifically asked her about her involvement in the selection process for gassing to which she replied “No, I never have been present at these selections, I had to be present at morning roll-call and night roll-call, but at nothing else”.

 

She admitted that she did have a dog at Belsen, which she claimed were her own pet rather than a camp guard dog, but denied that she had ever set it on prisoners, telling the court that this would have been against the camp rules and would have led to severe punishment for her.  She also mentioned that another Aufseherin named Kuck, of whom there is no surviving record, resembled her and also had a dog.  Juana dismissed the statements of two witnesses regarding her use of a wolfhound dog, telling the court that she had never owned a wolfhound. 

 

She dismissed the statements of some witnesses as untrue on the basis that she was not in the place they stated at the time of the alleged offence.  One, Helena Kopper, had told the court that Juana was the most hated guard in the camp and that she was in charge of the clothing store.  She alleged that Juana had again set her dog on a young woman at the store who died later.  Juana denied ever having been in charge of the clothing store and was not at Birkenau at the time.

 

She denied that she went out outside the camps on work Kommandos and agreed that she oversaw prisoners working at the piggery in Belsen. 

 

She accepted that she slapped prisoners who were cheeky or disobedient but denied beating them with sticks etc.  She mentioned that the first time she had ever seen a rubber truncheon it was in the hands of an British military policemen guarding her in the prison at Celle.

 

She could offer no explanation to Major Munro for the witness allegations against her.  He also asked her if she had tried to leave the S.S.  Juana told him that she had applied in writing to her Oberaufseherin in 1943 but that her application had been turned down.

 

She was cross-examined by Colonel Backhouse who asked her if she was very much worse than all the other Aufseherinnen in her treatment of the internees? She replied that she did not know and only wanted to keep order. 

He questioned her further on her attendance at selections and she told him that “ I did not have time to attend them, and I did not like the idea of attending them”.  She denied having even seen a selection or ever having seen the crematorium.  Colonel Backhouse also pressed Juana further on the dog issue.  She insisted that the dog was a pet and her own property and that it had never been trained to attack prisoners.  He pointed out to her the testimony of another of the accused, Herta Ehlert, who said in her statement: “From my own knowledge of Juana Borman and from working with her I believe that the stories about her brutality to prisoners are true, although I have not myself witnessed it. I have often seen the dog which she had and heard she used to let it loose on prisoners. Although I have not seen it I can well believe it to be true.” Juana insisted that this was a lie. 

Colonel Backhouse asked her about the pigs at Belsen, which she was in charge of when the camp was liberated. She told him that there were 52 pigs at the time and that were fed on a swill of potatoes and turnips.  He pointed out to her that whilst the pigs were being fed reasonably well the prisoners were starving.  She replied that she fed the pigs the food she was given for them.

 

The Judge Advocate questioned Juana about Aufseherin Kuck, (who was also alleged to have a dog) and one gets the impression that he did not really believe that this woman existed.

 

Juana was found not guilty on count one but guilty of count two of the indictment against her.

This was that : “At Auschwitz, Poland, between 1st October 1942 and 30th April 1945, when members of the staff at Auschwitz Concentration Camp responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, in violation of the law and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of certain of such persons, causing the deaths of Rachella Silberstein (a Polish national), Allied nationals, and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown, and physical suffering to other persons interned there, Allied nationals, and particularly to Eva Gryka and Hanka Rosenwayg (both Polish nationals) and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown.”

 

Prior to her sentencing a mitigation speech was made on her behalf by Major Munro.  He painted a picture of a sad and lonely middle aged woman and invited the court “to take into account what the conditions in concentration camps could do to weak human nature”.

This mitigation was not successful and on the afternoon of November 16th the verdicts were delivered, the President of the court passed the death sentence on Juana, Elizabeth Volkenrath and Irma Grese as follows : "No. 6 Bormann, 7 Volkenrath, 9 Grese. The sentence of this court is that you suffer death by being hanged." The sentence was translated into German as "Tode durch den strang," literally death by the rope. She reportedly left the court as if in a dream but later chose not to appeal her sentence. She was returned to Lüneburg prison and when the cases and sentences had been reviewed she was transferred to Hameln jail on Sunday the 9th of December to await execution with the other condemned. The hangings were set for Friday, December the 13th, 1945 and were to be carried out at half hour intervals starting at 9.34 a.m. with Irma Grese, who at 21, was the youngest of the condemned prisoners, followed by Elisabeth Volkenrath at 10.03 a.m. and Juana at 10.38 a.m.

 Albert Pierrepoint described Juana during her last hours when he saw her on the afternoon prior to her execution.  Each prisoner had to be weighed to allow him to calculate the correct drop. He wrote in his autobiography how she limped down the corridor looking old and haggard. He said she was forty two years old (actually fifty three), only a little over five feet high and 101 lbs in weight. She was trembling as she was put on the scales. In German she said “I have my feelings”. The drop was calculated at 5 feet 8 inches in view of her frail condition.

rma Grese was one the most notorious of the female Nazi war criminals and was one of the relatively small number of women who had worked in the concentration camps that were hanged for war crimes by the Allies. She became the youngest woman executed under British jurisdiction in the 20th century and was also the youngest of the concentration camp guards to be hanged.

Early days.
Irma's childhood was unremarkable, she was born on the 7th of October 1923, to a normal, hardworking, agricultural family and left school in 1938 at the age of 15. She worked on a farm for six months, then in a shop, and later for two years in a hospital. She wanted to become a nurse but the Labour Exchange sent her to work at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp instead.
Like many other young people, she was swayed by Hitler's oratory and shocked by the corruption of theWeimar Republic government. She joined a Nazi youth group and wholeheartedly embraced their ideas.
At age 19, she found herself a supervisor at Ravensbrück which was used as a training camp for many female SS guards, just at the time the Nazi anti-Jewish programmes were at their height in July 1942. In March 1943 she was transferred to Auschwitz. She later did a further spell at Ravensbrück and then went to Bergen-Belsenin March 1945. Irma rose to the rank of Oberaufseherin (Senior SS-Supervisor) in the autumn of 1943, in day to day control of around 30,000 women prisoners, mainly Polish and Hungarian Jews. She was the second most senior female guard there.


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Her crimes and trial.
Belsen was liberated by the British and Irma along with the camp's Commandant, Joseph Kramer, and other guards were all arrested. He and 44 of the others were indicted for war crimes by a British Military Court, under Royal Warrant of the 14th of June 1945, on various charges of murder and ill treatment of their prisoners atBergen-Belsen and Auschwitz concentration camps. The first phase of the Belsen Trials, as they were known, took place at No. 30 Lindentrasse, Lüneburg in Germany between the 17th of September and the 17th of November 1945. All the accused were represented by counsel. Irma being defended by Major L.S.W.Cranfield.

Irma pleaded not guilty to the specific charges brought against her. Many of the survivors of Belsen testified against Irma. (see photo at her trial wearing her number.) They spoke of the beatings and the arbitrary shooting of prisoners, the savaging of prisoners by her trained and half starved dogs, of her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers and of her sexual pleasure at these acts of cruelty. She habitually wore heavy boots and carried a whip and a pistol. 
She was alleged to have used both physical and emotional methods to torture the camp's inmates and seemed to enjoy shooting prisoners in cold blood. It was claimed that she beat some of the women to death and whipped others mercilessly using a plaited cellophane whip. Survivors reported that she seemed to derive great sexual pleasure from these acts of sadism. 
It has been claimed that in her hut was found the skins of three inmates that she had had made into lamp shades, although this is now disputed. 
She said in her defense that "Himmler is responsible for all that has happened but I suppose I have as much guilt as the others above me."
On the 54th day of the trial she was, not surprisingly, found guilty on both counts one and two of the indictment. Of the defendants found guilty, eight men and three women were sentenced to death and 19 to various terms of imprisonment. The President of the court passed sentence on the female defendants as follows: "No. 6 Bormann, 7, Volkenrath, 9, Grese. The sentence of this court is that you suffer death by being hanged." She showed little emotion throughout her trial and none when the death sentence was translated into German for her as "Tode durch den Strang," literally death by the rope. The prisoners were returned to Luneberg prison. Eight of the condemned, including Irma, appealed to Field-Marshal Montgomery but all had their appeals for clemency rejected.  This was announced on Saturday the 8th of December and all eleven moved from Luneburg prison to Hameln the following day.  Elizabeth Volkenrath and Juana Bormann chose not to appeal their sentences.

More details of her trial can be found at http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/belsen5.htm#12. Irma Grese

Execution.
The hangings were to take place in Hameln (Hamelin) jail in Wesfalia. The British Army's Royal Engineers constructed a gallows there and the eleven condemned were housed in a row of tiny cells along a corridor with the execution chamber at its end, together with two other men who had been condemned by the War Crimes Commission.  It has been reported that there were two gallows but I think this is incorrect and that it was a double gallows, i.e. the trap was big enough to hang two prisoners side by side.
Albert Pierrepoint was flown over specially to carry out the executions and their hangings were planned for Friday, December the 13th, 1945. The women were to be hanged individually and the men in pairs to speed up the process.

In Pierrepoint's biography, he describes the events leading up to Irma's execution and the hanging itself as follows :
"At last we finished noting the details of the men, and RSM O'Neil ordered 'bring out Irma Grese'. She walked out of her cell and came towards us laughing. She seemed as bonny a girl as one could ever wish to meet. She answered O'Neil's questions, but when he asked her age she paused and smiled. I found that we were both smiling with her, as if we realised the conventional embarrassment of a woman revealing her age. Eventually she said 'twenty-one,' which we knew to be correct. O'Neil asked her to step on to the scales. 'Schnell!' she said - the German for quick."  In Britain prison warders and medical staff would have been responsible for weighing and measuring the condemned prior to execution but on this occasion Albert Pierrepoint and RSM O'Neil had to do it.  Irma was 5 feet 51/4 inches tall and weighed 150 lbs. She was given a drop of 7 feet 4 inches.

According to Pierrepoint's biography it was decided that as Irma was the youngest of the three women, she would be the first to die. However in the press release from Field-Marshal Montgomery’s office after the executions it was stated that she was the second to be hanged, after Elizabeth Volkenrath.  The first execution took place at 9.34 a.m. and the second at 10.03 a.m. and the third, that of Juana Bormann at 10.38 a.m.  Brigadier Paton-Walsh was the British officer in charge of the executions and with him was the deputy governor of Strangeways prison, Miss Wilson, to oversee the hanging of the three women.  "The following morning we climbed the stairs to the cells where the condemned were waiting. A German officer at the door leading to the corridor flung open the door and we filed past the row of faces and into the execution chamber. The officers stood at attention. Brigadier Paton-Walsh stood with his wristwatch raised. He gave me the signal, and a sigh of released breath was audible in the chamber, I walked into the corridor. 'Irma Grese,' I called. 
The German guards quickly closed all grills on twelve of the inspection holes and opened one door. Irma Grese stepped out. The cell was far too small for me to go inside, and I had to pinion her in the corridor. 'Follow me,' I said in English, and O'Neil repeated the order in German. At 9.34 a.m. she walked into the execution chamber, gazed for a moment at the officials standing round it, then walked on to the centre of the trap, where I had made a chalk mark. She stood on this mark very firmly, and as I placed the white cap over her hand she said in her languid voice 'Schnell'. The drop crashed down, and the doctor followed me into the pit and pronounced her dead. After twenty minutes the body was taken down and placed in a coffin ready for burial."  It has recently been revealed that some of the prisoners were given pericardial injections of chloroform to stop their hearts beating and obviate the need to leave them suspended for an hour which was normal practice in England. It is not known whether this was done to the women although Irma's body was able to be removed from the rope after 20 minutes.

Comment.
The precise extent of her crimes is not easy to be certain of - it is impossible to know exactly how many prisoners Irma Grese killed, tortured, whipped or in other ways assaulted although all the witnesses claim it was a very large number. Bear in mind that at that time in Britain, she could have been hanged for just one murder.
But what drives a teenage girl to behave in this awful fashion?
She admitted that she regarded the inmates of the concentration camps as "dreck", i.e. subhuman rubbish and like you or I may kill an insect without feeling guilty about it, she saw nothing inherently wrong in what she was doing. At her trial, she denied selecting prisoners for the gas chambers although she did admit she knew of their existence. She did admit to whipping prisoners with the cellophane whip and also to beating them with a walking stick, despite knowing that both practices were contrary to the camp rules.

Hers is a classic case of what happens when an immature person is given total charge of a large number of people who are viewed by those in authority as totally expendable. No one seemed to care how many of the concentration camp inmates were killed or beaten by her even though there were nominal rules against mistreatment of prisoners. So Irma had, effectively, freehand to kill and torture to her heart's content. She clearly felt that she was carrying out the Hitler's and Himmler's policies, which in her mind largely exempted her from responsibility for her actions.

It has been said that Nazism replaced this young girl's normal sex life and that her sexuality manifested itself in the brutal and sadistic treatment of her female prisoners. But for the conditions of war prevailing at this time in her life, one wonders whether Irma would have kept her sexual/sadistic impulses contained or just acted them out in sexual fantasies with her partner. She may well have grown up and become a respectable citizen, wife and mother had she lived under normal peacetime conditions.

It is clear that she accepted her fate with great courage - perhaps she felt she was dying for her country - almost a form of martyrdom - perhaps she felt that it was the best way out for her as Germany had lost the war.

Sixteen members of the staff of were arrested and were tried between December 5th 1946 and February 3rd 1947 by a court in the British zone on charges of murder and brutality. All were found guilty on Monday, the 3rd of February 1947, except one, who died during the trial. Eleven were sentenced to hang, including five women, head nurse Elisabeth Marschall, Aufseherin Greta Bösel, Oberaufseherin Dorothea Binz and Kapos Carmen Mory and Vera Salvequart. 
41 year old Mory cut her wrists during the night of April 9th with a razor blade she had concealed in her shoe and thus escaped the noose.  She was buried within the prison grounds.  Swiss born Mory was unusual in that she had worked as a spy for the French, the Nazis and finally the British before and during the War and had been sentenced to death by each in turn but always managed to dodge her execution, by good fortune on the first two occasions. She was a prisoner in Ravensbrück, having been reprieved by the Nazis, and here she made the most of her situation by becoming a Kapo and spying on other prisoners and assisting the staff. Due to a shortage of personnel, the SS frequently used prisoners (Kapo’s) to supervise other non German inmates.

On the 2nd of May 1947, Albert Pierrepoint hanged the remaining three women, one at a time starting with Elisabeth Marschall who was nearly 61 years old, followed by 39 year old Greta Bösel at 9.55 a.m. and then by 27 year old Dorothea Binz.

Elisabeth Marschall had been born on the 24th of May 1886 and became a nurse in 1909.  She rose to the rank of Oberschwester (Head Nurse) in the Revier (hospital) barracks at Ravensbrück.  Here she maltreated sick prisoners and also took part in horrific experiments.  She also made selections for the gas chambers.

Greta Bösel was born on May 9th, 1908 in Elberfeld, Germany and was a trained nurse. She went to work in Ravensbrück in August 1944. Her job was to supervise female working teams. She is supposed to have said: "Let them rot if they can't work." During her trial, she made contradictory statements about her role in selecting prisoners for the death camps.

Dorothea Binz had been born on the 16th of March 1920 in the town of Dulstarlake and had never married. She had joined the staff of Ravensbrück in April 1939 and worked as an Aufseherin in the women's camp before being promoted to Oberaufseherin. She was arrested inHamburg in May 1945 and came to trial at the first Ravensbrück trial.

The third woman, 28 year old Czechoslovakian born Vera Salvequart had not been an SS guard, but rather a prisoner herself in Ravensbrück. She was born on the 26th of November 1919 in Wonotsch and had trained as a nurse. She had also served several periods in prison. She claimed to have stolen plans for the V2 rocket and passed these to Britain. She was sent to KZ Ravensbrück in December 1944 and as a Kapo worked as a nurse in the camp's hospital wing. Here she was said to have administered poison in form of a white powder to some of the patients although most survived. 
Vera Salvequart petitioned the King for a reprieve in view of her passing secrets to the British. She was granted a stay while this was considered but the Royal prerogative of mercy was withheld and on the 26th of June 1947 she followed the other three to the gallows, her body being buried with the rest in the grounds of Hameln prison. 

The third Ravensbrück trial, the so called "Uckermark trial", was held between April 14th and April 26th 1948 to hear the cases of five women officials from the Uckermark concentration camp and extermination complex.  This was a satellite camp that housed girls aged 16 – 21.  Two of the women were acquitted, two received prison terms but Ruth Closius was condemned to death. Ruth Closius, (married name Neudeck) was born in July 1920. She had belonged to the SS guard staff of Ravensbrück and had worked there in various capacities from the 3rd of July 1944, including work in the punishment barracks in late 1944. She was promoted to Oberaufseherin (senior supervisor), at Uckermark in early 1945 and worked there until the camp was liberated. She was convicted of the torture and murder of men, women and children and of selecting prisoners for the gas chambers. She was hanged on the 29th of July 1948.

The seventh series of Ravensbrück trials was held between July 2nd and July 21st, 1948 to hear the cases of Aufseherin accused of maltreatment of prisoners and making selections for the gas chambers.  Two of the six were acquitted, two given prison terms and two sentenced to death. These were 60 year old Emma Zimmer, nee Menzel, and 36 year old Ida Bertha Schreiber (or Schreiter) who were hanged on the20th of September 1948.  No other women were executed as result of the other Ravensbrück trials although others received death sentences which were later commuted to prison terms.

The bodies of the first 93 executed up to 1947 were originally buried at Hameln but transferred to Wehl cemetery in 1954. The bodies from the later 127 executions were interred directly at Wehl.

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Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Auschwitz was established in May 1940, on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, on the outskirts of the town of Oswiecim in Poland. The Germans called the town Auschwitz and this became the name of the camp. It was expanded into three main camps, Auschwitz I, Birkenau, Auschwitz II - Monowitz and had some 40 satellite camps. Initially, Auschwitz was used to house Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war and gypsies. From June 1942, it was used as an extermination camp for European Jews who were killed in the gas chambers at - Birkenau. It is thought that around one million people died in this camp. It was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

The trial of the staff who had been captured took place at Krakow in Poland in the autumn of 1947 and concluded on the 22nd of December of that year. Twenty one defendants, including ex-commandant Liebehenschel, and two women, Maria Mandel, head of the women's camp and Therese Rosi Brandel, were condemned to death by the Supreme People's Court in Krakow.

SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel, a 36 year old blonde, was born at Munzkirchen in Austria in January 1912 and joined the SS in 1938. From October 1938 to May 1939, she was Aufseherin at KZ Lichtenburg and then from May 1939 to October 1942 she was Aufseherin in KZ Ravensbrück. She then transferred as an Oberaufseherin to KZ Auschwitz where she worked until the 30th of November 1944. She was moved on to KZ Mühldorf where she continued until May 1945. Her arrest came on August 10th, 1945. She was reported to be highly intelligent and dedicated to her work. The prisoners, however, referred to her as "the beast" as she was noted for her brutality and enjoyment in selecting women and children for the gas chambers. She also had a passion for classical music and encouraged the women's orchestra in Auschwitz. The orchestra were kept busy playing at roll calls, to accompany official speeches, to welcome transports and at hangings. 

Therese Rosi Brandel been born in Bavaria in February 1902 and began training at Ravensbrück in 1940.  She worked as an SS Aufseherin in KZ Ravensbrück before transferring to Auschwitz in 1942 and then to the KZ Muehldorf (a satellite camp of Dachau). She beat her prisoners and made selections for the gas chambers. In 1943, she received the war service medal for her work there. She was arrested on the 29th of August 1945 in the Bavarian mountains.

On January 24th, 1948, all twenty one prisoners were executed in groups of five or six within the Montelupich prison in Krakow. The hangings commenced at 7:09 a.m. with Maria Mandel and four male prisoners, Artur Liebehenschel, Hans Aumeier, Maximilian Grabner and Carl Möckel. Each prisoner in turn was made to mount a simple step up. When they were noosed, this was removed leaving them suspended, slowly strangling to death. The four men were hanged one at a time, followed by Maria Mandel. It is reported that it was 15 minutes before they could be declared dead. 
A second group of five prisoners, all men, were hanged at 7.43 a.m. with a further five men following them at 8.16 a.m. The final group comprising of five men and the other condemned woman, Therese Brandl, went to the gallows at 8.48 a.m. Again, they were hanged one by one and were certified dead 15 minutes later. 
After execution, the 21 bodies were all taken to the Medical School at  the University of Krakow for autopsy and as specimens for the students to practice anatomy on.


A further woman to be hanged at Krakow was 46 year old Elizabeth Lupka. She was born on the 27th of October 1902 in the town of Damner and married in 1934. The marriage was childless and soon ended in divorce. From 1937 to 1942, she worked inBerlin in the aircraft industry before becoming an SS Aufseherin in the KZ Ravensbrück. From March 1943 until January 1945, she worked in the KZ Auschwitz Birkenau. She beat her prisoners (women and children) and participated in the selections for the gas chambers. She was arrested on the 6th of June 1945 and brought to trial on the 6th of July 1948 at the district court in Krakow where she was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. She was executed on the 8th of January 1949 at 7.05 a.m. in the Montelupich prison in Krakow. Her body was also taken to the Medical School at the University of Krakow for use as an anatomical specimen by the medical students. 
Margot Drexler (also given as Dreschel) was another SS Aufseherin in Auschwitz who was particularly feared by the women inmates, whom she beat and starved to death. She had last worked at the Ravensbruck subcamp of Neustadt-Glewe. After the war, she tried to escape but was caught in Pirma-Bautzen in Czechoslovakia in the Russian zone in May 1945 and hanged in May or June of that year in Bautzen. Maria Mandel told her trial that Drexler had made selections for the gas chambers.

Stutthof Concentration Camp.
Stutthof concentration camp, 34 km. from Danzig , was the first concentration camp created by the Nazis outside Germany, in September 1939. From June 1944, Stutthof became a death camp as part of Hitler's programme of exterminating European Jews. It expanded rapidly over its five year life and had many satellite camps. This expansion required a commensurate increase in staff and local people with Nazi sympathies were recruited. 
Altogether some 110,000 men, women and children were sent to Stutthof. It is estimated that as many as 65,000 of these were put to death in the gas chamber or by hanging or shooting, while many died of disease and ill treatment.

The camp was liberated by the Russians on May 10th, 1945 and the Commandant, Johann Pauls, and some of his staff were put on trial by the Polish Special Law Court at Danzig between April 25th and May 31st, 1946. All were represented by counsel. Eleven of the defendants, five women and six men, were found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death. These were Johann Pauls, SS-Aufseherins Jenny Wanda Barkmann, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff, Ewa Paradies, Gerda Steinhoff and five other men who had been Kapo's in the camp.


They had all pleaded "not guilty" to the general charge of war crimes and the women did not seem to take the trial too seriously until the end. After the sentence, they appealed for clemency but these appeals were rejected by the Polish president.
Thus all 11 were publicly hanged before a large crowd, estimated at several thousand, at 5.00 p.m. on July 4th, 1946 at Biskupia Gorka hill nearDanzig. A row of simple gallows had been set up in a large open area, four double ones with a triple gallows in the middle. A fleet of open trucks brought the prisoners to the execution ground, their hands and legs tied with cords. The trucks were backed under the gallows and the condemned made to stand on the tailboards or on the chairs on which they had sat. A simple cord noose was put round their necks and when the preparations were complete, each truck was driven forward leaving them suspended. They were not hooded and given only a short drop, and as can be seen from the photos, some of them struggled for some time after suspension. It is alleged that one man and two women (un-named) struggled and fought with their guards prior to being hanged, although the others seemed to accept their fate calmly. The whole event was recorded by official press photographers, hence the clarity of the pictures.

Twenty four year old Jenny Wanda Barkmann was thought to be from Hamburg and was nicknamed "The Beautiful Spectre" by the camp inmates who considered her to be a ruthless killer. She was arrested in May 1945 at a railway station near Danzig trying to escape. At her trial she is reported to have flirted with her male guards and wore a different hairstyle each day. She is reported to have said after being condemned: "Life is a pleasure and pleasure as a rule is a short distance".

Elizabeth Becker was not quite 23 years old and had been born locally on the 20th of July 1923 at Nowy Staw near Danzig. She had married in 1936 and had been a member of the NSDAP and the BDM from 1938 to 1940. She worked in agriculture from 1941 to 1944 in Nowy Staw and joined the staff of Stutthof in September 1944 becoming an SS Aufseherin in SK-III Stutthof (the women’s camp) where she made selections for the gas chambers. After she was condemned, she submitted an appeal for commutation of her death sentence to the Polish president. The court recommended the commutation and substitution of a 15 year term of imprisonment because she had committed far fewer and less dreadful crimes than the others. The president, Boleslaw Bierut, however, rejected this request and she was executed with the rest of the women. 

Wanda Klaff (nee Kalacinski) was of German origin but had been born in Danzig on the 6th of March 1922.  When she left school in 1938 she initially worked in a jam factory, leaving in 1942 to get married to one Willy Gapes and becoming a housewife. In 1944 Wanda joined the staff at Stutthof satellite camp at Praust, moving later to Russoschin sub-camp. She contracted typhoid and was hospitalised in Danzig where she was arrested on the June the 11th, 1945. It would appear form the photos that Wanda, unlike the other four, was hanged by a woman, rather than a male former camp inmate.

Gerda Steinhoff was 24 and also from Danzig. She worked on a farm in Tygenhagen and later in a baker's shop in Danzig until 1944. She married in January 1944 and had one child. She went to work for the SS at Stutthof in October 1944 and was quickly promoted to Oberaufseherin at KZ Danzig (a satellite of Stutthof).  In January 1945, she moved to KZ Bydgoszcz (another satellite camp) where she remained until it was liberated. She received the “Iron Cross” for her wartime efforts.  She was arrested by Polish police on the 25th of May 1945.

Ewa Paradies was born at Lauenburg, (now Lebork) in Poland on the 17th of December 1920 and had various jobs after leaving school in 1935. She joined the staff of Stutthof SK-III in August 1944 and was trained as an Aufseherin, being transferred to the Bromberg-Ost subcamp of Stutthof in October 1944 and returning to Stutthof in January 1945.  She was arrested in May 1945 at Lauenburg. 

Other camps.
There are records of at least three other women who were executed. 
Else Lieschen Frieda Ehrich, who had been the women's camp commandant at Majdanek concentration camp, was hanged on the 26th of October 1948 in the prison at Lubin in Poland. 

 

Ruth Elfriede Hildner was tried by the Extraordinary People's Court in Písek, Czechoslovakia on the 2nd of May 1947 and hanged six hours later, presumably using the pole hanging method.  She had been a guard at Zwodau, a subcamp of Flossenburg, in Czechoslovakia.

Sydonia Bayer. Virtually nothing is known about this woman other that she trained at Ravensbrück and was tried and hanged in Poland.

In conclusion.
One can only wonder, looking back from 50 years later what turned these women into virtual monsters. Was it their total belief in the rightness of Hitler's policies or did they possess a latent sadism or perhaps a mixture of both? It is terrifying the acts that people can commit when they are out of control and have no fear of the consequences. I suspect that these women thought that Germany would win the war and that they would rise in the regime. Typically, they viewed their prisoners as "dreck," the German for rubbish and as sub-humans. Therefore, the prisoners' lives and feelings were completely irrelevant, and it was just a simple matter of controlling them through fear and brutal repression. One wonders too whether they just became inured to the continuous acts of cruelty. Many of the people tried for war crimes insisted that they were just carrying out orders from above but this doesn't really ring true, either now or to the judges at their tribunals, when one looks at the acts of sadism that they visited on their prisoners. 
It is easy to have sympathy with the young women from Stutthof, whose unnecessarily cruel executions were so well documented, but one must remember what they did. As a young soldier said to Pierrepoint on the eve of the hangings of the Belsen women, "if you had been in Belsen under this lot, you wouldn't be able to feel sorry for them."  (Pierrepoint had expressed some sympathy for the prisoners.)
Had it not been for the war, one suspects that these women would most probably have lived normal lives with jobs, husbands and children.
It is notable that in many cases it was quite junior people who were caught, tried and in some cases executed. A lot of the more senior ones were able to escape justice. However, the Commandants of many of the concentration camps were caught and in most cases given the death penalty.

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/nazigirls.html

Added by bgill

German General Anton Dostler

 

Anton Dostler 

(Munich, May 10, 1891 – Aversa, December 1, 1945)

was a General of the Infantryin the regular German army during World War II. In the first allied war trial after the war, Dostler was tried and found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death by firing squad.

On December 1, 1945, German General Anton Dostler was shot by the American military at Aversa, Italy, for war crimes. 

Anton Dostler joined the German Army in 1910 and served as a junior officer during WWI. From the start of WWII to 1940, he served as Chief of Staff of the 7th Army. Subsequently, he commanded the 57th Infantry Division (1941-1942), the 163rd Infantry Division (1942) and the 42nd Army Corps (1943-1944). He was appointed to command the 75th Army Corps in January 1944.

Execution of U.S. soldiers

On March 22, 1944, fifteen men of the U.S. Army, including two officers, landed on the Italiancoast about 100 kilometres north of La Spezia, 250 miles behind the then established front. Their mission was to demolish a railroad tunnel between La Spezia and Genoa. Two days later, the group was captured by a party of Italian Fascista soldiers and members of the German Wehrmarcht. They were taken to La Spezia, where they were confined near the headquarters of the 135th Fortress Brigade, which was under the command of German Colonel Almers. The immediate, superior command was that of the 75th Army Corps, commanded by Dostler.

The captured U.S. soldiers were interrogated and one of the U.S. officers revealed the story of the mission. This information was then sent to Dostler at the 75th Army Corps. The following day (March 25), Dostler sent a telegram to the 135th Fortress Brigade ordering that the captured soldiers be executed. Officers at the 135th Fortress Brigade contacted Dostler in an attempt to achieve a stay. Dostler then sent another telegram ordering Almers to carry out the execution. Two last attempts were made by the officers at the 135th, including some by telephone. These efforts were unsuccessful and the fifteen Americans were executed on the morning of March 26, 1944. Alexander zu Dohna-Schlobitten, who refused to sign the execution order, was dismissed from Wehrmacht for insubordination.                                     

Trial, execution and notoriety....In the first Allied war trial, Dostler was accused of carrying out an illegal order, while Dostler maintained that he did not issue the order, but only passed along an order to Colonel Almers from supreme command. The trial found General Dostler guilty of war crimes.

He was sentenced to death and shot by a firing squad on December 1, 1945 in Aversa. The execution was photographed on black and whitestill and movie cameras.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dostler's body immediately after the execution                                                    

 

Added by bgill

The Berlin Trial

Trial of 16 staff members of Sachsenhausen camp

 

Commandant Anton Kaindl testifies at Soviet Military Tribunal

 

The Soviet Union Military Tribunal proceedings against Commandant Anton Kaindl and 15 others associated with the Sachsenhausen concentration camp began on October 23, 1947 in the Berlin Pankow city hall. This was the first time that the Soviets had allowed the press and the public to attend one of their Military Tribunal proceedings and this event soon became known in the press as "the Berlin trial."

Previously, the first concentration camp war criminals to be brought to justice were members of the campstaff of Bergen-Belsen who were prosecuted by a British Military Tribunal in November 1945. America soon followed with proceedings against the camp staff at Dachau in an American Military Tribunal held inside the Dachau camp complex, which began a few days later.

On August 8, 1945, three months after the surrender of Nazi Germany to the victorious Allies, the London Charter of the four occupying powers (Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the USA) established statutes and procedures for conducting an International Military Tribunal against the major German war criminals at Nuremberg. The London Charter defined War crimes, Crimes against Peace and Crimes against Humanity. A fourth war crime was membership in the SS and/or the Nazi Party. These were war crimes that, up to that time, had not been against existing International Law.

On December 20, 1945, the Allied Control Council for Germany passed Law No. 10 which contained a catalog of offenses that could be prosecuted as war crimes by the Allies. Each of the four occupying powers was permitted to hold its own individual Military Tribunals to try German war criminals who had committed crimes in their zone of occupation. The charges included only crimes committed against Allied nationals. Crimes against German nationals were prosecuted by German Courts.

The sixteen accused men in "the Berlin trial" were as follows:

Anton Kaindl, the last Commandant of Sachsenhausen

August Höhn and Michael Körner, camp leaders at Sachsenhausen

Kurt Eccarius, the director of the prison block inside the Sachsenhausen camp

Heinz Baumkötter, the first camp doctor at Sachsenhausen

Ludwig Rehn, the work mobilization leader at Sachsenhausen

Gustave Sorge, the record keeper at Sachsenhausen

Heinrich Fresemann, the director of the Klinkerwerk (brick factory), which later became a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen

Wilhelm Schubert, Martin Knittler, Fritz Ficker, Menne Saathoff, and Horst Hempel, the block leaders at Sachsenhausen

Paul Sakowski, a former prisoner who was the foreman of the crematorium and camp hangman from 1941 to 1943.

Karl Zander, a former prisoner who had worked in the crematorium at Sachsenhausen

Ernst Brennscheidt, a civilian who was the director of the shoe testing track at Sachsenhausen

All of the accused were charged with participating in the murder of Soviet Prisoners of War. Sachsenhausen was the main camp where Russian POWs, who were believed to be Communist Commissars, were brought for execution by firing squad, on the orders of Adolf Hitler himself. As in the British and American Military Tribunals, all of the defendants were charged with co-responsibility for everything that had happened in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp or in other words, with participation in a "common plan" to commit war crimes.

When the charges were read, each of the accused confessed to the war crimes charged against them. Following this, testimony was given by witnesses for the prosecution, including former Soviet, Polish, and Czech prisoners, as well as German Jehovah's Witnesses and Communists. Twenty witnesses had been summoned to appear in the courtroom, but only 17 of them were heard. The testimony of the scheduled witnesses was interrupted after one witness, Rudolf Wunderlich, deviated from the formal charges against the defendants in his remarks.

Neutral observers were permitted to witness the proceedings of the Soviet Military Tribunal in Berlin, the first time that the Soviets had allowed this. The following quote is from Information Leaflet No. 24, handed out at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site:

The observers were particularly impressed by how meticulously the military tribunal followed correct formal trial procedure and honored the rights of the defendants and their five Soviet defense counselors. The attorney from Moscow, S.K. Kasnatschejew, appeared as the defense lawyer for the main defendants Kaindl and Höhn. He had previously served as defense counsel in the second "Moscow trial" of 1937. He characterized his clients as mere executors of orders and accused the capitalistic industrialists, whose unimpaired power in the western zones was once again threatening world peace, of having given the orders. The accused expressed similar sentiments in their concluding words which were read out loud. Each confessed his guilt and deep remorse, accused the "Hitler system" and the "big business leaders" of being guilty and thanked the Soviet occupying powers for their "humane treatment" and "fair" trial.

On the second day of the proceedings, a film made in 1946 by the Soviets, entitled "Sachsenhausen Death Camp," was shown in the courtroom. Similar to the film made by the Americans at Dachau, the Sachsenhausen movie showed how poison gas was introduced into the gas chamber through large pipes with control wheels. The Sachsenhausen gas chamber was disguised as a shower room, just like the gas chamber at Dachau, and the pipes resembled water pipes going into a real shower room. Paul Sakowski was shown in the film, as he explained how the gas flowed through the pipes.

 

 

 

Paul Sakowski explains how gas entered the gas chamber through a pipe

 

Sakowski was a prisoner whose job was foreman of the crematorium at Sachsenhausen until 1943, when the gas chamber was built. The defendants were not charged with murdering Jews in the Sachsenhausen gas chamber, but rather with the gassing of Soviet Prisoners of War, since the Jews at Sachsenhausen had been transported to Poland, beginning in February 1942, before the gas chamber was built.

During the proceedings, the Soviet prosecutors charged that the defendants had been co-responsible for 100,000 deaths at Sachsenhausen, or half of the approximately 200,000 prisoners that the Soviets claimed had been incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen camp at some time during the years between 1936 and 1945.

This estimate of 100,000 deaths was based on the discovery of six suitcases filled with dentures at Sachsenhausen by the Soviet liberators. The filled suitcases were shown in the film "Sachsenhausen Death Camp" which was presented as evidence at the military tribunal.

 

 

 

Six suitcases filled with false teeth were found at Sachsenhausen

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California has estimated that the number of deaths at Sachsenhausen was approximately 30,000. This estimate is in line with the known number of inmate deaths at Dachau and Buchenwald. The camp records at Dachau and Buchenwald were made public by the American liberators, but no records from Sachsenhausen were ever presented by the Soviet Union, which was the liberator of Sachsenhausen.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that there were approximately 140,000 prisoners registered at Sachsenhausen. This did not include approximately 12,000 Soviet Prisoners of War who were brought there for execution.

According to Information Leaflet Number 7, which I obtained from the Memorial Site, there were 58,000 prisoners in the main Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg in January 1945, but by April 21st, when the camp was evacuated, there were only 33,000 prisoners left. The pamphlet does not explain what happened to the other 25,000 but other Nazi concentration camps in Germany, such as Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, were experiencing a typhus epidemic during the early months of 1945 which accounted for a very high death rate among the prisoners.

In the photograph below, the prisoners do not look as though they are starving. The X on the back of the coats of two of the prisoners was intended to mark them as prisoners in case they escaped. These were political prisoners who were allowed to wear civilian clothes, instead of striped uniforms.

 

 

 

Sachsenhausen prisoners eat in the mess hall of their barracks

 

 

 

 

Prisoners march past gate house in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1938

 

Much of the information about the Sachsenhausen camp, which is written in the history books, comes from the proceedings of the Soviet Military Tribunal. For example, Commandant Anton Kaindl confessed, on the witness stand, that when the Germans evacuated the Sachsenhausen camp on April 21, 1945, the plan for the prisoners was to drive them onto barges out to sea and let them sink.

Information Leaflet Number 7, which is available from the Memorial Site, casts doubt on Kaindl's confession because on April 19, 1945, the SS notified the Red Cross that the Sachsenhausen camp would be evacuated and requested food supplies for the march.

The following is an extract from the testimony of Anton Kaindl at the Military Tribunal:

Public Prosecutor: What kind of exterminations were committed in your camp?

Kaindl: Until mid 1943, prisoners were killed by shooting or hanging. For the mass exterminations, we used a special room in the infirmary. There was a height gauge and a table with an eye scope. There were also some SS wearing doctor uniforms. There was a hole at the back of the height gauge. While an SS was measuring the height of a prisoner, another one placed his gun in the hole and killed him by shooting in his neck. Behind the height gauge there was another room where we played music in order to cover the noise of the shooting.

Public Prosecutor: Do you know if there was already an extermination procedure in Sachsenhausen when you became commandant of the camp?

Kaindl: Yes, there were several procedures. With the special room in the infirmary, there was also an execution place where prisoners were killed by shooting, a mobile gallows and a mechanical gallows which was used for hanging three or four prisoners at the same time.

Public Prosecutor: Did you change anything in these extermination procedures?

Kaindl: In March 1943, I introduced gas chambers for the mass exterminations.

Public Prosecutor: Was it your own decision?

Kaindl: Partially yes. Because the existing installations were too small and not sufficient for the exterminations, I decided to have a meeting with some SS officers, including the SS Chief Doctor Baumkötter. During this meeting, he told me that poisoning of prisoners by prussic acid in special chambers would cause an immediate death. After this meeting, I decided to install gas chambers in the camp for mass extermination because it was a more efficient and more humane way to exterminate prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Who was responsible for the extermination?

Kaindl: The commandant of the camp.

Public Prosecutor: So, it was you?

Kaindl: Yes.

Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were exterminated in Sachsenhausen while you were commandant of the camp?

Kaindl: More than 42,000 prisoners were exterminated under my command; this number included 18,000 killed in the camp itself.

[The extermination site, where the gas chamber was located, known as Station Z, was in the Industry Yard outside the camp, while the infirmary barracks where Soviet Prisoners of War were shot in the neck was located inside the camp itself.]

Public Prosecutor: And how many prisoners died by starvation during this same period?

Kaindl: I think 8,000 prisoners died by starvation during this period.

Public Prosecutor: Accused Kaindl, did you receive the order to destroy any evidence of the murders committed in the camp?

Kaindl: Yes. On February 1st, 1945, I had a conversation with the chief of the Gestapo, Müller. He ordered me to destroy the camp with artillery bombing, aerial bombing or by spraying gas. But due to technical problems, this order coming directly from Himmler was impossible to fulfill.

Public Prosecutor: Suppose that there was no technical problem, would you have carried out this order?

Kaindl: Of course. But it was impossible. An artillery or an aerial bombing was impossible to hide from the local population. And spraying gas was too dangerous for the local population and the SS.

Public Prosecutor: What did you do then?

Kaindl: I had a meeting with Höhn and some other SS and I ordered them to exterminate all the ill prisoners, those who were unable to work and, the most important, all the political prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Was this order fulfilled?

Kaindl: Yes, partially. During the night of February 2nd, the first prisoners were killed. There were plus or minus 150 prisoners. Until end of March 1945, we succeeded in killing more than 5,000 prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Who was in charge of this operation?

Kaindl: Accused Höhn was in charge of this operation.

Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were in the camp at this time?

Kaindl: Approximately 45,000. On April 18th I was ordered to embark all the prisoners on barges and to conduct the barge on the Baltic sea where I had to sink it. But we had not enough time to find enough barges for so many prisoners because the Red Army was advancing too fast.

Public Prosecutor: What happened then?

Kaindl: I ordered the evacuation of all the prisoners able to walk, first in the direction of Wittstock, then to Lubeck where they had to embark on ships and sink.

Public Prosecutor: Did the prisoners received any care during this evacuation?

Kaindl: No. 7,000 prisoners received nothing because we had nothing to give them.

Public Prosecutor: Did these prisoners died by starvation during this Death March?

Kaindl: Yes.

From the beginning, all the concentration camps in the Nazi system were controlled by a central office in Berlin. The first Concentration Camp Inspector was Theodor Eicke, who had formerly been the Commandant at Dachau before he was promoted. In 1938, this office moved to a new building in Oranienburg called the "T-building," which has been preserved and now serves as the administrative office of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation, the organization which owns the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site.

The commandants of the individual concentration camps, such as Sachsenhausen, did not have the authority to build gas chambers on their own, nor to exterminate 42,000 prisoners without permission from the central office in Oranienburg. Commandant Kaindl would have needed authorization from the Oranienburg office just to punish a prisoner in the camp, but according to his testimony, it was his decision to build the gas chamber at Sachsenhausen, after all the Jews had been transported to camps in the East by October 1942.

Information Leaflet Number 7 gives some details about the events of February 1st, 1945. The following quote is from this pamphlet:

When the Red Army reached the Oder River, the camp commandant ordered on February 1, 1945, that preparations be made for the evacuation. In response, the prisoners who were considered to be particularly dangerous - mostly British and Soviet officers - and the prisoners who were selected as unfit to march, were murdered in the industry yard of the camp.

Information Leaflet Number 7 also tells about the events that happened on February 2nd, 1945. According to the pamphlet, on this date Jewish prisoners were murdered. The following quote is from the leaflet:

The SS used the evacuation of the Lieberose satellite camp as an opportunity for the mass murder of Jewish prisoners from Hungary and Poland. On February 2, 1945, they drove about 1,500 prisoners from Lieberose through Zossen, Potsdam and Falkensee, towards Oranienburg. Having already shot at least 36 prisoners during the march, the SS murdered a larger group of prisoners immediately following their arrival in the main camp. At the same time, during a three-day shooting action, the SS guards in Lieberose camp murdered about 1,000 sick and weak prisoners who had remained back at the camp.

After only 8 days of proceedings, late in the evening of October 31, 1947, the verdicts were announced. The former Commandant of the camp, Anton Kaindl, and the 12 members of his staff were all sentenced to life in prison. (The penal laws of the Soviet Union had eliminated the death penalty on May 26, 1947, but it was introduced again on January 12, 1950.)

The Nazi concentration camp system had been designated, by the Allies, as a criminal enteprise, which meant that every person connected to a concentration camp, including civilians and prisoners who helped control the prisoners, was a war criminal. In all the Military Tribunals conducted by the Allies, someone who represented each job category in the camps was included in order to show that there was a common design to commit war crimes in the camps.

Paul Sakowski, the former camp inmate who was the foreman of the crematorium and operator of the gas chamber, was one of the 12 men that were sentenced to life in prison.

Ernst Brennscheidt, a civilian who had nothing to do with the camp administration, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Karl Zander, a former camp inmate who had been assigned to work in the crematorium, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The convicted men were sent to the NKVD prison in Berlin-Schönhausen, where they were imprisoned for four weeks following the verdict. They were then taken to the Workuta camp complex on the Polar Sea where they were forced to work in the coal mines. Within five short months, by the Spring of 1948, Anton Kaindl and 5 of the 12 staff members were dead.

On January 14, 1956, the surviving SS men who had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison, were released and they returned to West Germany, then officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany. Paul Sakowski, who was not a member of the SS, stayed in East Germany where he served the remainder of his sentence which had been reduced to 15-years, in the Brandenburg Penitentiary, finally being released in 1972.

After their return to West Germany, most of the convicted war criminals from "the Berlin trial" were put on trial again in German courts for crimes against German nationals.

In two of the most important German trials, Gustav Sorge, the record keeper, and Wilhelm Schubert, a block leader who was in charge of one of the barracks at Sachsenhausen, were put on trial on October 18, 1958 in a regional court at Bonn, a city in West Germany. On February 6, 1959, both were found guilty of murder, attempted murder, and complicity of murder and manslaughter.

August Höhn, Horst Hempel, Dr. Heinz Baumkötter and Kurt Eccarius were also put on trial again in West German courts and all were convicted again. Their sentences were reduced because of time already served, and some of the men were not sent to prison at all because, after their ordeal in the Soviet prison camp, they were not considered to be fit to withstand imprisonment again.

 

 

 

Photo of Dr. Heinz Baumkötter hangs in autopsy room in Pathology Dept.

 

On November 2, 1947, two days after the end of "the Berlin trial," an event was organized by the "Main Committee for Victims of Fascism" at which former inmates of Sachsenhausen and their families expressed their thanks to the Soviet occupation for liberating them from the Nazis and for bringing the Sachsenhausen staff to justice.

Based on testimony at "the Berlin trial," the Memorial Site Museum maintains that 100,000 prisoners were murdered at Sachsenhausen including some who were murdered in the gas chamber there. A sign in the Museum refers to the Sachsenhausen Death Camp.

Added by bgill

Traitors Were Shot, Hanged or Garrotted

12:01AM BST 27 Jun 2007

As the Nazis were coming to power and building their army, Franz Scheider, from Munich, was the last man they wanted to join their ranks.

A committed communist, he had been locked up in a camp before the war as a political enemy of the regime. When the war started, it was felt he could not be trusted, but as the conflict dragged on the German army needed every man it could get.

In 1943, aged 29, Mr Scheider was sent to Greece to serve in a unit of men, 60 per cent of whom were considered criminals like him.

"While he was there he saw the German units kill many civilians in the battle against Greek partisans," said Uli Baumann, the organiser of an exhibition about deserters. "He tried to help civilians by establishing links with the partisans."

Mr Scheider, who was the driver for his unit's commander and had access to secret military information, formed a team to tip off the partisans about German movements. But as the team, based near the Greek town of Amalias, sought to recruit new members in 1944, it was betrayed, and Mr Scheider and five others were brought before a court martial.

On June 4, 1944, the men were sentenced to death. Five days later they were shot.

"Afterwards, the partisans visited the grave and put up a sign 'Here lies a German hero'," said Mr Baumann.

Officially however, Mr Scheider remains anything but a hero. He is one of the few men still considered a traitor under German law.

Others like him include lance-corporals Hugo Ruf, Werner Spenn and Johann Lukaschitz. In 1943 they were fighting in an armoured unit which suffered heavy casualties near the Russian town of Kursk.

After drunkenly shooting at a portrait of Hitler, and distributing leaflets calling for a retreat from Russia, they too were sentenced to death.

On Feb 11, 1944, they were executed in the central German city of Halle. "They were hanged or garrotted," said Mr Baumann. "It was considered much less honourable than being shot."

Germany to pardon last troops Hitler executed

By Harry de Quetteville

12:01AM BST 27 Jun 2007

Germany is poised to pardon the very last soldiers who were executed during the Second World War for betraying the Nazi regime.

But the move, which follows a decades-long national debate, has revived bitter differences of opinion over what remains an acutely sensitive subject.

The handful of men were among 30,000 German soldiers who were sentenced to death during the war for a variety of "crimes" from desertion to espionage.

Of those, 16,000 were hanged, shot, garrotted or guillotined by a regime determined to crush the merest hint of insurrection in the ranks.

  • While the vast majority, including deserters, were pardoned under a 2002 law, a few dozen remain with their posthumous reputations tarred.

Now the German parliament is debating a bill to rehabilitate them too, after the justice ministry examined a report by an historian investigating 70 cases of unpardoned "traitors".

The men were mostly described as Kriegsverrat - traitors in wartime - one of four categories of crime that have so far proved too sensitive for modern day German politicians to excuse.

The others include the mistreatment of men by an officer, and looting of corpses.

"A small group remains convicted," said Wolfram Wette, an historian at the University of Freiburg.

"In a typical case they were charged with taking information to the enemy which was used directly against German troops.

"This is one of the last questions of justice left over from the Nazi era," he added.

According to Prof Wette, "anyone who considers resistance to the criminal Nazi regime cannot exclude these 'traitors' from rehabilitation". But the issue of pardoning Second World War soldiers has long proved controversial in Germany.

"There was a long debate about whether to rehabilitate deserters before 2002," said Magnus Koch, who has organised a new exhibition on Nazi military justice in Berlin. "Now the same arguments are being fought over 'traitors' .'' Many conservatives believed that pardoning a deserter effectively says that those who stayed at their posts did the wrong thing.

"That is offensive to many of the tens of thousands of surviving veterans," said Mr Koch. Norbert Geis, a conservative politician, criticised the latest move, saying that "those who committed this betrayal often endangered their comrades in a criminal way".

Despite such opposition, the parliamentary bill, which had its first reading last month, seems sure to be passed into law. "It should be settled at the end of the year," said Prof Wette.

Ludwig Baumann, 86, founded the Association of Victims of Nazi Military Justice in 1990. He was sentenced to death after fleeing what he called "a criminal, genocidal war" in France in 1942. His sentence was commuted to 12 years in jail.

"Had there been more of such war 'traitors'," he said recently, "the Second World War would have been over faster, and thousands of lives would have been saved."

 

Added by bgill

Dieter Wisliceny

Dieter Wisliceny 

(13 January 1911 in Regulowken, now Mo?d?anyGi?ycko County – 4 May 1948 in Bratislava) was a member of the NaziSS, and a key executioner in the final phase of the Holocaust.

Wisliceny studied theology without obtaining a degree. Joining the Nazi Party in 1933, and enlisting in the SS in 1934, Wisliceny eventually rose to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in 1944. During implementation of the Final Solution, his task was the ghettoization and liquidation of several important Jewish communities in Nazi-occupied Europe, including those of GreeceHungary and Slovakia. Wisliceny also re-introduced the yellow star in occupied countries, the yellow star being used to distinguish Jews from non-Jews.

Wisliceny was an important witness at the Nuremberg trials, and his testimony would later prove important in the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann for war crimes in Israel in 1961. Wisliceny was extradited to Czechoslovakia, where he was tried and hanged for his crimes in 1948.

His younger brother was Sturmbannführer (Major) and Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords recipient Günther-Eberhardt Wisliceny.

COPY OF AFFIDAVIT C

[Affidavit of Dieter Wisliceny]

Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume VIII. USGPO, Washington, 1946/pp.606-619.

[This affidavit is substantially the same as the testimony given by Wisliceny on direct examination before the International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, 3 January 1946.]

I, Dieter Wisliceny, being duly sworn, declare:

1. I am 34 years old and have been a member of the NSDAP since 1933 and a member of the SS since July 1934. I have been Hauptsturmfuehrer SS since 1940. From 1934 to 1937, I was assigned in Berlin and from 1937 to 1940 in Danzig. From 1940 to September 1944, I was assigned as specialist on Jewish matters in Slovakia and my mission included service in Hungary and Greece. I have known Adolph Eichmann, the former Chief of AMT IV A 4 of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) well since 1934 in which year we joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). Our relationship was so close that we addressed each other with the intimate" Du". We served together from 1934 to 1937 in Berlin and maintained friendly relations from 1937 until 1940 when he was in Vienna and I was in Danzig. Eichmann's mission in Vienna was to direct the Central Office for Jewish Emigration and he later came to Berlin with the RSHA to take charge of AMT IV A 4 which was responsible for the solution of the Jewish question and for all church matters. At Eichmann's suggestion, I accepted an assignment as expert for AMT IV A 4 in Slovakia dealing solely with the Jewish question.

2. There were three distinct periods of activity affecting the Jews. The first period covered the time from 1937 when the Jewish Section was founded till 1940, during which the policy was to accelerate and compel Jewish emigration from Germany and Austria. Because of this, the Central Office for Jewish Emigration was founded in Vienna and later on a corresponding institution in Prague. After the victory over France, Madagascar was contemplated, but never used, as a site for the emigration. The second period during 1940 and 1941 covered the concentration of Jews in Poland and eastern territories, in Ghettos and concentration camps. The last period, from beginning 1942 to October 1944, covered the evacuation of Jews from all Germany and German controlled territories to concentration camps and their biological annihilation.

3. I first became interested in the number of Jews effected by measures taken through the RSHA when I met other specialists on Jewish matters in Eichmann's office in Berlin. It was customary for Eichmann to call the specialists in for a meeting at least once a year, usually in November. Meetings were hold in 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943. I was present at all but the latter meeting. In these meetings each representative reported on conditions in his territory and Eichmann discussed the over-all picture. He particularly stressed total figures and the use of charts which included the number of Jews in different countries, their occupations, their age groups, and statements showing the portion of Jews to the total population of each country. These charts did not include the number of persons effected by evacuation and extermination activities since these figures were kept secret. However, from many discussions with Eichmann and specialists on the Jewish question, I learned the effects of the program of final solution in each of the countries concerned.

4. I was sent to Berlin in July or August 1942 in connection with the status of Jews from Slovakia, which mission is referred to more fully hereinafter. I was talking to Eichmann in his office in Berlin when he said that on written order of Himmler all Jews were to be exterminated. I requested to be shown the order. He took a file from the safe and showed me a top secret document with a red border, indicating immediate action. It was addressed jointly to the Chief of the Security Police and SD and to the Inspector of Concentration Camps. The letter read substantially as follows :

"The Fuehrer has decided that the final solution of the Jewish question is to start immediately. I designate the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the Inspector of Concentration Camps as responsible for the execution of this order. The particulars of the program are to be agreed upon by the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the Inspector of Concentration Camps. I am to be informed currently as to the execution of this order".

The order was signed by Himmler and was dated some time in April 1942. Eichmann told me that the words "final solution" meant the biological extermination of the Jewish race, but that for the time being able-bodied Jews were to be spared and employed in industry to meet current requirements. I was so much impressed with this document which gave Eichmann authority to kill millions of people that I said at the time : "May God forbid that our enemies should ever do anything similar to the German people". He replied : "Don't be sentimental-this is a Fuehrer order". I realized at that time. that the order was a death warrant for millions of people and that the power to execute this order was in Eichmann's hands subject to approval of Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner. The program of extermination was already under way and continued until late 1944. There was no change in the program during Kaltenbrunner's administration.

5. After my meeting with Eichmann in July or August 1942, when I first learned of the Hitler order for final solution of the Jewish question by extermination, I became particularly interested in the number of persons effected and at every opportunity made notes on the basis of information from other countries. In 1943, my interest was further accentuated by requests for information from the Joint Distribution Committee and I thereafter took particular pains to collect all information available as to the number of Jews effected in other countries. In Budapest 1944 I conferred with Dr. Rudolf Kastner, representative of the Joint Distribution Committee, and compared with him information on numerous occasions particularly dealing with the total number of Jews effected. I was constantly in touch with Dr. Kastner after May 1944. I last saw him on 30 March 1945, in my apartment in Vienna.

6. On numerous occasions Eichmann told me that Jews had no value as except as laborers and that only 20-25 percent were able to work I was present in Budapest in June or July 1944 at a meeting between Eichmann and Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, at which they talked specifically about the  percentage of Hungarian Jews that would be strong enough for labor. On the basis of transports previously received at Auschwitz and the supply of Jews inspected by him in collection centers, Hoess stated that only 20 or at the most 25 percent of these Hungarian Jews could be used for labor. Hoess said that this percentage also pertained to all Jews transported to Auschwitz from all over German occupied Europe, with the exception of Greek Jews who were of such poor quality that Eichmann and Hoess said that all Jews unfit for labor were liquidated. Among the able-bodied were women and some children over the age of 12 or 13 years.  Both Eichmann and Hoess said that all Jews unfit for labor were liquidated.

7All exterminations of Jews took place in closed camps. The camps at Auschwitz and Maidenek were referred to as extermination camps "A" and "M" respectively. I know that Jews at Auschwitz and other extermination camps were killed with gas, starting at least as early as the spring of 1942. Eichmann said that in the cases of groups from which the able-bodied had already been selected, the remainder were gassed immediately upon their arrival at the concentration camps. In cases, where there was no prior selection, the screening had to take place at the concentration camps before the unfit were gassed. The inspections at concentration camps to determine who was considered able-bodied and who was to be executed were very superficial.

8. Late in 1944, Himmler directed that all executions of Jews were to cease, but Eichmann did not carry out this order until he received a written directive signed by Himmler. Unaccountable thousands of Jews who had been sent to concentration camps died of epidemics and undernourishment, such as in the camps at Flossenbrueck and Sachsenhausen.

9. In appendix A-l, I have prepared a chart of the organization of RSHA in 1944 to show the relative position of AMT IV A 4 and its subsections. In the same exhibit, I have listed the experts on the Jewish problem who served in a capacity similar to my own in other countries. Their names and assignments were:

Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Seidl (Theresienstadt) 
Hauptsturmfuehrer Wisliceny (Slovakia) 
Hauptsturmfuehrer Abromeit (Croatia) 
Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker (Bulgaria) 
Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner (France) 
Obersturmbannfuehrer Krumey (Lodz-later Vienna) 
Hauptsturmfuehrer Burger (Theresienstadt-later Athens)

I have also shown members of the staff in Eichmann's office that includes Hauptsturmfuehrer Franz Novak who had charge of all transportation matters concerning all evacuations of Jews and Untersturmfuehrer Hartenberger who was a specialist on individual cases. To my personal knowledge, based on my observations during several years service in the Balkan countries and close association with leaders in these countries who were responsible for actions taken against the Jews, the number of Jews effected were approximately: 66,000 in Slovakia ; 60,000 in Greece ; 8,000 in Bulgaria ; 3,000 in Croatia and 500,000 in Hungary. In Appendix A-III I have set forth details as to their disposition.

10. I consider Eichmann's character and personality important factors in carrying out measures against the Jews. He was personally a cowardly man who went to great pains to protect himself from responsibility. He never made a move without approval from higher authority and was extremely careful to keep files and records establishing the responsibility of Himmler, Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner. I have examined many of the files in his office and knew his secretary very well and I was particularly impressed with the exactness with which he maintained files and records dealing with all matters in his department. Every move taken by Eichmann in executing measures against the Jews was submitted to Heydrich and later to Kaltenbrunner for approval. I have seen signed duplicate copies of Eichmann's reports to Himmler. These all went through the Chief of RSHA, Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner, who signed them. Signed duplicate copies of these reports bearing the name of Kaltenbrunner were filed by Eichmann. The regular channel was from Eichmann through Mueller to Kaltenbrunner and to Himmler. Eichmann was very cynical in his attitude toward the Jewish question. He gave no indication of any human feeling toward these people. He was not immoral, he was amoral and completely ice-cold in his attitude. He said to me on the occasion of our last meeting in February 1945, at which time we were discussing our fates upon losing the war: "I laugh when I jump into the grave because of the feeling that I have killed 5,000,000 Jews. That gives me great satisfaction and gratification."

11. According to Eichmann, he knew Kaltenbrunner from Linz and they had been good friends for many years. They were both members of the illegal Nazi Party in Austria and were together in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. I know that their good relations continued to at least February 1945. Eichmann told me more than once that whenever he had any difficulties he took them up with Kaltenbrunner. When Kaltenbrunner was appointed as Chief of the RSHA, Eichmann told me that his standing would be improved in the department because of his close connections with Kaltenbrunner. Their friendship appeared to be very strong because I myself, in February 1945 witnessed a short meeting between Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann. They met in the vestibule of the office house of Eichmann, Kurfuersten Str. 116, Kaltenbrunner greeted Eichmann heartily and asked about the health of Eichmann's father and family in Linz.

12. My mission in Slovakia was to advise the Slovak government on all Jewish questions, I was instructed to establish good relations with the Slovak government and consider my work as a diplomatic mission. I was assigned for administrative purposes to the German Legation at Bratislava and reported to Minister von Killinger, later to Minister Ludin. Copies of these reports were sent to Eichmann to whom I regularly sent confidential SD reports.

13. In 1941 when I visited the concentration area Sosnowitz where approximately 100,000 Jews were used as slavelabor. in large factories making uniforms and furniture, I was accompanied by a Slovak mission which was interested in establishing similar concentration labor projects in Slovakia. We found conditions not favorable but bearable. Thereafter two concentration work areas were established in Slovakia at Sered and Novaky where about 4,000 Jews, who had been removed from their individual shops and business and were forced to labor in factories and joiner's workshops. These work centers continued to operate until the insurrection in September 1944.

14. In March and April 1942, 17,000 specially selected Jews were sent to Lubin and Auschwitz, Poland, as construction workers and in May and June 1942, approximately 35,000 members of their families were sent to Auschwitz, at the request of the Slovak government since no provision had been made to support these families. At the request of the Slovak government, I went to Berlin in late July or August 1942, to obtain permission for a Slovak commission to visit these Jews in the area of Lublin. Eichmann speaking of the 35,000 in the second group, told me that such a mission would be, impossible and that "The Slovaks won't be able to see their Jews any more because they are no longer alive".

15. In September 1944, there remained about 25,000 Jews in SIovakia. Some of these joined in the insurrection at that time. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner who had been sent to Slovakia from Paris in August 1944 pursuant to Eichmann's order, had all Jews that could be found arrested and sent to Sered. They were thereafter transported to Auschwitz and executed. I know of no survivors from this evacuation of Jews from Slovakia, although many escaped who had hidden during the rounding up in October 1944.

16. In January 1943, I was ordered by Eichmann to go to Salonika and make arrangements with the military administration to find a final solution for the Jewish problem there. Shortly before my departure from Bratislava I was told to meet Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner in Vienna. He showed me a "Marsch" order and told me that he had been given the assignment by Eichmann to arrange all technical matters and that I was to make contacts with the authorities and governmental agencies. We went to Salonika together on 2 February 1944, and conferred with the Chief of the Military Administration, War Administrative Counsellor Dr. Merten from the military command, Area Salonika-Aegeus. Also, the local branch office of the Secret Police and SD, the Criminal Commissioner Paschleben and Consul General Schoenberg. Dr. Merten was the decisive authority and said he wished the Jews in Salonika first be concentrated in certain areas of the city. This was done without difficulty during February-March 1943. At least 80 percent of the Greek Jews were workers, laborers, craftsmen or longshoremen, but a large proportion of them had tuberculosis and had also suffered of epidemics raging in their quarters. The Salonika Jews had lived in Greece since the 15th century when they had fled from the inquisition in Spain. On or about 10 March, Eichmann sent Brunner a message that the compulsory evacuation (Aussiedlung) of Jews was to start at once. Dr. Merten agreed to the action but requested 3,000 male Jewish workers for railroad construction work under the Organization Todt who were later returned in time for inclusion in the last transports. I talked to Eichmann by telephone in Berlin telling him that typhus raged among the Jews but he said his orders for immediate compulsory evacuation would stand.

17. Some few foreign Jews were returned to their home country and about 700 Jews of Spanish nationality were transported in August 1943 to Bergen-Belsen and in December to Spain. These Jews had obtained their Spanish nationality during the last century while Greece was still under Turkish rule.

18. Altogether, 60,000 Jews were collected from Greece and shipped to Auschwitz. I am sure that this figure is approximately correct. I know that twenty-four transports averaging approximately 2,300 human beings each were shipped from Salonika and surroundings between March and May 1943, under the supervision of Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner and myself, while two transports of about 2,500 each were shipped from Athens in July 1944 under the supervision of Hauptsturmfuehrer Burger. The freight cars used in these transports were furnished by the Military Transport Command. The requests for these cars went from Hauptsturmfuehrer Novak in IV A 4 b to Department Counsellor Stange in the Ministry of Transport, Berlin and thence through channels to the area transport command. Transports used in effecting the final solution of the Jewish problem commanded a sufficiently high priority to take precedence over other freight movements. All shipments were made on schedule, even in July 1944 when the Germans were evacuating Greece and rail transport needs were critical. Upon the departure of each transport a message was sent to Eichmann in Berlin stating the number of heads sent. I have seen copies of these cables in a folder kept by Brunner and upon completion of the movement of Jews from Northern Greece, Brunner made a summary report to Eichmann. I returned to Bratislava for several weeks and arrived again in Salonika at the end of May 1943 at which time Brunner was preparing the last shipment. The last transport left Salonika two days after my arrival and upon completion of the last shipment, Brunner was transferred to Paris for his new assignment.

19. During the period of collection into designated areas, the Jewish population was compelled to furnish their own subsistence. Upon arrival in the collecting camp, representatives of the Jewish community took over all cash and valuables from the inmates. Altogether, by August 1943, 280,000,000 drachmas had been deposited in the Greek National Bank for such purpose. This amount was appropriated by the German Military Administration. The property left behind, houses, businesses, apartments, movable belongings, etc., were administered by the Greek Governor General of Macedonia under the control of the Military administration.

20. In July 1944, Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, told Eichmann in my presence in Budapest that all of the Greek Jews had been exterminated because of their poor quality.

21. In connection with the movement of the German Army into Hungary in March 1944, it was agreed between Hitler and Horthy that the Army should not enter Budapest. No mention was made of the Security Police, however, and an Einsatz Group of about 800 members was secretly organized, under the leadership of Standartenfuehrer, later Oberfuehrer Dr. Geschke. The rank and file of the Einsatz Group consisted of members of the Security Police from all over Germany and occupied Europe, in addition about sixty men from the Waffen SS. Shortly after arrival in Budapest, a further battalion of Waffen SS was assigned to the Einsatz Group for guard purposes. Most of the experts on final solution of the Jewish question in IV A 4 b were organized under the designation "Special Action Commando Eichmann". This Special Commando was directly subordinated to the Chief of the Security Police and SD, Kaltenbrunner. Both the Einsatz Group and the Special Commando were first activated about 10 March 1944. The personnel were assembled at Mauthausen in Linz, Austria, and moved later into Hungary 19 March 1944. Matters of personnel for the Special Action Commandos were handled by Geschke, while all operations were directed by Eichmann personally. The Army had informed higher SS and Police Leader Winckelman as representative of Himmler, and Oberfuehrer Piffrader and Dr. Geschke as representatives of RSHA, of the place and hour of the invasion of Hungary. I had advance knowledge of the action that was to be undertaken although it was kept secret from the rank and file of the group. I had seen Eichmann studying maps of Hungary in advance of the movement. We marched into Budapest on 19 March 1944 ahead of the Army and Eichmann arrived there on 21 March. 22. During the first days after arrival in Budapest, Eichmann, Hunsche and I conferred with Endre and von Baky who were Administrative State, Secretary and Political State Secretary respectively of the Ministry of Interior for Hungary. Actions against Jews, were discussed in the smallest detail. It was the purpose to start, evacuation of Jews as soon as possi1e. In late March 1944, about 200 Jews prominent in the economical and cultural life of Hungary were taken as hostages on orders of Geschke. Thereafter in accordance with. the agreement between Endre and Eichmann, Jews were concentrated in designated larger cities and towns in Karpato-Russia and Siebenbuergen (Transylvania), such actions being undertaken by the Hungarian Gendarmerie under Lt. Colonel Ferenzcy who had the same relative position for the Hungarian Ministry of Interior as, K had for Special Action Commando Eichmann in the carrying out of these actions. Eichmann's delegates were sent to each of the larger collecting points.

23. While detailed preparations were being made and actions taken to prepare all Hungarian Jews for evacuation, Dr. Rudolph Kastner of the Joint Distribution Committee gave me 3,000,000 pengoe for Eichmann to induce him to grant a first interview on the Jewish question. This money was carefully counted and taken over by Geschke's treasurer. About 8 or 10 April, a meeting was arranged at the Hotel Majestic in Eichmann's office between Dr. Kastner, Mr. Brand another representative of: the Cornmittee, and Eichmann. There followed a series of conversations in which Eichmann was implored to leave Hungarian Jews aIone upon an offer to pay any amount to stop further action. Eichmann reported the situation to Himmler who sent Standartenfuehrer Becher to continue negotiations in Budapest. Demand was made by Becher for payment in trucks and raw materials with the condition. that they would. not be used against England or America. I was later informed that this proposal was turned down by the Allied countries because there was no assurance that they would not be used against the U. S. S. R. As Eichmann had predicted and wished, the negotiations failed and although Dr. Kastner fought bitterly to obtain some concessions, the planned actions went ahead.

24. I think it quite important to describe the attitude of the Hungarian Government. According to Ferenzcy, the Hungarian Government at first agreed only to concentrate the Jews in certain collecting points. Conditions created by the massing of hundreds of thousands of people in narrow camps were unbearable. The inmates could not be fed or taken care of. Ferenzcy went to Budapest about 20 April 1944, and reported to Endre and von Baky that either the Jews would have to be returned to their homes or removed to other areas. This was Eichmann's hoped for moment. He declared that he would be ready to take over these Jews if the Hungarian government would make a special request. It happened as follows: Ferenczy arrived in Budapest in the morning, reported to von Baky who sent him to Eichmann. Ferenzcy saw Eichmann around noon and received Eichmann's request. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the Hungarian government had made the demanded request. Eichmann arranged at once in Vienna conference of transport experts for the arrangement of the time table of the evacuation. In this conference, Novak, for the Hungarians Captain Lulay, Ferenzcy's Adjutant, participated and in addition, representatives from the Reich Ministry of Transport were present. I saw copies of the cables which were sent regarding all these matters from Eichmann to the Chief of the Security Police and SD, Kaltenbrunner, reporting the developments; furthermore, a cable to Eichmann's deputy, Sturmbannfuehrer Rolf Guenther requesting him to immediately inform the Inspector of concentration camps, Brigadefuehrer Glicks of the arrival of the Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz and ask him to make all necessary preparations for their reception.

25. The evacuation of Jews from Hungary took place in four stages. First, Karpato-Russia and Northern Transylvania from which area approximately 320,000 were evacuated. The second stage was in Northern Hungary including parts ceded by Slovakia. There were about 42,000 evacuated from this area. The third stage covered Southern Hungary. including Szeged from which 46,000 were evacuated. The fourth stage covered, Western Hungary and removed about 40,000 Jews. Action in this area started at the end of the first stage and continued during the second in Northern Hungary. A special action took place in Batschka involving about 10,000. The aggregate number in these four stages was approximately 468,000. Only the city of Budapest remained outside the scope of the evacuations. Eichmann and his fellow conspirators, Endre and von Baky, made repeated attempts to carry through actions in Budapest but were prevented by the intervention of Horthy who, through the intermediary of Dr. Kastner and I, was informed of the planned actions.

26. Negotiations between the Joint Distribution Committee and Himmler's representative, Becher, continued during all this time. Fearing that some kind of an agreement would eventually be achieved, Eichmann decided to send about 9,000 Hungarian Jews to Vienna, he called them "Joint Jews" so they could be shown to representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee. It was Krumey who sold the idea to Eichmsnn. In this connection, Eichmann together with Becher visited Himmler in July. In August 1944, 3,000 additional "Joint Jews" were sent to Bergen-Belsen from where, in December, they were sent to Switzerland.

27. In November and December 1944, about 30,000 Jews were evacuated from Budapest to Austria. A small number were forwarded to the concentration camps of Flossenbrueck and Sachsenhausen. The evacuation of these 30,000 took place under terrible conditions. The group consisted mostly of women and some Jewish units from the Hungarian labor' service, and they were forced to walk about 180 kilometers in rain and snow and without food to the Austrian border. There Abromeit and I were charged with receiving the group and further transporting them to the labor camps. The group arrived in a state of complete exhaustion and I was told by the Hungarian guards that a considerable number had died of exhaustion and starvation during the march. I first refused but was later compelled to take over the transport from the Hungarians when this protest was reported by the Hungarians to Eichmann. From that moment on, Eichmann com-pletely lost his confidence in me, a confidence which had already earlier been shaken. My participation in the Hungarian actions ended.

28. I am not personally informed as to the affects of measures taken in Germany or other occupied countries although I have heard many discussions by Eichmann and the Jewish Specialists from RSHA on such areas concerning the numbers involved. Neither am I informed as to the results of operations by Einsatz Groups in Poland and Russia but I know that Einsatz Groups operating in the East were designated "A " through at least "H". I talked to members of Einsatz Group "H" late in 1944 in Hungary, who had operated in the area around the Black Sea. On the basis of the information I have received, some of which came direct from Eichmann, there were hundreds of thousands of Jews exterminated by these Einsatz Groups.

29. In November 1942, in Eichmann's office in Berlin, I met Standartenfuehrer Plobel, who was leader of Kommando 1005, which was specially assigned to remove all traces of the final solution (extermination) of the Jewish problem by Einsatz Groups and all other executions. Kommando 1005 operated from at least autumn 1942 to September 1944 and was all this period subordinated to Eichmann. The mission was constituted after it first became apparent that Germany would not be able to hold all the territory occupied in the East and it was considered necessary to remove all traces of the criminal executions that had been committed. While in Berlin in November 1942, Plobel gave a lecture before Eichmann's staff of specialists on the Jewish question from the occupied territories. He spoke of the special incinerators he had personally constructed for use in the work of Kommando 1005. It was their particular assignment to open the graves and remove and cremate the bodies of persons who had been previously executed. Kommando 1005 operated in Russia, Poland and through the Baltic area. I again saw Plobel in Hungary in 1944 and he stated to Eichmann in my presence that the mission of Kommando 1005 had been completed..

30. After being dismissed by Eichmann from further participation in the final solution of the Jewish question in Hungary, I paid a visit to Slovakia on personal business and reported to Berlin end of January 1945. I had a short formal interview with Eichmann who then took me to Mueller for reassignment outside of IV A 4 b. Mueller assigned me to IV B 2 c which handled Slovakian matters other than Jewish questions. On 28 January, I reported in Trebnitz outside Berlin where the subsection had evacuated because of heavy air raids in Berlin. While at Trebnitz I was given the assignment of studying papers in connection with the Slovakian insurrection August-December 1944. My interest was drawn to the files containing the interrogation reports of the captured members of the American and British military mission in Slovakia. These files were given to me by Sturmbannfuehrer Schoeneseiffen who had been in charge of the interrogations of the prisoners at Mauthausen concentration camp. I ascertained the following facts. Members of the two missions were landed in Banska Bystrica by airplanes from Bari, Italy. Their mission was to contact Allied pilots who had been compelled to land in Slovakia, and help effectuate their escape to Italy. They had succeeded in this task in many cases. Another task was to contact the leaders of the insurrection Army, the socalled Czechoslovakian Army of insurrection" especially Generals Viest and Golian , obtain information of their demands for equipment and other supplies and transmit these demands to the Allies', in Bari and  in London.

31. After the collapse of the insurrection, the members of the mission fled to the mountains in Lower Tatra where they were finally captured at the end of November or the beginning of 'December by squads from the Commander of Security Police and SD at Bratislava, Witiska. The prisoners were brought to Bratislava where they were subjected to preliminary interrogations and reports were sent to RSHA and thence to Himmler. The files showed a large number of communications back and forth between Witiska and the RSHA. Himmler finally, by the middle of December, ordered the prisoners brought to Mauthausen concentration camp for thorough interrogation. Schoeneseiffen was detailed to prepare the questionnaires pertaining to the American and English Foreign Intelligence Service. He had the cooperation in this work of the AMTs interested in these matters and then proceeded to Mauthausen accompanied by a staff of interpreters. The result of his interrogations were contained in the files in the form of extensive individual reports. These reports were signed by the interrogator, the interpreter and the witness. The copies of summaries of the interrogations which were sent to Himmler carried Kaltenbrunner's initials. I limited my examination to the matters in which I was interested but I do remember that the name of the Chief of the American mission was Captain Brown, another member of this Mission was Lieut. Mican. The Chief of the British mission was Captain Sehmer, a man of German extraction, and another member was Rice whose family name had been something like Hochfelder, an Austrian Jew who had emigrated from Vienna in 1938. There were no signs in the report that the interrogations had been conducted by pressure methods except in the report signed by one of the American officers, I believe Brown, had, and I distinctly remember it, signed in English above his signature "Given under duress and protest". I know that pressure methods were used in special cases upon special permission from above. The files I examined contained no such orders but certain papers had been. extracted by Schoeneseiffen and retained in his personal custody. The last paper in the file was a request from OKW to have the captured Allied prisoners transferred to regular PW camps. However, I learned from Sturmbannfuehrer Thomsen IV B 2 that the prisoners had been shot on order of Hitler as retaliation for alleged shooting of German officers in Paris.

32. On the first of February, the camp in Trebnitz was evacuated because of the approaching Russians. Mueller returned me to Eichmann. In late February I talked to Eichmann and he made the statement which I have referred to above in paragraph 10. Eichmann proposed to Runsche and myself that he was going to have Theresienstadt destroyed together with all the Jewish inmates. We prevailed upon him to abandon such a plan. At this meeting, Eichmann also said that if matters came to the worst, he would return to Prague and shoot his family and himself. I did not see Eichmann again.

I understand written English and have made the foregoing statements and attached Appendix A-I and II voluntarily and under oath. [signed] DIETER WISLICENY

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 29th day of November 1946 at Nurnberg, Germany. 
[signed] SMITH W. BROOKHART, JR. Lt. Col. IGD

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