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Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp (known from the summer of 1940 as Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp) grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of the city of Linz.
Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the Mauthausen-Gusen had become one of the largest labour camp complexes in German-controlled Europe. Apart from the four main sub-camps at Mauthausen and nearby Gusen, more than 50 sub-camps, located throughout Austria and southern Germany, used the inmates as slave labour. Several subordinate camps of the KZ Mauthausen complex included quarries, munitions factories, mines, arms factories and Me 262 fighter-plane assembly plants.
In January 1945, the camps, directed from the central office in Mauthausen, contained roughly 85,000 inmates. The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex. The camps formed one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and were the last ones to be liberated by the Allies. The two main camps, Mauthausen and Gusen I, were also the only two camps in the whole of Europe to be labelled as "Grade III" camps, which meant that they were intended to be the toughest camps for the "Incorrigible Political Enemies of the Reich". Unlike many other concentration camps, intended for all categories of prisoners, Mauthausen was mostly used forextermination through labour of the intelligentsia, who were educated people and members of the higher social classes in countries subjugated by the Nazi regime during World War II
KZ Mauthausen Franz Ziereis, Commandant of Mauthausen, 1939-1945
On 7 August 1938 prisoners from Dachau concentration camp were sent to the town of Mauthausen near Linz,Austria, to begin the construction of a new camp. The site was chosen as a site for a slave labour camp because of the nearby granite quarry, and due to its proximity to Linz. Although the camp was, from the beginning of its existence, controlled by the German state, it was founded by a private company as an economic enterprise. The owner of the Wiener-Graben quarry (the Marbacher-Bruch and Bettelberg quarries), which was located in and around Mauthausen, was a DEST Company: an acronym for Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH. The company, led by Oswald Pohl, who was also a high-ranking official of the SS, rented the quarries from the City of Vienna and started the construction of the Mauthausen camp. While DEST rented the quarries at Mauthausen from the city of Vienna in 1938, the company bought its first lots of land at nearby Gusen already on 25 May 1938. A year later, the company ordered the construction of the first camp at Gusen. The granitemined in the quarries had previously been used to pave the streets of Vienna, but the Nazi authorities envisioned a complete reconstruction of major German towns in accordance with plans of Albert Speer and other architects of Nazi architecture, for which large quantities of granite were needed. The money needed for the construction of the Mauthausen camp was gathered from a variety of sources, including commercial loans from Dresdner Bank and Prague-based Escompte Bank, the so-called Reinhardt's fund (meaning money stolen from the inmates of the concentration camps themselves); and from the German Red Cross]
Mauthausen initially served as a strictly-run prison camp for common criminals, prostitutes and other categories of "Incorrigible Law Offenders". On 8 May 1939 it was converted to a labour camp which was mainly used for the incarceration of political prisoners.
KL Gusen Aerial view of the Gusen I & II camps DEST started to purchase a lot of land at Gusen in May 1938 in order to establish a twin concentration camp at Mauthausen and Gusen from the beginning, although construction of Concentration Camp Gusen was not started until autumn 1939. In the years 1938 and 1939, inmates of the nearby Mauthausen makeshift camp marched daily to the stone-quarries at Gusen which were more productive and more important for DEST than the Wienergraben Quarry. In late 1939, the not yet finished Mauthausen camp, with its Wiener-Graben granite quarry, was already overcrowded with prisoners since Germany started the war against Poland in September 1939. Their numbers rose from 1,080 in late 1938 to over 3,000 a year later. About that time the construction of a new camp "for the Poles" began in Gusen, about 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) away. The new camp (later named Gusen I) became operational in May 1940 while the Kastenhof- and Gusen-Quarries in the vicinity of that new concentration camp were operated with concentration camp inmates from Mauthausen before. The first inmates were put in the first two huts (No. 7 and 8) on 17 April 1940, while the first transport of prisoners - mostly from the camps in Dachau and Sachsenhausen - arrived on 25 May of the same year. The new camp at Gusen saved the inmates of Mauthausen the daily march between both locations.
Like nearby Mauthausen, the Gusen camp also used its inmates as slave labour in the granite quarries, but they also rented them out to various local businesses. In October 1941, several huts were separated from the Gusen sub-camp by barbed wire and turned into a separate Prisoner of War Labour Camp (German: Kriegsgefangenenarbeitslager). This camp had a large number of prisoners of warincarcerated, mostly Soviet officers. By 1942, the production capacity of both Mauthausen and Gusen had reached its peak. Gusen was expanded to include the central depot of the SS, where various goods, which had been seized from occupied territories, were sorted and then dispatched to Germany. Local quarries and businesses were in constant need of a new source of labour as more and more Austrians were drafted into the Wehrmacht.
In March 1944, the former SS depot was converted to a new sub-camp, and was named Gusen II. Until the end of the war the depot served as an improvised concentration camp. The camp contained about 12,000 to 17,000 inmates, who were deprived of even the most basic facilities. In December 1944, another part of Gusen was opened in nearby Lungitz. Here, parts of a factory infrastructure were converted into the third sub-camp of Gusen — Gusen III. The rise in the number of sub-camps could not catch up with the rising number of inmates, which led to overcrowding of the huts in all of the sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen. From late 1940 to 1944, the number of inmates per bed rose from 2 to 4.
Mauthausen-Gusen camp system Map showing location of some of the most notable sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen
As the production in all of the sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen complex was constantly rising, so was the number of detainees and the number of the sub-camps themselves. Although initially the camps of Gusen and Mauthausen mostly served the local quarries, from 1942, and onwards, they began to be included in the German war machine. To accommodate the ever-increasing number of slave workers, additional sub-camps (German: Außenlager) of Mauthausen began construction in all parts of Austria. At the end of the war the list included 101 camps (including 49 major sub-camps) which covered most of modern Austria, from Mittersill south ofSalzburg to Schwechat east of Vienna and from Passau on the pre-war Austro-German border to the Loibl Pass on the border with Yugoslavia. The sub-camps were divided into several categories, depending on their main function: Produktionslagerfor factory workers, Baulager for construction, Aufräumlager for cleaning the rubble in Allied-bombed towns, and Kleinlager (small camps) where the inmates were working specifically for the SS.
The production output of Mauthausen-Gusen exceeded that of each of the five other large slave labour centres, including: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Marburg andNatzweiler-Struthof, in terms of both production quota and profits. The list of companies using slave labour from the Mauthausen-Gusen camp system was long, and included both national corporations and small, local firms and communities. Some parts of the quarries were converted into a Mauser machine pistol assembly plant. In 1943, an underground factory for the Steyr-Daimler-Puch company was built in Gusen. Altogether, 45 larger companies took part in making KZ Mauthausen-Gusen one of the most profitable concentration camps of Nazi Germany, with more than 11,000,000 Reichsmark of the profits in 1944 alone (EUR 144 million as of 2011). Among them were:
Businesses profiting from slave workers of Mauthausen-Gusen
Prisoners were also 'rented out' as slave labour, and were exploited in various ways, such as working for local farms, for road construction, reinforcing and repairing the banks of the Danube, and the construction of large residential areas in Sankt Georgen as well as being forced to excavate archaeological sites in Spielberg.
"Bergkristall" Tunnel System at Gusen. Built to protect Me 262 production from air raids.
When the Allied strategic bombing campaign started to target the German war industry, German planners decided to move production to underground facilities that were impenetrable to enemy aerial bombardment. In Gusen I, the prisoners were ordered to build several large tunnels beneath the hills surrounding the camp (code-named Kellerbau). By the end of World War II the prisoners had dug 29,400 square metres (316,000 sq ft) to house a small arms factory. In January 1944, similar tunnels were also built beneath the village of Sankt Georgen by the inmates of Gusen II sub-camp (code-named Bergkristall). They dug roughly 50,000 square metres (540,000 sq ft) so the Messerschmitt company could build an assembly plant to produce theMesserschmitt Me 262 and V-2 rockets. In addition to planes, some 7,000 square metres (75,000 sq ft) of Gusen II tunnels served as factories for various war materials. In late 1944, roughly 11,000 of the Gusen I and II inmates were working in underground facilities. An additional 6,500 worked on expanding the underground network of tunnels and halls. In 1945, the Me 262 works was already finished and the Germans were able to assemble 1,250 planes a month. This was the second largest plane factory in Germany after the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, which was also underground.
The political function of the camp continued in parallel with its economic role. Until at least 1942, it was used for the imprisonment and murder of Germany's political and ideological enemies, both real and imagined. The camp served the needs of the German war machine and also carried outextermination through labour. When the inmates were totally exhausted after having worked in the quarries for 12 hours a day, or if they were too ill or too weak to work, they were then transferred to theRevier ("Krankenrevier", sick barrack) or other places for extermination. Initially, the camp did not have agas chamber of its own and the so-called Muselmänner, or prisoners who were too sick to work, after being maltreated, under-nourished or exhausted, were then transferred to other concentration camps for extermination (mostly to the infamous Hartheim Castle, which was 40.7 kilometres / 25.3 miles away), or killed by lethal injection and cremated in the local crematorium. The growing number of prisoners made the system too expensive and from 1940, Mauthausen was one of the few camps in the West to use a gas chamber on a regular basis. In the beginning, an improvised mobile gas chamber – a van with the exhaust pipe connected to the inside – shuttled between Mauthausen and Gusen. By December 1941, a permanent gas chamber that could kill about 120 prisoners at a time was completed.
Until early 1940, the largest group of inmates consisted of German, Austrian and Czechoslovak socialists, communists, anarchists, homosexuals, and people of Roma origin. Other groups of people to be persecuted solely on religious grounds were the Sectarians, as they were dubbed by the Nazi regime, meaning Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses. The reason for their imprisonment was their total rejection of giving the loyalty oath to Hitler and their absolute refusal to participate in any kind of military service.
Late 1944 – Early 1945 Gusen (I, II and III combined) 26,311 Ebensee 18,437 Gunskirchen 15,000 Melk 10,314 Linz 6,690 Amstetten 2,966 Wiener-Neudorf 2,954 Schwechat 2,568 Steyr-Münichholz 1,971 Schlier-Redl-Zipf 1,488
In early 1940, a large number of Poles were transferred to the Mauthausen-Gusen complex. The first groups were mostly composed of artists, scientists, Boy Scouts, teachers, and university professors, who were arrested duringIntelligenzaktion and the course of the AB Action. Camp Gusen II was called by Germans "Vernichtungslager fur die polnische Intelligenz" ("Extermination camp for Polish inteligentsia").
Later in the war, new arrivals were from every category of the "unwanted", but educated people and so-called political prisoners constituted the largest part of all inmates until the end of the war. DuringWorld War II, large groups of Spanish Republicans were also transferred to Mauthausen and its sub-camps. Most of them were former Republican soldiers or activists who had fled to France afterFranco's victory and then were captured by German forces after the French defeat in 1940 or handed over to the Germans by the Vichy authorities. The largest of these groups arrived at Gusen in January 1941. In early 1941, almost all the Poles and Spaniards, except for a small group of specialists working in the quarry's stone mill, were transferred from Mauthausen to Gusen. Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in 1941 the camps started to receive a large number of Soviet POWs. Most of them were kept in huts separated from the rest of the camp. The Soviet prisoners of war were a major part of the first groups to be gassed in the newly-built gas chamber in early 1942. In 1944, a large group of Hungarian and Dutch Jews was also transferred to the camp. Much like all the other large groups of prisoners that were transferred to Mauthausen-Gusen, most of them either died as a result of the hard labour and poor conditions, or were deliberately killed by throwing them down the sides of the Mauthausen quarry, nicknamed the Parachutists' Wall by the SS guards and Kapos. The nickname was a cruel joke which mocked the doomed prisoners by calling them "Parachutists without a parachute".
Prisoners playing "leap frog".
Throughout the years of World War II, the camps of Mauthausen-Gusen received new prisoners in smaller transports on a daily basis; mostly from other concentration camps in German-occupied Europe. Most of the prisoners in the sub-camps of Mauthausen were kept in various detention sites prior to transportation to their final destination. The most notable of such centres for Mauthausen-Gusen were the infamous camps at Dachau and Auschwitz. The first transports from Auschwitz arrived in February 1942. The second transport in June of that year was much larger and numbered some 1,200 prisoners. Similar groups were sent from Auschwitz to Gusen and Mauthausen in April and November 1943, and then in January and February 1944. Finally, after Adolf Eichmann visited Mauthausen in May of that year, KZ Mauthausen-Gusen received the first group of roughly 8,000 Hungarian Jews from Auschwitz; the first group to be evacuated from that camp before the Soviet advance. Initially, the groups evacuated from Auschwitz consisted of qualified workers for the ever-growing industry of the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex, but as the evacuation proceeded other categories of people were also transported to Mauthausen, Gusen, Vienna or Melk.
Camp file of a Polish political prisoner No. 382,Jerzy Ka?mirkiewicz
Over time, Auschwitz had to almost stop accepting new prisoners and most were directed to Mauthausen instead. The last group— roughly 10,000 prisoners—was evacuated in the last wave in January 1945, only a few weeks before the Soviet liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. Among them was a large group of civilians arrested by the Germans after the failure of the Warsaw Uprising, but by the liberation not more than 500 of them were still alive. Altogether, during the final months of the war, 23,364 prisoners from otherconcentration camps arrived at the camp complex. Many more perished during death marches, where they dropped dead because of pure exhaustion, or in railway wagons, where the prisoners were confined at sub-zero temperatures—without adequate food or water—for several days prior to their arrival. Prisoner transports were considered to be less important than other important services.
Many of those who survived the journey died before they could be registered, whilst others were given the camp numbers of prisoners who had already been killed. Most were then accommodated in the camps or in the newly-established tent camp (German: Zeltlager) just outside the Mauthausen sub-camp, where roughly 2,000 people were forced into tents intended for not more than 800 inmates, and then starved to death.
As in all other German concentration camps, not all the prisoners were equal. Their treatment depended largely on the category assigned to each inmate, as well as their nationality and rank within the system. The so-called kapos, or prisoners who had been recruited by their captors to police their fellow prisoners, were given more food and higher pay in the form of concentration camp coupons which could be exchanged for cigarettes in the canteen, as well as a separate room inside most barracks. In addition, following Himmler's order in June, 1941, a brothel was opened for them in 1942, in the Mauthausen and Gusen I camps. The Kapos formed the main part of the so-calledProminents (German: Prominenz), or prisoners who were given a much better treatment than the average inmate.
Women and children in Mauthausen-Gusen
Although the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex was mostly a labour camp for men, a women's camp was opened in Mauthausen, in September 1944, with the first transport of female prisoners from Auschwitz. Eventually, more women and children came to Mauthausen fromRavensbrück, Bergen Belsen, Gross Rosen, and Buchenwald. With them came some female guards. Twenty are known to have served in the Mauthausen camp, and sixty in the whole camp complex. Female guards also staffed the Mauthausen sub-camps at Hirtenberg, Lenzing (the main women's sub-camp in Austria), and St. Lambrecht. The Chief Overseers at Mauthausen were firstly Margarete Freinberger, and thenJane Bernigau. Of all the female Overseers who served in Mauthausen, almost all of them were recruited between September and November 1944, from Austrian cities and towns. In early April 1945, at least 2,500 more female prisoners came from the female sub-camps atAmstetten, St. Lambrecht, Hirtenberg, and the Flossenbürg sub-camp at Freiberg. It is rumoured that Hildegard Lächert also served at Mauthausen.
The available Mauthausen inmate statistics from the spring of 1943, shows that there were 2,400 prisoners below the age of 20, which was 12.8% of the 18,655 population. By late March 1945, the number of juvenile prisoners in Mauthausen increased to 15,048, which was 19.1% of the 78,547 Mauthausen inmates. The number of imprisoned children increased 6.2 times, whereas the total number of adult prisoners during the same period multiplied by a factor of only four. These numbers reflected the increasing use of Polish, Czech, Russian, and Balkan teenagers as slave labour as the war continued. Statistics showing the composition of juvenile inmates shortly before their liberationreveal the following major child/prisoner sub-groups: 5,809 foreign civilian labourers, 5,055 political prisoners, 3,654 Jews, and 330 Russian POWs. There were also 23 Roma children, 20 so-called "anti-social elements", 6 Spaniards, and 3 Jehovah's Witnesses. In February, 1945, a transport of 420 Jewish children between the ages of 3-7 arrived at Gusen; the children were inside burlap sacks. They were killed over a two-day period by lethal injection to the heart.
The treatment of inmates and methodology of crime Hans Bonarewitz being taken to his execution after escaping and being recaptured 7 July 1942.
Although not the only concentration camp where the German authorities implemented theirextermination through labour (Vernichtung durch Arbeit), Mauthausen-Gusen was one of the most brutal and severe. The conditions within the camp were considered exceptionally hard to bear, even by concentration camp standards. The inmates suffered not only from malnutrition, overcrowded huts and constant abuse and beatings by the guards and kapos, but also from exceptionally hard labour. As there were too many prisoners in Mauthausen to have all of them work in its quarry at the same time, many were put to work in workshops, or had to do other manual work, whilst the unfortunate ones who were selected to work in the quarry were only there because of their so-called "crimes" in the camp. The reasons for sending them to work in the "Punishment-Detail" were trivial, and included such "crimes" as not saluting a German passing by.
The work in the quarries — often in unbearable heat or in temperatures as low as −30 °C(−22 °F) — led to exceptionally high mortality rates. The food rations were limited, and during the 1940–1942 period, an average inmate weighed 40 kilograms, roughly 88 pounds. It is estimated that the average energy content of food rations dropped from about 1,750 calories a day during the 1940–1942 period, to between 1,150 and 1,460 during the next period. In 1945, the energy content was even lower and did not exceed 600 to 1,000 calories a day; that is less than a third of the energy needed by an average worker in heavy industry. This led to the starvation of thousands of inmates.
The inmates of Mauthausen, Gusen I, and Gusen II had access to a separate sub-camp for the sick — the so-called Krankenlager. Despite the fact that (roughly) 100 medics from among the inmates were working there, they were not given any medication and could offer only basic first aid. Thus the hospital camp – as it was called by the German authorities – was, in fact, the last stop before death for thousands of inmates, and very few had a chance to recover.
"Stairs of Death" Prisoners forced to carry a granite block up 186 steps to the top of the quarry. April, 1941 visit by Heinrich Himmler
Confession of Franz Ziereis
Commander of Mauthausen Concentration Camp
On May 23,1945 SS Standartenfuehrer Ziereis, commander of the concentration camp Mauthausen, while trying to escape, was seriously wounded by shots from pursuing American soldiers. On May 24th, the dying, Ziereis was interrogated by the authorities. We have before us the record of the interrogation of Ziereis which is certified by the burgomaster Feichtinger and Edelbauer, commanding officer of the rural police in St. Valentin. In the fact of his imminent death Ziereis made a confession, the confession of the hangman...
"My name is Franz Ziereis, born 1903 in Munich, where my mother and brothers and sisters are still living. I, myself, am not a wicked man and I have risen through work. I was a merchant by profession and, during the period of unemployment, I worked as a carpenter. In 1924 I joined the eleventh Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Later I was transferred to the training department and then to Mauthausen as commanding officer. The following posts and camps were under my command: Mauthausen, Gusen, Linz,
Ebensee, Passau, Ternberg, Gross-Raming, Melk, Eisenerz, Beppern, Klagenfurt, Laibach, Loibl, Loiblpass, Heinkel, W. Wiener-Neustadt, Mittelber and Floridsdorf with approximately 81.000 inmates. The garrison of the camp Mauthausen numbered 5.000 SS men. The highest number of inmates in Mauthausen was 19.800. On the order of SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Krebsbach a gas chamber was built in the form of a bathroom. The inmates were gassed in this gas chamber. All executions were carried out on the order of the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police Himmler, the SS Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner, or the SS Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. Finally 800 inmates were gassed in Gusen I Block 31. I do not know the whereabouts of SS Oberscharfuehrer Jenschk; he murdered 700 inmates in Gusen.
Jenschk carried out the murders in the following manner: At an outside temperature of minus 12 degrees (centigrades) he made the inmates bath in water and then stand in the open stark naked until they died. Dr. Kiesewetter killed the inmates through benzine injections. SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. Richter, while operating, on inmates regardless whether they were ill or healthy extirpated a piece of the brain and thus caused their death. This happened to about 1000 inmates. SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl sent weak and sick inmates into the woods and let them starve to death. The sick tried to stay alive by eating grass and bark
but all died miserably of hunger. Pohl furthermore halved the food rations of the inmates and had all sick and weak inmates murdered through gas. This gas chamber was situated in Hartheim, ten kilometers distant from Linz. About 1.500.000 inmates were gassed in it. In Mauthausen all gassed inmates were reported as having died of natural causes.
(Note: The estimated number of inmates gassed in Hartheim is 30,000.)
Pohl sent me 6.000 women and children who, without any food and during very cold weather had been in transit in open freight cars for about ten days. I was ordered to send the children away. I believe that they all died. Thereupon I became very nervous. On orders from Berlin 2500 inmates from a transport from Auschwitz were bathed in hot water and during very cold
weather had to stand in the open until they perished. Gauleiter Eigruber did not send any food, but ordered that 50% of the food for the inmates was to be handed out to the civilian population. Gluecks ordered that the inmates, occupied in the crematory, were to be relieved at least every three weeks and to be killed through shots in the neck, because they know too much. Furthermore it was ordered that all physicians and the nursing personnel was to be sent to an alleged labour camp in order to be killed.
The camp Lambrecht was liquidated. Pohl and several women gave large banquets and drinking parties in a villa. The inmates who worked in the villa were killed because they had seen too much, accused of theft and transported to Mauthausen with the order "destroy".
Himmler gave the order to load a 45 kilo stone on an inmate's back and make him run around with it until he fell dead. Himmler ordered us to establish a penal labor company according to this system. The inmates had to haul stones until they collapsed, then they were shot and their record was annotated "Trying to escape". Others were driven into a fence made of charged high-tension wire. Others were literally torn to pieces by the dog named "Lord" belonging to the camp commander Bachmeyer who sicced it on the inmates. On 30 April 33, inmates of the camp office were ordered to assemble the court yard. There they were shot like wild animals by SS Oberscharfuehrer Niedermeyer and the Gestapoagent Polaska. Altogether, as far as I know, 65,000 inmates were murdered in Mauthausen. In most cases, I myself took part in the executions.
Frequently I joined in the shooting with a small calibre weapon. SS men were trained on the rifle ranges where inmates were used targets. Reichsminister Himmler and SS Obergruppenfuehrer (Lt. General) Kaltenbrunner ordered me to kill all inmates if the frontlines approached Mauthausen. I had orders from Berlin to blow up Mauthausen and Gusen including all the inmates. All inmates were to be brought into the Gusen mine and blown up. The blasting was to be carried out by SS Obergruppenfuehrers Wolfram and Ackermann. Pohl issued the order "
Ziereis died shortly after the interrogation.
The above copy is a correct excerpt from the Austrian court files in the trial of Dr. Guido Schmidt et al as published in the Wiener Arbeiterzeitung from September 20, 1945.
The rock-quarry in Mauthausen was at the base of the infamous "Stairs of Death". Prisoners were forced to carry roughly-hewn blocks of stone — often weighing as much as 50 kilograms (110 lb) — up the 186 stairs - one behind the other. As a result, many exhausted prisoners collapsed in front of the other prisoners in the line, and then fell on top of the other prisoners, creating a horrificdomino effect; the first prisoner falling onto the next, and so on, all the way down the stairs.
Such brutality was not accidental. The SS guards would often force prisoners — exhausted from hours of hard labour without sufficient food and water — to race up the stairs carrying blocks of stone. Those who survived the ordeal would often be placed in a line-up at the edge of a cliff known as "The Parachutists Wall" (German: Fallschirmspringerwand). At gun-point each prisoner would have the option of being shot or pushing the prisoner in front of him off the cliff. Other common methods of extermination of prisoners who were either sick, unfit for further labour or as a means of collective responsibility or after escape attempts included:
- Being beaten to death (by the SS and Kapos)
- Icy showers - some 3,000 inmates died of hypothermia - after having being forced to take an icy cold shower - and who were then left outside in cold weather.
- Medical experiments
- Aribert Heim, dubbed "Doctor Death" by the inmates, was there for seven weeks, which was enough to carry out his experiments
- Another of the Nazi scientists to perform experiments on the inmates was Karl Gross, who purposely infected hundreds of prisoners with cholera and typhus in order to test his experimental vaccines on them. Between February 5, 1942, and mid-April 1944, more than 1,500 prisoners were killed as a result of his experiments
- Injections of phenol. (A group of 2,000 prisoners who applied to be transferred to the sanatorium were declared mentally sick and were killed by Dr. Ramsauer in the course of the H-13 action)
- Drowning in large barrels of water (Gusen II)
- Beating to death or starving to death in bunkers
- Throwing the prisoners on the 380 volt electric barbed wire fence
- Forcing prisoners outside the boundaries of the camp and then shooting them on the pretense that they were attempting to escape
After the war one of the survivors, Dr. Antoni Go?ci?ski reported 62 ways of murdering people in the camps of Gusen I and Mauthausen.Hans Maršálek estimated that an average life expectancy of newly-arrived prisoners in Gusen varied from 6 months between 1940 and 1942, to less than 3 months in early 1945.
Paradoxically, with the growth of forced labour industry in various sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen, the situation of some of the prisoners improved significantly. While the food rations were increasingly limited every month, the heavy industry necessitated skilled specialists rather than unqualified workers and the brutality of the camp's SS and Kapos was limited. While the prisoners were still beaten on a daily basis and the Muselmänner were still exterminated, from early 1943 on some of the factory workers were allowed to receive food parcels from their families (mostly Poles and Frenchmen). This allowed many of them not only to evade the risk of starvation, but also to help other prisoners who had no relatives outside the camps — or who were not allowed to receive parcels.Death toll Estimated death toll proportion Some of the bodies being removed by German civilians for decent burial at Gusen concentration camp after its liberation
Because the Germans destroyed much of the camp's files and evidence and often gave newly-arrived prisoners the camp numbers of those who had already been killed, the exact death toll of the Mauthausen-Gusen complex is impossible to calculate. The matter is further complicated due to some of the inmates of Gusen being murdered in Mauthausen, and at least 3,423 sent to Hartheim Castle, 40.7 km (25.3 mi) away. Also, several thousands were killed in mobile gas chambers, without any mention of the exact number of victims in the remaining files. The SS, before their escape from the camps on 4 May 1945, tried to destroy the evidence, allowing approximately only 40,000 victims to be identified. During the first days after the liberation, the camp's main chancellery was seized by the members of a Polish inmate resistance organization; secured against the wishes of other inmates, who wanted to burn it. After the war, the main chancellery was brought by one of the survivors to Poland, then passed to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in O?wi?cim. Parts of the death register of Gusen I camp were secured by the Polish inmates, who took it to Australia after the war. In 1969 the files were given to the International Red Cross Tracing Bureau.The surviving camp archives include personal files of 37,411 murdered prisoners, including 22,092 Poles, 5,024 Spaniards, 2,843 Soviet prisoners of war and 7,452 inmates of 24 other nationalities. The surviving parts of the death register of KZ Gusen list an additional 30,536 names.
Apart from the surviving camp files of the sub-camps of Mauthausen, the main documents used for an estimation of the death toll of the camp complexes are:
- A report by Józef ?mij, a survivor who had been working in the Gusen I camp's chancellery. His report is based on personally-made copies of yearly reports from the period between 1940 and 1944, and the camps commander's daily reports for the period between 1 January 1945 and the day of the liberation.
- Personal notes of Stanis?aw Nogaj, another inmate who had been working in the chancellery of Gusen
- Death register prepared by the SS chief medic of the Mauthausen main chancellery for the sub-camps of Gusen (similar records for the Mauthausen sub-camp itself were destroyed)
Because of that the exact death toll of the entire Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp system varies considerably from source to source. Various scholars place it at between 122,766 and 320,000, with other numbers also frequently quoted being 200,000 and "over 150,000". Various historians place the total death toll in the four main camps of Mauthausen, Gusen I, Gusen II and Gusen III at between 55,000 and 60,000. In addition, during the first month after the liberation additional 1042 prisoners died in American field hospitals.Death Toll Statistics Gusen I, II and III
Out of approximately 320,000 prisoners who were incarcerated in various sub-camps of KZ Mauthausen-Gusen throughout the war, only approximately 80,000 survived, including between 20,487 and 21,386 in Gusen I, II and III.Liberation and post-war heritage Tanks of U.S. 11th Armored Divisionentering the Mauthausen concentration camp; banner in Spanish reads "Antifascist Spaniards greet the forces of liberation". The photo was taken on 6 May 1945 Survivors of Gusen shortly after their liberation Temporary identity papers produced for Mauthausen detainee after camp liberation.
During the final months before liberation, the camp's commander Franz Ziereis prepared for its defence against a possible Soviet offensive. Most of the inmates of German and Austrian nationality "volunteered" for the SS-Freiwillige Häftlingsdivision, an SS unit composed mostly of former concentration camp inmates and headed by Oskar Dirlewanger. The remaining prisoners were rushed to build a line of granite anti-tank obstacles to the east of Mauthausen. The inmates unable to cope with the hard labour and malnutrition were exterminated in large numbers to free space for newly-arrived evacuation transports from other camps, including most of the sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen located in eastern Austria. In the final months of the war, the main source of calories, that is the parcels of food sent through the International Red Cross, stopped and food rations became catastrophically low. The prisoners transferred to the "Hospital Sub-camp" received one piece of bread per 20 inmates and roughly half a litre of weed soup a day. This made some of the prisoners, previously engaged in various types of resistance activity, begin to prepare plans to defend the camp in case of an SS attempt to exterminate all the remaining inmates. It is not known why the prisoners of Gusen I and II were not exterminated en-masse, despite direct orders from Heinrich Himmler; Ziereis' plan assumed rushing all the prisoners into the tunnels of the underground factories of Kellerbau and blowing up the entrances. The plan was known to one of the Polish resistance organizations which started an ambitious plan of gathering tools necessary to dig air vents in the entrances. On April 28, under cover of a fictional air-raid alarm, some 22,000 prisoners of Gusen were rushed into the tunnels. However, after several hours in the tunnels all of the prisoners were allowed to return to the camp. Stanis?aw Dobosiewicz, the author of a monumental monograph of the Mauthausen-Gusen complex, explains that one of the possible causes of the failure of the German plan was that the Polish prisoners managed to cut the fuse wires. Although the plan was abandoned, the prisoners feared that the SS might want to massacre the prisoners by other means. Because of that the Polish, Soviet and French prisoners prepared a plan for an assault on the barracks of the SS guards in order to seize the arms necessary to put up a fight. A similar plan was also devised by the Spanish inmates.
On 3 May the SS and other guards started to prepare for evacuation of the camp. The following day, the guards of Mauthausen were replaced with unarmed Volkssturm soldiers and an improvised unit formed of elderly police officers and fire fighters evacuated from Vienna. The police officer in charge of the unit accepted the "inmate self-government" as the camp's highest authority and Martin Gerken, until then the highest-ranking kapo prisoner in the Gusen's administration (in the rank of Lagerälteste, or the Camp's Elder), became the new de facto commander. He attempted to create an International Prisoner Committee that would become a provisional governing body of the camp until it was liberated by one of the approaching armies, but he was openly accused of co-operation with the SS and the plan failed. All work in the sub-camps of Mauthausen stopped and the inmates focused on preparations for their liberation - or defence of the camps against a possible assault by the SS divisions concentrated in the area.The remnants of several German divisions indeed assaulted the Mauthausen sub-camp, but were repelled by the prisoners who took over the camp. Out of all the main sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen only Gusen III was to be evacuated. On May 1, the inmates were rushed on a death march towardsSankt Georgen, but were ordered to return to the camp after several hours. The operation was repeated the following day, but called off soon afterwards. The following day, the SS guards deserted the camp, leaving the prisoners to their fate.
On May 5, 1945 the camp at Mauthausen was approached by soldiers of the 41st Recon Squad of the US 11th Armored Division, 3rd US Army. The reconnaissance squad was led by S/SGT Albert J. Kosiek. His troop disarmed the policemen and left the camp. By the time of its liberation, most of the SS-men of Mauthausen had already fled; however, some 30 who were left were killed by the prisoners; a similar number were killed in Gusen II. By 6 May all the remaining sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex, with the exception of the two camps in the Loibl Pass, were also liberated by American forces.
Among the inmates liberated from the camp was Lieutenant Jack Taylor, an officer of the Office of Strategic Services. He had managed to survive with the help of several prisoners and was later a key witness at the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials carried out by the Dachau International Military Tribunal. Another of the camp's survivors was Simon Wiesenthal, an engineer who spent the rest of his life hunting Nazi war criminals. Future Medal of Honor winner Tibor "Ted" Rubin was imprisoned there as a young teenager; a Hungarian Jew, he vowed to join the U.S. Army upon his liberation and later did just that, distinguishing himself in the Korean War as a corporal in the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Following the capitulation of Germany, the Mauthausen-Gusen complex fell within the Soviet sector of occupation of Austria. Initially, the Soviet authorities used parts of the Mauthausen and Gusen I camps as barracks for the Red Army. At the same time, the underground factories were being dismantled and sent to the USSR as a war booty. After that, between 1946 and 1947, the camps were unguarded and many furnishings and facilities of the camp were dismantled, both by the Red Army and by the local population. In the early summer of 1947, the Soviet forces had blown the tunnels up and were then withdrawn from the area, while the camp was turned over to Austrian civilian authorities.Memorials
It was not until 1949 that it was declared a national memorial site. Finally, 30 years after the camp's liberation, on 3 May 1975, ChancellorBruno Kreisky officially opened the Mauthausen Museum. Unlike Mauthausen, much of what constituted the sub-camps of Gusen I, II and III is now covered by residential areas built after the war.
In 1898, Prince Camillo Heinrich Starhemberg (1835 - 1900) donated the castle as a gift to the Upper Austria Charity Organization. With the help of additional donations, they used the castle from the beginning of the 20th century as a psychiatric institution (German:Psychiatrische Anstalt, but originally called the Idioten-Anstalt).
Hartheim lies in the middle of the so-called Eferding Basin, that runs along the River Danube fromOttensheim to Aschach an der Donau. As early as 1130 a family with the name Hartheim is mentioned in the records. They were vassals of the bishops of Passau. In 1287 three brothers, Conrad, Peter and Henry of Hartheim, were named as owners of the castle as part of a barter arrangement with the Wilhering Abbey. In any case by 1323 another family was named as the owners. Until the middle of the 14th century the site consisted mainly of just one tower, subsequently a residence was added and it was surrounded by a small wall with ramparts and ditches.
After changing hands several times the castle ended up in the possession of the Aspan family, who probably built the castle into its present shape. At the beginning of the 1690s they had a completely new castle built conforming to perceptions of the ideal Renaissance style with a regular four-winged building with four polygonal corner towers and a higher central tower.
In 1799 George Adam, Prince of Starhemberg, purchased the castle. But by 1862 the castle was in a rather poor condition, as a contemporary report describes: Doors, windows and ovens are entirely missing, ... and several ceilings must be replaced.
In 1898 Camillo Henry, Prince of Starhemberg, made a present of the castle building, the outbuildings and some land to the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society (Oberösterreichischen Landeswohltätigkeitsverein or OÖ. LWV). It was intended to use further donation to convert the building into an "Idiot's Institute" as it was described at the time. In addition between 1900 and 1910 major renovation and conversion work was carried out to enable the building to be used as a care home for mentally handicapped people. In 1926 a staircase was dismantled and replaced by a bed lift.Nazi era Main article: Hartheim Euthanasia Centre
Following Hitler's euthanasia decree in 1939, Hartheim was selected as one of six euthanasia centres in the Reich. Between May 1940 and December 1944, approximately 18,000 people physically and mentally disabled were killed at Schloss Hartheim by gassing and lethal injection as part of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, named after the infamous Berlin address "Tiergartenstrasse 4". These included about twelve thousand prisoners from the Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps who were sent here to be gassed. The castle was regularly visited by the psychiatrists Karl Brandt, Professor of Psychiatry at Würzburg University, and Werner Heyde.
After World War II, the building was converted into apartments. Beginning in 1969, the gas chamber was opened to visitors. Hartheim Castle is now a Memorial Site dedicated to the thousands of physically and mentally handicapped persons who were murdered here by the Nazis.
In 1946, Countess Alice Ricciardi-von Platen (28 April 1910 in Weissenhaus - 23 February 2008 in Cortona, Italy), a psychiatrist who practised near Linz, Austria, was invited to join the German team observing the so-called Doctors Trial in Nuremberg. The trial was presided over by American judges, who indicted Karl Brandt and 22 others. The 16 who were convicted included Dr. Josef Mengele; seven were sentenced to death. Her 1948 book, Die Tötung Geisteskranker in Deutschland, ("The killing of the mentally ill in Germany"), was judged a scandal by German medical professionals.
Jerzy Ka?mirkiewicz (Polish pronunciation: [?j??? ka?mir?k?evit??]; 1 924-1977) was a Polishscientist and university professor, a specialist in wood industry at the Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW).
He was born April 24, 1924 in G?sewo near Pu?tusk, Poland, to a family of a teacher at the local manor. Before the war the family moved to Pu?tusk, where Jerzy's father became a teacher at the local primary school. There Ka?mirkiewicz formed a Scouting troop for boys. Shortly after the outbreak of the Polish Defensive War and the German take-over of Poland, both Jerzy and his father found themselves on the proscription lists of the Gestapo. Arrested in December 1939, both were sent through Auschwitz and the Dachau concentration camp toMauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, where they spent the entire war as political prisoners.
Liberated in 1945, they returned to Pu?tusk, where Jerzy recreated the scouting troop in the school, now headed by his father. After hismatura exam, he graduated from the Warsaw-based Main School of Agriculture and started his university career there. With the grade ofdocent he became the head of the Faculty of Wood Technology (WTD). One of the most notable specialists in technology of wood processing, he authored numerous works on the topic. He also became a co-founder of several wood processing plants in Poland andYugoslavia. Apart from his university career, he was an active member of the ZBoWiD veterans organization and initiator of the construction of several neighbourhoods in the city of Warsaw financed by the university workers. He died of a stroke on May 21, 1977 and is buried at the Pow?zki Cemetery.
Gerda "Jane" Bernigau
(born 5 October 1908)
Bernigau was born as Gerda Bernigau on 5 October 1908, in Sagan, Germany (now ?aga?, Poland). In 1938, she joined the camp staff at theLichtenburg early camp in eastern Germany. There, because of her willingness to get her job done, she was promoted to chief wardress(Oberaufseherin). In May 1939, Bernigau went to Ravensbrück concentration camp as deputy to the head guard where she trained newcomers into the SS women's auxiliary.
Bernigau was posted to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in 1941 as chief wardress. Later she was sent back to Ravensbrück and again back to Gross-Rosen. She was awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter medal in 1943 for her devotion to the Third Reichand her camp services. In September 1944, Bernigau was sent as supervising wardress to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. Soon after she served in the St. Lamprecht subcamp, and when the Americans came near the camp she was called back to serve at Mauthausen.
Bernigau fled Mauthausen in early May 1945 and was never prosecuted for war crimes
Aribert Ferdinand Heim
(born 28 June 1914 – allegedly died 10 August 1992)
was an Austrian doctor, also known as Dr. Death. As an SS doctor in a Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, he is accused of killing and torturing many inmates by various methods, such as direct injections of toxic compounds into the hearts of his victims. He is alleged to have lived for many years in Cairo, Egypt under the alias of Tarek Farid Hussein and reportedly died there on 10 August 1992. His grave and body have not been found. At the end of a BBC documentary, broadcast 12 September 2009, it was stated that German police visited Cairo in 2009 but found no evidence of Heim's death.
The prisoners at Mauthausen called Heim "Dr. Death". For about two months (October to December 1941), Heim was stationed at the camp called Ebensee near Linz, Austria, where he carried out experiments on Jews similar to those performed at Auschwitz by Josef Mengele. According to Holocaust survivors Jewish prisoners were poisoned with various injections directly into the heart - including petrol, water, phenol and poison - to induce a quicker death. He is reported to have removed organs from prisoners without anesthesia.
According to a former camp inmate, an 18-year-old Jewish man came to the clinic with a foot inflammation. He was asked by Heim why he was so fit. He replied that he had been a football player and swimmer. Instead of treating the prisoner's foot, Heim placed him under anesthesia, cut him open, took apart one kidney, removed the second and castrated him. The man was decapitated and Heim boiled the flesh off the skull for use as a paperweight and display
On 15 March 1945 Heim was captured by US soldiers and sent to a camp for prisoners of war. He was released and worked as agynecologist at Baden-Baden until his disappearance in 1962; he had telephoned his home and was told the police were waiting for him. Having been questioned on previous occasions, he surmised the reason (an international warrant for his arrest had been in place since that date) and went into hiding. According to his son Rüdiger Heim, he drove through France and Spain onward to Morocco, moving finally toEgypt via Libya. After Alois Brunner (Adolf Eichmann's top assistant), Heim had been the second most wanted Nazi officer.
In 2006, a German newspaper reported that he had a daughter, Waltraud, living in the outskirts of Puerto Montt, Chile who said he died in 1993. However, when she tried to recover a million-dollar inheritance from an account in his name, she was unable to provide a death certificate.
In August 2008, to take hold of his assets, Heim's son asked that his father be declared legally dead; he intended to donate them to projects working to document the atrocities committed in the camps.
After years of apparently false sightings, the circumstances of Heim's escape, life in hiding and death were jointly reported by the German broadcaster ZDF and the New York Times in February 2009. They reported that he lived under a false name, Tarek Farid Hussein, in Egypt and that he died of intestinal cancer in Cairo in 1992.
Heim had settled in Cairo in 1962 where he converted to Islam. According to his neighbour, "His life was very ordered: exercise in the morning, then prayers at the main Al-Azhar mosque, and long sessions spent reading and writing while he sat on a rocking chair." The reporters investigating his case found an Egyptian death certificate and confirmed its authenticity.
In an interview at the family’s villa in Baden-Baden his son Rüdiger admitted publicly for the first time that he was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death. Heim says it was during the Olympics, and that he died the day after the games ended. According to Efraim Zuroff, Rüdiger Heim had - until the publishing of the ZDF research results - constantly denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of Aribert Heim. The German police authorities are still investigating to this day, since there is no sufficient evidence of Aribert Heim's death.
On 8 June 2001, a lawyer issued a statement to a Berlin courthouse in which he claimed to be in contact with Aribert Heim. On March 18, 2009, the Simon Wiesenthal Center filed a criminal complaint due to suspicion of false testimony.
In the years since his disappearance, Heim was the target of a rapidly escalating manhunt and ever-increasing rewards for his capture. Following his escape there were reported sightings in Latin America, Spain and Africa, as well as formal investigations aimed at bringing him to justice, some of which took place even after he had apparently died in Egypt. The German government offered €150,000 for information leading to his arrest, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched Operation Last Chance, a project to assist governments in the location and arrest of suspected Nazi war criminals who are still alive. Tax records prove that, as late as 2001, Heim's lawyer asked the German authorities to refund capital gains taxes levied on him because he was living abroad.
Heim reportedly hid out in South America, Spain and the Balkans, but only his presence in Spain has ever been confirmed. Efraim Zuroff, of the Wiesenthal Center, initiated an active search for his whereabouts, and in late 2005, Spanish police incorrectly determined his location as Palafrugell. According to El Mundo, Heim had been helped by associates of Otto Skorzeny, who had organized one of the biggestODESSA bases in Franco's Spain. Press reports in mid-October 2005 suggested that Heim's arrest by Spanish police was "imminent". Within a few days, however, newer reports suggested that he had successfully evaded capture and had relocated either to another part of Spain or else to Denmark.
According to a 2007 publication by former Israeli Air Force Colonel Danny Baz, Heim was kidnapped from Canada and taken to Santa Catalina off the Californian coast, where he was killed by a Nazi-hunting team codenamed "The Owl" in 1982. Baz himself claims to have been part of this group. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, as well as the French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld say this is not true.
In July 2007, the Austrian Justice Ministry declared that they would pay €50,000 for information leading to his arrest and extradition to Austria.
On 6 July 2008 Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, headed to South America as part of a public campaign to capture the most wanted Nazi in the world and bring him to justice, claiming that Heim was alive and hiding in Patagonia, either in Chile or Argentina. He elaborated on 15 July 2008 that he was sure Heim was alive and the groundwork had been laid to capture him within weeks.
- 28 June 1914~ died 10 August 1992
Mauthausen Ausweis from WWII
11th Armored Division (United States)
On May 5, 1945, elements of the US 11th Armored Division liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Tibor "Ted" Rubin (born June 18, 1929) is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the United States in 1948 and received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War by President George W. Bush on September 23, 2005. Rubin is a resident of Garden Grove, California.
Rubin was repeatedly nominated for various medals and awards, but was overlooked because of anti-Semitism by a superior: according to the Washington Post, "in affidavits filed in support of Rubin's nomination, fellow soldiers said their sergeant was an anti-Semite who gave Rubin dangerous assignments in hopes of getting him killed."
Medal of Honor recipient Rubin wears the Medal of Honor he received at the White House.
Rubin came to the United States in 1948, settled in New York and worked first as a shoemaker and then as a butcher.
In 1949, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, both as an assumed shortcut to citizenship and, he hoped, to attend the Army’s butcher school in Chicago. Knowing hardly any English, he failed the language test, but tried again in 1950 and passed, with some judicious help from two fellow test-takers.Antisemitism in the army
By July of that year, Private First Class Rubin found himself fighting on the frontlines in Korea with I Company, Eighth Regiment, First Cavalry Division. There he encountered an allegedly anti-Semitic sergeant who consistently "volunteered" Rubin for the most dangerous patrols and missions. This was attested to by lengthy affidavits submitted by nearly a dozen men who served under him, mostly self-described "country boys" from the South and Midwest.
On one such mission, according to the testimonies of his comrades, Rubin secured a route of retreat for his company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against waves of North Korean soldiers. For this and other acts of bravery, Rubin was three times recommended for the Medal of Honor by two of his commanding officers. Both were killed in action shortly after, but not before ordering Rubin's sergeant to begin the necessary paperwork to secure the medals for Rubin. Some of Rubin’s fellow GIs were present when the order was issued, and all are convinced that the sergeant deliberately ignored the orders. "I really believe, in my heart, that [the sergeant] would have jeopardized his own safety rather than assist in any way whatsoever in the awarding of the medal to a person of Jewish descent," wrote Corporal Harold Speakman in a notarized affidavit.
Toward the end of October 1950, massive Chinese troop concentrations crossed the border into North Korea and attacked the unprepared Americans. After most of his regiment had been wiped out, the severely wounded Rubin was captured and spent the next 30 months in aprisoner of war camp.
Faced with constant hunger, filth and disease, most of the GIs simply gave up. "No one wanted to help anyone. Everybody was for himself," wrote Sergeant Leo A. Cormier Jr., a fellow prisoner.
The exception was Rubin. Almost every evening, he would sneak out of the camp to steal food from Chinese and North Korean supply depots, knowing that he would be shot if caught. "He shared the food evenly among the GIs," Cormier wrote. "He also took care of us, nursed us, carried us to the latrine... He did many good deeds, which he told us were mitzvahs in the Jewish tradition... He was a very religious Jew and helping his fellow men was the most important thing to him." The survivors of the camp credited Rubin with keeping them alive.
Rubin refused his captors' repeated offers of repatriation to Hungary, by then behind the Iron Curtain.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners.
Himmler at the Quarry
Himmler at the quarry, taken apparently immediately after the preceding image.
Heinrich Himmler visited Mauthausen-Gusen i
Heinrich Himmler visited Mauthausen-Gusen in 1942, and is shown here conversing with a guard at the quarry.
Execution of Bonarewitz
Execution of Bonarewitz, a prisoner who attempted an escape.
Medical Experiments at KZ Gusen
Barracks No. 27 to 32 were used for the ill and unfit inmates of KZ Gusen Camp. All these barracks were located directly near the crematorium of KZ Gusen, where
Dr. Kaminski was chief of Autopsia and chief prosecutor. Between 1940 and February 1944, medical help was
forbidden to Jewish inmates. Also, no medical treatment was given to
prisoners from the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1942. Neither Jewish inmates nor Soviet inmates received any narcotics in cases they were used for medical experiment there. The camp also had little medicine and no bandages. Prisoners had to use paper or other things for bandages. Furthermore, inmates that were infected by typhoid fever or tuberculosis were generally killed at KZ Gusen by heart-injections. For this they were isolated in a special part of Barrack No. 30 called "Graben" (ditch). In some cases, prior to killing these inmates, they were subjected to medical experiments. Starting in 1945, all inmates of Mauthausen Central Camp who suffered tuberculosis were sent to Gusen to die in Block No. 30. The barracks were used as follows:
Block 27~Pathological Unit (Dr. Helmut Vetter)
Block 28~Chirurgical Unit (Dr. Toni Goscinski)
Block 29~Infected inmates
Block 30~Infected inmates (and "Graben" (ditch) = killings by heart-injections)Block 31~Infected inmates (and "Bahnhof" (railway-station) = death-chamber; death by diarrhoea)
Block 32~Reconvalescent Inmates
The inmates who were sent to
"Bahnhof" at Barrack No. 31 due to diarrhoea were refused any medical help. Neither the doctors, nor other prisoners entered this barrack. Even the little food was not brought into this barrack--it was only brought to the front entrance. From time to time the "Blockaelteste" entered the barrack to beat the starving inmates to death with a wooden stick. Between 1940 and 1942, the average weight of a KZ Gusen inmate was 42 kilograms (some of the inmates weighed only 28 to 36 kilograms). Between 1940 and 1942, the average survival period of KZ Gusen inmates was only 6 months!!!
Due to the armament projects, the average survival period increased in 1943 and 1944 to 9 and 12 months, but it dropped rapidly again in 1945 due to the many deportations from other camps. The KZ Gusen Pathological Museum The Pathological Museum was accommodated in Block 27 and was used to display 286 specimen of human organs that were produced at KZ Gusen in connection with the Medical Academy of the SS at the University of Graz. The photograph shows hearts, lungs, kidneys, faces, skeletons and skulls of murdered KZ Gusen inmates. In some cases, inmates were only killed by heart-injections because of their anatomical "anomalies" .
The Museum also had an album showing the tatooed skin of some of the inmates. Other "artwork" (lamp-shades and even furniture) was also produced in the Gusen camp. In 1944, three big crates with anatomical preparations were transferred to the SS Medical Agency at Graz. SS- Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Helmut Vetter As an employee of IG-Farben and Leverkusen, he carried out medical experiments with different sorts of medicine at KZ Gusen.
He specialized in tuberculosis and experimented in 1944 with "Ruthenol" and "Praeparat 3582" at Block No. 27 of KZ Gusen I. These were similar to his experiments at KZ Auschwitz. Dr. Herbert F. Heim Besides his private experiments, he specialized in the production of preparations of human heads. Some of these preparations were shown in the KZ Gusen Pathological Museum. The others were sent to friends of Dr. Herbert Heim as special gifts or were used by Heim as weights on writing desks. Dr. Eduard Krebsbach Between October 1941 and Autumn 1943,
he was Chief-Physician of the SS and the Police at Linz, Steyr, Wels and KZ Mauthausen-Gusen. He was the first to start mass-execution of ill and unfit prisoners by heart-injections. So he was nicknamed "Dr. Spritzbach" (Injection-Doctor) in the camps. In January 1942, 732 Spanish inmates and 571 Soviet inmates were exterminated by heart-injections at KZ Gusen Concentration Camp. In general, heart-injections were given at KZ Gusen Camp two times a week until April 1945. The career of Dr. Krebsbach ended at KZ Mauthausen-Gusen when
he shot Josef Breitenfellner, a young man from Langenstein-Village who served in the German Army at that time and was home for vacation. Krebsbach shot this German soldier May 22, 1943, on vacation from his private house because he was disturbed by Breitenfellner and his friends. Due to this crime, Dr. Krebsbach was moved from KZ Mauthausen-Gusen to KZ Warwara where he led the selections along with the liquidation of that camp in August 1944. Later, he worked as the Inspector for Epidemies in the occupied countries of Lettland, Estland and Lithuania. The following SS-Doctors refused to give heart-injections at KZ Gusen:
- Dr. J. Fried
- Dr. B. Adolph
- Dr. K. Boehmichen
Dr. Hermann Kiesewetter and Dr. Hermann Richter Carried out surgery on KZ Gusen inmates for no medical reason. To study the function of the human brain, Kiesewetter also carried out Trepanations with KZ Gusen inmates.
August Eigruber joined the NSDAP in 1927. In 1930, he became head of the Hitler Youth and party leader for the region of Steyr and, in 1931, leader for the city of Steyr. He became leader of the then illegal NSDAP for Upper Austria in 1936.
Eigruber was a particularly enthusiastic Nazi. He was on good terms with Hitler and Bormann and was successful in asserting his ideas about the rebuilding of Linz over the head of the official architect Roderich Fick.U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; The Nibelungen Bridge and the New World Order.
The Dupont Mission
The below narrative is the full and complete debriefing of Navy Lieutenant Jack H. Taylor, USNR, who lead the DUPONT Mission as a member of the OSS Secret Operations (SO) group. It is dated 30 May 1945. As you will note in the text below, the mission was launched on Friday, 13 October 1944 and ended on the evening of 5 May 1945, when LT Taylor was liberated from the Mauhausen POW extermination camp. This is a compelling narrative, whose original text was accompanied by photos and drawing. Ours is a many-times copied report, thus, we do not have copies of publishable photographs from which to draw. Many are extremely gruesome and could not be published even if we had them. No attempt was made to edit the story except for minor punctuation and commentary notes. No thought was given to condensing the story for fear of loosing any of the fascinating detail. The story is quite lengthy, but certainly worth the time taken to read.
As there were no known Partisan groups or resistance movements in Austria with whom to ally ourselves and as information from the Vienna area was of first priority, this area was chosen for the first American mission. Three volunteer Austrian Corporal POW, who had homes or contacts in this area were selected and Operation DUPONT was planned utilizing their local knowledge. All were in their early twenties, single, in excellent physical and mental condition and eager to participate. There was no question of their integrity.
Note: OSS assigned all partisans American pseudonyms. Post-war pseudonyms were adopted to protect OSS operatives and cooperatives fearing reprisals.
Perkins' home was in St. Margarethen (50 kilos south of Vienna) where he assured us we could find haven in an emergency. It would serve as a base from which to obtain information in the Wiener Neustadt area. [Perkins' post-war pseudonym was Anton Graf. None of our documentation portrayed his complete American pseudonym.]
Fred Grant had previously worked for a butcher named Buchleitner, in Stixneusiedel (20 km south of Vienna) and was engaged to his daughter. The two grandmothers of this family, who lived alone in separate houses, were 'guaranteed' by Grant to furnish permanent headquarters and radio-location for the mission. Again, Buchleitner could be depended upon to help in an emergency. [Grant's post-war pseudonym was Felix Huppmann.]
Ed Underwood. Underwood's home was in Vienna, his father a Captain in the Signal Corps of the Luftwaffe, but it was considered too dangerous and unnecessary to send any of our party into Vienna proper. He had many contacts in Vienna for information and he spoke good English. [Note: 'Underwood's' post-war pseudonym was Ernst Ebbing.]
The fourth member, Lt. J.H. Taylor, USNR, had 15 months operational experience in the Balkans including 14 sorties into occupied territory (emphasis added) and was a qualified radio operator.
With large-scale maps, air-photos, flak overlays and excellent local knowledge, a very thorough plan was evolved allowing for all emergencies. The drop pinpoint was a flat-cultured strip about two miles long by one-half mile wide on the northeast fringe of the Neusiedler See (40 km south of Vienna near the Hungarian border). The area was sparsely settled and bordered on marshy land with tall reeds, which would serve as excellent cover.
Of necessity, it had to be a 'blind' drop, i.e. without ground reception committee or pattern lights and with absolutely no circling. Three containers, two containing duplicate radio equipment, were to be dropped in salvo followed immediately by the four bodies. The height requested was the very minimum of 400 feet so that the chutes would be exposed the minimum time to searchlight and flak batteries in the area. The dark of the moon was also a necessity. The four bodies would rendezvous by imitating the whistle of a marsh bird to guide each other to No. 1 body, and then in line with the direction of flight we would comb the area back and forth for the containers. This plan, which was entirely abnormal, due to extremely hazardous conditions, as compared with normal Partisan drops, was based on my previous personal experience as Operations Officer, Bari, and several months ground reception experience in the Balkans. In retrospect, I cannot see where the plan could be improved upon.
Due to bad weather, the operation was scrubbed throughout the September dark-of-the-moon period and while waiting, an attempt was made to see the Briefing Officer or pilot at Brindisi for a mutual understanding of the plan and to impress upon them the totally different nature of the plan. This was not made possible and the attempt was resented vehemently by the Operations Officer, Bari, and to a lesser extent by the Conducting Officer, Brindisi.
The first clear weather over the pinpoint in the new moon period was on Friday, the 13th of October. The four members of DUPONT plus Capt. John McCulloch (Chief, German-Austrian Desk), who wished to go as observer, departed from Bari for Brindisi in a broken-down truck, no other transport being made available.
After drawing our chutes and jump suits, we ate a hurried meal, the Austrians shifted into Wehrmacht uniform, and we arrived at the plane, a Liberator named 'R for Roger,' manned by a Polish crew. The pilot spoke English and I explained the plan to him hurriedly. He had, as I expected, only been given the pinpoint and time of drop. Three extra containers containing arms and ammunition for Partisans had to be removed from the bomb racks at the last moment. This was all due to the fact that no one had informed the crew who 'bomb-up' with container that it was a blind drop with no reception, or Partisans.
Take-off was on time, at 1915. During the flight, the plan was checked with the Dispatcher and to my amazement he was expecting a 'normal' drop, i.e., bodies first, followed by circling and containers then dropped on ground-signal from the bodies. This was finally straightened out over the interphone with the pilot and we more or less relaxed again. The tail was hit by light flak, causing no damage, as we crossed into occupied territory. Underwood remembered that he left his five gold pieces in his GI clothes in Brindisi. Capt. McCulloch was notified so that he could pick them up on his return.
At 2215 we were 'Running In' and being number one, I could see the lake and patches of fog beneath us while sitting on the edge of the hole. Soon patches of land were seen, then 'Action stations' at 22:30. I saw one container chute open, 'Go' was given off, I saw Perkins' chute open and as I pulled down on my risers to check a bad oscillation, I looked below and saw to my horror that I would land on a roof of a house not more than twenty feet below. As I was slipping in that direction, I released the risers in order to drop straight down and barely missed the eaves, landing instead a few feet away from the house in the front yard. In the last few seconds, I caught a glimpse of a radio mast and as I hit the ground, I remember that the air-photo showed a radio station at the upper end of our two-mile strip. This was it, I was sure, and expecting a burst of M.G. (machine gun) at any moment, I wrapped up my chute and slunk away.
In a few minutes, I heard our birdcall signal; we rendezvoused according to plan, cached our chutes and jump suits and spread out for searching. To our amazement and chagrin, our plane returned and flew directly overhead in line with our previous run. In half an hour, we had found the first container, thanks to the attached luminous discs, as the white chute was invisible until practically stepping on it. We cached the container and chute in the reeds and continued searching. To our utter horror, our plane returned again, passing low directly overhead. This was practically signing our death certificates, as the German radar was so very accurate that circling over any area by a lone plane at night was bound to create suspicion and investigation. The plane circled to the left and was picked up by a searchlight followed by flak but he escaped by evasive tactics and continued on. The 'All Clear' signal was heard from Neusiedel as our plane finally returned to Italy.
I stepped in a hole in the marsh wrenching my knee badly, which made walking on uneven ground very painful, but we continued searching throughout the night and in desperation even into the dawn. From a hillock, we ventured to look out over the lake and marsh but could find no trace of the other two containers.
As dawn came, we found we had been dropped over a mile south of our pinpoint, and that the 'radio station' which I almost hit turned out to be a boat-builder's shop. A recee [reconnaissance] plane flew over low soon after but we were well hidden in the reeds. On opening the one container, we found no radio equipment whatever, and our mission seemed doomed to failure from the start. We discussed, in whispers, all the possibilities and decided that the other two containers had not been dropped. In retrospect, Perkins, who was standing behind us in the plane at the 'Go' signal, saw one chute open and in the bomb bay saw one of the crew kicking the other two containers which appeared to be stuck. This explained the circling and two extra runs. We decided to split the party, sending Grant and Perkins on to Stixneusiedel to make arrangements while Underwood and I remained for the possibility of another drop, and to continue searching in the night; also my knee was not fit for walking any distance.
We stood guard all day but saw nothing but an old man at the boat-builder's shop. Cows and sheep grazed nearby. We searched a new area unsuccessfully during the night and upon awaking from my first sleep in 48 hours, I found a medium-sized marsh snake lying alongside my sleeping bag.
Early in the morning of the third day (16th) Grant returned from Stixneusiedel on a bicycle, which he had cached some distance away, and approached our hideout through the reeds. Perkins remaining behind with blistered feet. We departed at 1700 through the reeds, picked up the bicycle and set out for Stixneusiedel 35 km away. Underwood became very ill after a few minutes, but continued on for another mile at my request until he could not longer keep up. We left him with his rations and water to return and wait at the hideout and continued past Neusiedel, where thousands of foreign (slave) workers were being herded for work on the Southeast Wall, a line of defense utilizing, in this area, the natural barriers of Neusiedler See and the Leitha Gob. Continuing past Jeis, Windem, Kaisersteinbruck (a large Russian POW camp), and Wilfleinsdorf, we arrived at Buchlietner's house about 0230 on the 17th.
We ate and went to bed but were awakened in about an hour and asked to leave because German troops were arriving in the village. As it was nearly dawn and we had no place to go, we begged to stay and were allowed to hide in the hayloft. Headquarters at either of the grandmothers was impossible because one was dying and the other was so feeble minded and childish that her security could not be depended upon. We requested a cart and horse to pick up Underwood, but Buchleitner, because of his black-market activities, was being shadowed when he left the village with his wagon and it was not deemed safe under the circumstances.
I inquired about Slovakia and found that one of the daughters, Annie, had a schoolmate friend at the Ceramic Institute in Vienna, who went home every weekend to the very district where the Partisans were active. Annie, who commuted every day to Vienna, reported that the girl was willing to take a message to Lt. Holt Green's mission via the Partisans in her home area. The message was written reporting our safe landing without radio and requested that a radio be dropped to us at the specific point. Unfortunately, the 15th Air Force was bombing Vienna heavily and had switched to non-military targets at times. When Annie went to deliver the message, she found that her friend had been killed in her apartment when a whole civilian apartment district was wiped out. There was no military target within a mile of this area. We tried unsuccessfully to make other contacts.
Buchleitner and family were devout anti-Nazis, as were 80 percent of the people in this vicinity, but in spite of a token of a few gold pieces and several hundred marks, he wished us to be on our way. This was the first demonstration of fear growing into terror, which we were to see several times later.
In the meantime, Grant and Perkins had gone to St. Margarethen, returning via our hideout near Neusiedel to pick up Underwood, but they were unable to find him.
Perkins, Grant, and I departed the evening of 19 October for Hornstein (41 km) to contact a café owner friend of Buchleitner, named Lasacovitch, a Croat, who was known to be a strong anti-Nazi. Word was left for Underwood to proceed to St. Margarethen if he arrived. Due to the distance to be covered, we took a chance and used side roads instead of fields and forests, consequently passing through 'Kontrols,' which we bluffed by saying 'soldaten' and 'heil Hitler.' We knew the Kontrols to be very old villagers, and as the nights were absolutely black at this time, we were able to slip by although it was ticklish.
At dawn, after walking all night, I remained in the woods outside Hornstein while Perkins and Grant contacted Lasacovitch, who informed them that he had just returned from a prison sentence and had a Gestapo 'permanent guest' in his home. He could suggest no one else trustworthy enough for a permanent hideout. Perkins and Grant proceeded to Stinkenbrunn and another village contacting various references, but all were unwilling to keep us permanently, although they were entirely friendly and willing to be hospitable for one night. We rendezvoused in the woods at dusk and proceeded to Hornstein were we spent the night and next day at Herr Jais' home. His son, a discharged Wehrmacht man from the Russian front, was a guard at the huge Blumen ammunition works employing 40 thousand, the largest in the Reich. (During my briefing before I left Italy, the 15th Air Force assured me and 'proved' with air-photos that Blumen had been completely destroyed.) Other excellent targets although smaller were described and noted. By this time, such excellent intelligence material had been collected, including bomb damage and targets in and around Vienna, also political and economic data. Jais' sister, a middle-aged woman, wept and almost become hysterical when I was introduced to her as an American officer. She was unusually intelligent and vehemently denounced the Nazis. She begged me to send for American or British paratroops, stating that 90 percent of all Austrians would assist. Others repeated this plea many times later. Another family was sharing her home but she was eager to help us in any other way.
We departed the next evening (21st) for St. Margarethen through the Leitha Geb (hills) to avoid two severe Kontrols, one with Wehrmacht or Gestapo personnel, and arrived at Perkins' home about 0200. The house was situated across the street from an ex-theater, which housed several hundred foreign (slave) workers, mostly Ukrainians, but including Poles, Czechs, French, Italians, etc., approximately 25 percent were women. They had practically nothing to eat and were the worst specimens of humanity I had ever seen. Here I saw and photographed the first Nazis with large swastika armbands, also Organization Todt officers that were directing the work on the Southeast Wall.
As we could not remain permanently at the Perkins' home, Perkins and Grant contacted several people in various localities, endeavoring to find a permanent hideout. They returned again to Buchleitner's in Stixneusiedel during the course of their trip and found Underwood, who was awaiting his mother from Vienna. She arrived the same day and, as Perkins and Grant returned to St. Margarethen, they understood that Underwood intended to go to Vienna. He did not, however, but joined us at Perkins' house where we all hid in the hayloft.
We discussed the situation thoroughly and decided that the quality and quantity of information collected warranted taking extreme risks in getting it though to Italy. We agreed that two men would remain in the area while two would attempt to cross the border to Yugoslavia in the Maribor area and, with the aid of Partisans, would contact an Allied mission, evacuate by air to Italy where material would be turned over, followed immediately by our return to Austria with radio equipment.
We delayed the above plan until Underwood's mother could try to get permission to go to Spittal near Villach for a short vacation. While there, she would attempt to contact Lt. Milas Pavlovitch's mission through the family of Steinwander, one of the members of the mission. She would deliver a similar message to the one intended for Lt. Green's mission in Slovakia, describing our predicament and requesting a radio drop, also reporting the highest priority targets. After our four days hiding in the hayloft, the Perkins family was terror-stricken and the father was drinking heavily. They said that their homes were to be searched by the SS for food for the foreign workers. We had no place to go but in desperation went to Schutsen (8 km) on the 25th and were hidden in the hayloft of a friend of Perkins, a Mathias Kaufmann (masonry contractor), but without meeting our host. Just before dawn, Frau Kaufmann woke us and requested that we leave before Kaufmann's employees arrived. It then became clear that Perkins had told the Kaufmanns that we were four soldiers that had missed our train and wished only to sleep a few hours and be on our way. Frau Kaufmann was very perturbed but her husband agreed that we could remain until night. That evening I talked to Kaufmann and begged him to allow two of us to remain in his hayloft for one week pending our departure to Yugoslavia if Underwood's mother was unable to travel to Spittal. He agreed and hesitatingly accepted a few gold pieces. Perkins and Grant contacted other references for a hideout but were unsuccessful. Perkins returned to hide in his home while Grant hid in the house of Perkins' aunt (Wilfinger). They were to report to me in four days but were to remain hidden otherwise.
Underwood's mother came from Vienna about 28 October and reported that it was impossible to obtain permission to go to Spittal, not because of transportation difficulty, but because all fit and capable women had to be available for drafting into war work. She had also attempted unsuccessfully to contact someone in the Vienna underground from which we might be able to find a permanent hideout. In the meantime, we had heard that the Yugoslav border in the Maribor area was heavily guarded by SS and that our only chance was through the Villach-Klagenfurt area, over 300-km away.
Underwood's mother wished to contact a friend in Vienna, Eddie Gerstenberger, an oilman, who had a summerhouse near Villach; from which direct Partisan contact could be made over the border. He was thought to have underground connections or at least to have information on the underground, which we were anxious to have for intelligence material. I was anxious to be away before the snow came as it was already freezing every night but the thirst for more information drove me to request Kaufmann for another week's delay. He assented, and in the meantime, completed data on fortified hills, anti-tank ditches, barbed wire, and mines fields, pillboxes, artillery sites, etc. At this time (1 Nov.) there were 50,000 foreign workers and several hundred Hitler Youth preparing this defense line under the direction of Organization Todt and E.A.D. It was expected to be finished by the middle of January.
Additional important targets were: a locomotive factory in Viener Neustadt, turning out one a day, a powder factory in Sinsendorf, employing 2000; a Nehrmacht lager in Vienna, containing all materials of war; an artillery school; flak school; numerous airfields and woods, where the German fighters were hidden when the American bombers came over; government food storage houses in Vienna, etc. Economic information included: wages for different types of work and additional food rations, complete ration data, black market, farmers food stocks, estimated coal and petroleum storage, true value of the mark in buying other than rationed merchandise, barter, etc.
Political information showed that approximately 2% to 5% of the farmers and villagers were devout Nazis, 10% to 15% were on the fence, and 80% anti-Nazi, with 50% rabid anti-Nazi. In Vienna, estimates were difficult because of the extreme Gestapo control, but it is safe to say that not more than 20% were strong Nazis and certainly 50% were rabid anti-Nazi. Later American bombing of non-military targets, particularly pure residential districts and the beautiful art gallery and opera house reduced the Anglo-Americanophiles to nil. It was very bad psychology and positively stiffened morale. The feeling among the Austrians, particularly the Viennese, was that the Allies were making no differentiation between the Austrians and the Germans, which did more to squelch budding resistance movements than the Gestapo. In the later months, coupled with the Russian atrocity stories, it actually united Austrians and Germans as never before and made possible a real Volksturn.
Later, in prison, I learned from other agent prisoners that their own homes and families had been bombed, including clandestine radio stations, in spite of requests for immunization for that particular block in a purely residential section.
The Viennese Communists made excellent anti-Anglo-American propaganda by calling attention to the fact that the Russians were fighting a 'clean' war on the battlefield against military personnel, while the Anglo-Americans concentrated on civilians (old men, women and children), their homes, and cultural and art institutions. 'The Russians are the only ones who do not bomb us.'
Underwood's mother returned to Schutsen, stating that Gerstenberger had agreed to help and, as he was leaving for Spittal anyway, he would make arrangements and explain everything on his return within a week.
About the first week in November, Perkins introduced an Austrian soldier, Alois Unger. Unger was on leave before going to an unknown front. He wished to desert and join us but I explained that it was impossible unless we could find Partisans with whom to ally ourselves. Unger stated he had two friends who would like to do the same. About a week later, he rushed through in the night with a note written by Grant, addressed to Maj. Chapin, HQ 2677th Regiment, Caserta, stating our predicament (no radio) and mentioning our intention of proceeding to Yugoslavia. Grant signed my name. His intention was to desert at the first opportunity to the Allies and deliver the message. I hesitated to send this but as the man already knew the contents of the note and could certainly report it verbally to the nearest Gestapo or Wehrmacht officer if I did destroy it, I felt that we could at least lose nothing more by it. As I had no papers and as he was already AWOL 12 hours and was anxious to be on his way, I signed my signature in ink over the pencil signature by Grant and told him to hide it in his Wehrmacht shoulder insignia and sew it back up.
The Wulka, a small stream passing immediately behind Kaufmann's property, was being widened into an anti-tank ditch by many hundreds of foreign workers and their Nazi overseers. We observed and photographed them at close range through a crack in the roof made by sliding a tile up. Early one morning I thought I heard swearing in English and, on sliding the tile up, we saw about 11 British POWs working on the railroad with no guard except the railroad inspector. We took turns watching all day, awaiting a chance for one of them to get near enough to speak to without the inspector, but the opportunity did not present itself.
A few days later, however, they were working on a stretch of the track immediately below our hayloft and when the inspector left momentarily we caught their attention. They were so surprised that it was difficult for them to conceal their excitement. We told them we were U.S. Air Force men who had bailed out and were on our way to Yugoslavia. They offered a map and good advice. They said they were not treated badly, extra food was issued for railroad work, their Red Cross packages were coming through regularly, and from what we saw they didn't strain themselves working. They were a work party from Eisenstadt where 200 similarly employed British POWs were housed.
Organization Todt officers came every day, and occasionally Wehrmacht officers, to drink Kaufmann's white wine and sometimes had to be carried out after drinking all day. In almost every village there was a group of French POWs assigned to farmers (one to a farmer) for day work, returning to their barracks under guard every night. One such French POW worked for Kaufmann, and we narrowly escaped being seen several times when he came to the loft for hay. All French POWs could not be trusted.
During this period, two trains of 26 cars each with approximately 6000 Hungarian Jews passed through on their way to lagers in Austria. They had had no food or water for three days and, when Kaufmann's daughter, who was a Red Cross nurse, took them a pail of drinking water, the guards (SS or SA) objected and told her that the Jews didn't deserve to be treated as human beings.
We listened to BBC and ABSIE on Kaufmann's radio almost every night and heard how Nazi Germany was crumbling, their communications were absolutely paralyzed, the Luftwaffe destroyed, of the critical gasoline and coal shortages, and how the people were on the verge of starvation. Actually, there was tremendous night traffic on the railroads and in the air, no coal shortage whatsoever, ample gasoline supply for all military, government, police and Party use. There was no gasoline for private civilian use, but some cars were fitted with acetylene cylinders and others with charcoal gas generators. Town and city folk were rationed on most staples, but not severely except meat and butter, while the farmers had plenty.
The Dupont Mission~Page 2
Gerstenberger sent word that all arrangements had been made but hoped that we would delay until his immediate return as he was anxious to meet us and explain more. About this time, an opportunity came for two of us to go with a shipment of machinery from a ball-bearing factory in Vienna, which was being transported, to Feldkirch near the Swiss border. Underwood would go as a civilian employee, and I would be encased in a box as machinery. A special train containing nothing else but personnel and machinery had been laid on for the trip, which was to take 36 hours. However, at this stage, Perkins particularly, and Grant to some extent, began to get jitters about remaining. They felt that if the Russians overran them before we could return to Austria, it would be impossible to explain their situation to their captors, and [that] there was a strong possibility they would be transported to Russia as POWs to work for years before returning. It was, therefore, decided that all would return to Italy, but in two separate parties and routes, i.e. Perkins and Grant, with proper papers, which we made out to suit the occasion, would go to the front in Italy via Udine and attempt to infiltrate through to the American lines, while Underwood and I would go as originally planned through Yugoslavia. This would afford two chances for the information to get through.
About the middle of November, Underwood's father, a captain in the Signal Corps of the Luftwaffe, returned to Vienna from upper Silensia, where he was stationed at a replacement depot awaiting reassignment. He came to Kaufmanns' to visit his son and immediately did all he could to help. He gave additional top priority targets in Obersilesia and begged for Allied bombers to strike at that district, which was the heart of the Reich's heavy industry and also had the largest percentage of fanatical Nazi civilians. He could not understand why such huge war industrial districts as Gleiwitz, Oppeln and Breslau were left untouched. I could only guess that it was out of range for Anglo-American fighter cover. He was a very intelligent and fine man as was his son and, I believe, a fanatical Nazi-hater. He was an attorney in civilian life and a member of the Christian Social Party. He wished to know why the Allies had not helped the Polish Partisans in Warsaw when they made their desperate but unsuccessful attempt to recapture their capitol in August. He was pleased to hear that the western Allies had sent 10 to 15 supply planes a night. I told him that any serious Austrian Partisan movement could expect the same assistance.
Gerstenberger phoned from Villach to Underwood's mother in Vienna telling her that he was returning immediately and begged us to wait a few more days. As the weather now was quite cold and snow had begun to fall in the mountains, we decided to take one extreme but short risk and go by freight train to Klagenfurt, which was on the main line to Italy. This, rather than walking over land which would require three weeks and entail numerous contacts with strange and untried people for food and shelter. Accordingly, I sent Grant to a former friend, Herr Baudisch, a train-dispatcher in Viener Neustadt, to make arrangements to hide us for a few hours until the proper train came along.
Grant returned the next night, reporting that Mrs. Baudisch and daughter, Erika, agreed, in the absence of her husband, to hide us temporarily. He gave us the address and a hazy description of the apartment house but intended to accompany us also. All due respect to Grant, he was terribly optimistic and inclined to over-estimate people's willingness to cooperate and, on occasion, told a few more or less harmless untruths to make our position look better. Consequently, when Underwood's father visited us a few days later and asked what he could do, I suggested he return to Vienna by way of Viener Neustadt to check the arrangements and if possible see Baudisch himself about the freight-train details. He wrote a note from Vienna, saying all arrange-ments were made but that Grant had positively not been to the Baudisch home. Grant's description of the dwelling was not accurate, and Mrs. Baudisch and Erika said they had not seen Grant since we passed through on the way to the Italian front almost a year before. I had not doubted that Grant had been to the home, but when confronted with this information the next evening, he did not deny it nor had anything to say in defense. As he had done a marvelous job otherwise, having done twice the work of anyone else, I did not press him. He had planned to leave in two more nights regardless of any further requests to delay from Gerstenberger.
We still had no permanent hideout to return to if we were fortunate enough to get through to Italy and come back with a radio, so I sent Grant and Perkins into the Hornstein area for one last search on the following day. They were to return on the following evening and we three (Grant, Underwood and me) were to walk all night the next night, arriving at Baudisch's home in Viener Neustadt just before dawn, intending to hide out during the day and catch the first freight out that evening. Grant and Perkins were to board the first passenger train for Udine and, with their Marsahbefehl for the Italian front, they were expecting no trouble.
On the day that Grant and Perkins went to Hornstein (30th Nov) I recovered my money-belt, camera, cipher pads, signal plan and crystals, which I had cached near the eaves and covered with hay some distance from our 'burrows' and packed them in a small kit bag. In retrospect, it is easy to blame myself for keeping the cipher pads, signal plan and crystals when no radio was dropped, but we were forever hopeful of receiving a drop or having one brought in by courier. By keeping these most secret appendages, the new radio, if captured in transit or on the drop, would be useless to the enemy.
The temperature was well below freezing every night and, as we had only one thin blanket, we slept in all the clothes we could find and burrowed deep in the hay. I had borrowed an old coat and trousers and wore them over my OD trousers and shirt with my field jacket over the coat; however, my collar insignia and black tie was plainly visible.
We climbed down from the loft about 1900 as usual for supper in a tiny room next to the manger. I had just finished shaving and unfortunately had shirt, tie and coat on, but not my field jacket. The watchdog barked; we snapped the light off as usual (Kaufmann had many visitors) and remained quiet. We heard the front gate open, followed by the door to the house. In a few minutes we heard someone come to our door, but as it was usual for one of the family to come and tell us when the 'coast was clear,' we thought nothing of it. Suddenly, the door was thrown open and eight plain-clothes men rushed in. We grappled for a few seconds, but I was forced back in the corner, beat over the head with a blackjack and while groggy had my arms pinioned behind my back. My left arm was then twisted backwards until the elbow joint was torn loose; such as you would the joint of a chicken leg. Four men were on each of us, and I realized the futility of further struggle. Blackjack taps on my head continued while my wrists were chained together behind my back, painfully tight, and locked with a padlock. The same had been done to Underwood who was held down under the table. He was bleeding profusely from several cuts on his head. Outside were two more men with Tommy-guns.Capture, Gestapo, and Vienna Prison
As soon as we ceased to struggle and our captors had a good look at us, one of them said to me, 'Ah, ein offizier,' as he saw my collar insignia. As I mentioned, after shaving I did not have time to put on my field jacket before being captured and was unfortunately caught in the old coat and trousers although my OD's were underneath. It was with great difficulty that I was permitted to bring along my jacket.
We were lead to the Burgermeister's office in Schutzen and, with our arms still chained behind us, we were slapped and kicked while being questioned. Although in opposite corners of a large room with our backs turned to each other, we could hear what was happening to the other. Kriminalrat Sanitzer, who directed the raid, did the questioning and intimidation. He pointed to my collar insignia and inquired what it was. 'Hauptmann,' (Captain) I answered, and received a heavy slap in the face coincident with the word: 'falsch' (false). This was repeated several times including kicking but each time I was questioned, I repeated the same. As I learned later, they were trying to make me admit that I was a civilian in uniform as they said the British used frequently. When Underwood was asked his name, he replied 'Underwood,' but after the same treatment for some time he gave his true name, and the Kriminalrat immediately stopped, saying 'that's better' or words to that effect, apparently knowing both our names beforehand.
While being intimidated and cursorily questioned, I noticed Herr Josef Preiler standing in an adjacent room. He was Kaufmann's best friend and we had had many interesting discussions. He was a very intelligent man working on administrative duties for that area of Burgenland and, like Kaufmann, had lost one son in the war and had one remaining still in the service. Both were listed by NSDAP as 'politically unreliable.' Preiler was ashen and struck dumb by what he saw and I was afraid he would give himself away. I heard later that he had committed suicide.
We were driven in separate sedans to Eisenstadt jail a few miles away and, while still chained, I was questioned by a woman interpreter. I gave name, rank, and serial number, but they paid no attention whatever and refused to write down my serial number off my dog tags. They wanted to know where the radio was, and when told that we had no radio, the 'intimidation' started again. Finally, they apparently believed our story but asked for the cipher pads, and described them in detail down to the waterproof cover that I had them encased in. I stated that they had been destroyed, but they said I had them two nights before and that I might as well tell the truth as they had picked up one of my boys in Wiener-Neustadt that day. What he was doing in Wiener-Neustadt when he was supposed to be in Hornstein four kilometers away in another direction, I could only imagine. When asked how many were in the party I answered, 'three' hoping to cover the last man.
Soon, the Kaufmann family was brought in weeping except for Frau Kaufmann; also our kit, which they had picked up from our hayloft quarters. Our arms were shifted from back to front and re-chained while we waited for the questioning of the Kaufmann family. After an hour or so, we were taken still chained to Wiener-Neustadt Gestapo Headquarters in two sedans with a Gestapo man sitting on my lap.
At Gestapo Headquarters in Wiener-Neustadt, we were stripped and given a very minute examination. All of the gold coins that I had sewn in my trouser seams were found and of course my money belt. Our clothes were taken away and civilian clothes substituted, which I refused to put on, because I expected them to photograph me as evidence to show that I had been captured in them. My left arm was so swollen and painful at this time that I had very great difficulty in getting my coat off. They asked me if I wished a doctor and said one would be provided when I was taken to Vienna in a few hours, but none was.
They asked many questions through Underwood about America, and it was clear that they had swallowed Goebel's propaganda whole. They were particularly bitter about American bombings and asked 'why' as long as they (Germans) had not bombed us. I explained that it was only because we were out of range and reminded them of their destruction in England. They also asked why were at war with each other at all, and I reminded them again that they had declared war on us, but tactfully added that
of course it was only because they were abiding by their treaty with Japan. When asked how long I thought the war would last, I guessed six months and they agreed, but when asked which side would win they laughed and ridiculed my answer. 'Did I not know that the Americans were retreatingfrom Aachen due to V-2' The Wehrmacht would soon show who was in control in the west.'
In underwear only, because I would not put on the civilian clothes, and with clumsy wooden shoes I was taken to Mortzinplatz IV Gestapo Headquarters in Vienna and placed in cell No. 5 on the mezzanine at 0500 on the first of December, even my shoe strings being removed so that I could not hang myself. I was not allowed to lie down, not to sleep, nor was any food or water allowed. Very strict guard control was exercised.
Later in the day, I was brought to the 3rd floor to Kriminalrat Sanitizer's office for interrogation but I refused to answer any questions until they returned my uniform. They threatened to 'give me the works,' but aside from twisting my already painful left arm and slapping me around, no real torture was instigated. Sanitizer's assistants, none of whose names I ever heard, although I will positively remember their faces, did the intimidation. The only other man whose name I heard was the 'assistant Kriminalrat' Anderle, who took no active part. After about three hours, they returned me to the cell and I had a pan of watery beet-soup, the first 'food' in 24 hours. At this time, I never expected to live another day and consequently slept very little.
The next morning I was again brought to Sanitizer's office and after a few minute's verbal sparring, they brought me my uniform, dog tags and shoes, which were heel-less from searching for a secret cipher or poison. I put the uniform on immediately and their whole attitude changed. They inquired about my arm and said they would have a doctor see to it but they never did. They offered cigarettes and brandy, both of which I declined, and tried to be friendly. I asked to be reported to the International Red Cross but they said it would have to 'wait a little.'
The interrogation lasted most of the day with a few hours lost due to an American air raid during which time we were chained in our cells. They showed a remarkable knowledge of OSS including names and had a diagrammatic relationship of OSS Theater headquarters to Washington. They were particularly interested in northern Italy and told me several things about the organization, which I didn't know, such as the establishment of a detachment at Cannes. Communications questions were mainly on procedure as they were very familiar with one-time pads and I had destroyed my 99 D.T. They brought out a 99 D.T. and asked me how it worked but I denied all knowledge of it and questioned their claim that it was American. I noticed, however that it had 'HOUSEBOAT' (the name of the mission) printed at the top, and I remembered that we had such a mission but couldn't place it geographically. They then proceeded to correctly explain the principal of the 99 D.T. In fact, they seemed eager to show me how much they knew. During this interrogation, I suffered no intimidation or torture although threatened several times. I requested better food and told them I expected to be treated the same as a captured German officer. They promised better food.
Mortzinplatz IV Gestapo Headquarters was located in the old Hotel Metropole in the center of Vienna near the canal. On the mezzanine floor were twelve cells, six on each side of the building with their windows cemented up to within a foot of the top and with bars well embedded. These 'windows' opened on an inner court but one could not tell day from night because they were painted over and a light burned in the cell 24 hours a day. The cells were soundproof rooms about 12 feet long by 7 feet wide with typical cell and door about 4 feet in from the outer door, thus limiting the actual 'living space' to 8 by 7 feet. The outer door had a peephole so that occupants could be observed unknowingly. Neckties, shoestrings, belts, razors (even safety), cigarettes, etc. were forbidden as were all reading matter and writing materials. One could write a note (pencil and slip furnished on request) between 0700 and 0730 to your 'Referent,' who would then determine whether to bother your Kriminalrat about it.
Prisoners arose at 0500 and after washing and making one's 'bed,' waited until 0800 for breakfast, which consisted of hot water (very diluted unsweetened ersatz coffee) and a thin slice of black bread. One must then sit on a stool but not sleep and must jump to attention whenever the 'Kontrol' made the rounds, usually about four times daily. Lunch consisted of very weak erpsin (beet) soup (no meat-broth, bone or other vegetable), about four tablespoons of vegetable stew such as erpsin, carrots or potatoes, and one thin slice of bread. For supper, one had the same stew and similar slice of bread. For Saturday supper, a small cube of cheese was substituted for the stew and for Sunday a small slice of wurst the size of a silver dollar was substituted. One was permitted to go to the toilet only at three specified times daily when there were two guards on duty and no prisoner ever saw any of the others. One guard paced the hall on which the cells faced and 'observed' at least twice a minute. The hall itself was also closed off with bars and door. None of the guards spoke a word of English but most were sympathetic especially when no S.S. or Gestapo was around. They were old Vienna police and had to carry out their orders or be sentenced to a concentration camp. On the orders of the Gestapo, certain prisoners were chained backwards to the bars in the cell with their toes barely touching the floor, others were permitted no 'food' for several days while others had their wrists chained together at night, etc. During air raids, all cell prisoners had their wrists chained and remained in their cells while the Gestapo personnel went in the basement air raid shelter.
On the 2nd or 3rd of December while in the Kriminalrat's office, I saw Underwood and Perkins in an adjoining room and later through the open doors of several rooms I had a glimpse of Grant. This was the last time I saw any of them although I kept tract as best I could through one of the more friendly guards. I also saw Underwood's mother and father but we didn't 'recognize' each other.
During the interrogation, I was asked how honest Grant and Perkins were, and replied that I had never known them to lie. The Gestapo said that Grant and Perkins had pleaded that they joined the OSS only as a means of getting back to Austria and the Wehrmacht and asked if I believed that was true. In an effort to cover Grant and Perkins, I told them that it was entirely possible that they had had this idea at first but had become fond of me after our landing and hated to turn me in. The Gestapo replied that they did not believe it and that Underwood was the only honorable one when he stated frankly that he did not approve of the National Socialist Party. They asked me if I knew that Perkins was a former SS man.
After about three days in the cell, I was taken to the top floor (5th stock) to a room with bars over the windows, which was occupied by a Hungarian General Anton Wattay (Tabornok Wattay Anton). He was Regent Horthy's War Minister and had been snatched by the Gestapo with Horthy in Budapest. He was preparing to surrender Hungary to the Russians. We were mutually suspicious of each other but we gradually became staunch friends and I began to learn some German although he spoke no English. During air raids, like the other prisoners on the top floor, we were taken to the air raid shelter in the basement to avoid being chained up, but I had to give my word of honor that I wouldn't try to escape during an alarm. We were under heavy guard always anyway. Here I met several occupants of other rooms on the top floor including a Bavarian Count, Graf Halter Von Birach who had 'donated' his castle to Ribbentrop; an Austrian deserter-volunteer from ISLD named Paul Pomerl, and a German deserter-volunteer from the French. The ten prisoners from other rooms on this floor were kept separated from us in the air-raid shelter, but in time I met and talked with them clandestinely. During December we experienced an average of three raids a week, not all on Vienna proper. The food was definitely better both in quality and quantity to that in the cells but it was still poor and meager. We received a thin slice of some kind of meat once a week and the ersatz coffee usually had a little sugar in it. All except Wattay and I (the only foreigners) had extra weekly rations of wurst, margarine and bread. Most of these prisoners also had relatives or friends in Vienna, who were allowed to bring them extra food once a week. We were fortunate to get their old stale black bread that we wrapped in a damp cloth to soften it enough to cut and then toasted it on our heater.
I slept very little the first two weeks, expecting to be executed every day, and my unattended arm was still very painful. In spite of the fact that my arm was green and blue and terribly swollen, neither doctor nor X-ray ever came although promised innumerable times. It was five weeks before I could use it to button my pants or tie my tie. I finally became resigned to my death and with the aid of Wattay, who was very religious, I prayed twice a day for my comrades and myself.
Count Von Sirach was released the day before Christmas and left a small wreath with candles to us. On Christmas Eve we lit it and tried to be happy but Wattay was so worried and nervous about his family in Budapest during the siege that he couldn't control himself. In trying to comfort him, I broke down myself, which was the only time during all my captivity.
During the raids, I was chafed about being bombed by my own people and when bombs would strike nearby the Gestapo became very serious and said, 'And those are your own bombs,' as if I'd made them with my own hands. I was resigned to my fate but not so the Gestapo to theirs. We followed the course of the bombers by radio as broadcast from a special air-raid station, the regular Vienna station normally signing off when the squadron approached within 100 km. There was also the 'flak-sender' (anti-aircraft radio station), which directed the ack-ack.
A map covering the area within a radius of 200 km of Vienna was divided into concentric circles with radii of multiples of 35 KM up to 200 KM. These circles were then cut into sections by 8 equally spaced radii and each section numbered.
These Luftshutzkarte were printed in the newspaper and also distributed as cards. The listener could, by listening to the radio and referring to the map number tell exactly where the flight was at 30-second intervals.
A sample bombing as it appeared to one on the receiving end went about as follows: at 1030 the radio was interrupted with a Coo Coo (Cuck-Cuck alarm) followed by a announcement that enemy bombers were over Carinthia and Stier provinces; (the German radar functioned up to 400 km) in 15 minutes when the flight approached to within 200 km, sirens all over the city sounded the 'Before Alarm' (Voralarm) characterized by the top pitch being broken twice during a 15-second period, thus: (A wavy line was drawn to visually depict the tone.)
This was the signal to prepare to leave for the air raid shelter (Luftschutzraum) giving approximately 40 minutes until the bombers were overhead. In approximately 20 minutes the 'Air Alarm' (Fliegeralarm) announced the flights at the 100 km mark characterized by an undulating siren: thus: (A long line was drawn to visually depict the siren.)
This was the signal to leave immediately for the air raid shelter as bombers could be expected overhead in 20 minutes. Radio VIEN went off the air with the warning 'Acute air danger for Vienna,' and the air raid station took over as mentioned. The groups usually rendezvoused outside the ack-ack zone, the first groups circling until joined by later flights, sometimes as much as an hour, and then lined up for the bomb-run. On the run in over the periphery of Vienna, intense heavy ack-ack was thrown up and when overhead, the motors could be plainly heard. Bomb detonations in rapid succession were heard as dull thuds or terrific jarring blasts depending on the vicinity. (During the heavy 15 January 1945 raid, one bomb hit the foundation of our building and blew in the next room killing two and injuring many. We were all thrown to the floor and covered with plaster). Similar intense heavy flak was heard as the group passed over the periphery on the way out. This was repeated as group after group passed over, sometimes as many as 15 participating. Listeners were kept informed almost constantly as to the exact position of the groups. When the last group passed over the 100 km mark going home, the 'Before end of the warning' (Vorentwarnung) siren was sounded which was characterized by the same pattern as the 'Before alarm', thus: (A wavy line was drawn to visually depict the alarm.)
Approximately 20 minutes later as they passed over the 200-km periphery, the 'End of the warning' (Entwarnung) siren was sounded which was characterized by a continuous top pitch for 30 seconds, thus: (A line was drawn to show the siren.)
The Viennese were very disturbed and the Gestapo was so bitter about the Vienna bombings particularly the pure civilian districts, opera house, etc., that I felt we might capitalize on their fear and anxiety. I reasoned that the policy of residential district and non-military target bombing was not popular, particularly in Austria, with the US Air Force and if even a slight reason could be shown why it was detrimental, I felt they might cease. I do not refer to the civilian destruction due to near misses around a target area, but to the deliberate concentrated bombing in pure residential districts and cultural institutions such as the opera house, museum, etc.) Consequently, I made the Gestapo a proposition to spare the lives of my three Austrian comrades in trade for a guarantee from the 15th Air Force that they would limit themselves to military targets in the Vienna area. Near misses around such targets were agreed to be unavoidable. Inasmuch as they had proven to me during the interrogation that they were familiar with our one-time pads and procedure I saw no security violation in proposing to get in contact by radio with Bari explaining that we were captured and offering the proposition. The Gestapo turned it down as preposterous and said I only wanted to inform my people that we were captured so they could warn other groups.
About 17th of January, General Wattay was suddenly taken away from Vienna and another prisoner, Paul Pomerl (an Austrian ISLD agent captured in northern Slovenia) was moved in with me bringing his radio. The short-wave band did not function so we could only listen to local stations. All Allied stations were 'hashed' by German interference on this standard band but after a few days, I enjoyed Pomerl's confidence enough to work on the radio while he listened at the door. The changeover switch was fixed 'haywire' and with a small piece of magnet wire for an antenna, we tuned in on short waves.
The very first station had Vice-President Wallace giving the oath of office to Truman, and a moment later the President was heard being sworn in by a Chief Justice. It was a real thrill. For the next few days we took turns listening at the door while the other listened to news from BBC, ABSIE, Moscow, and several American stations. The best of the old police guards, Herr Meister Egger, came to the door several times while on duty to hear the program 'Americka sprecht mit Oesterreich' (America speaks with Austria) from New York. He would have come more often but he could not trust the other prisoners for reasons explained later. He and one other Meister were outspoken (to me) anti-Nazis and when no one was looking he would give me a 'regular' (non-Nazi) salute.
According to Egger, only three of the twenty police were regular Vienna police, most having 20 to 30 years service, and not S.S. or Wehrmacht. With the exception of the above-mentioned three, they were all kind and sympathetic when alone with us, however, very strict Gestapo control was exercised over them. Two of the Meisters had sons who were POWs in America and showed me letters from them saying they were well treated and had good food, etc. Pomerl spoke good English and I first learned about the other 'top-floor' prisoners from him. Unfortunately, he was taken away after about 10 days but I gradually collected bits of information about them over a period of three months.
They were all captured Russian agent radio operators except one who was British SOE. Most were Viennese Communists, one Stuttgart; two were Russian (man and wife) and the British agent from Graz. There were five women and four men and the longest captured was 28 months. They had all parachuted into various sections of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Austria, and had worked from one day to almost one year before being captured. To save their lives, they operated their radios in daily contact with Moscow; also ciphering and deciphering all messages.
A radio room on the top floor was in charge of a Gestapo operator who supervised and monitored each transmission. They used their own Russian or British 'field' sets. Mr. Lander, a Wehrmaht Feldwebel in civilian clothes, handled all double-agent correspondence, and attempted to lure couriers from Russia into his traps. He was a young, intelligent, well-educated, Viennese engineer who designed underground shelters, etc. before becoming associated with the Gestapo. His wife was a Parisian dentist and they had lived in Paris until just a few days before the American occupation. After the 15 January raid, when the basement was hit, all Gestapo and 'top-floor' prisoners except a few Meisters and me were taken to the regular air raid shelter on the catacombs under the city during the raids.
For the next two months I was in absolute solitary confinement, only seeing and speaking to other people during the air raids. I had severe dysentery and much loss of blood the last two weeks of January, and although medical attention or medicine was promised daily, neither was ever forthcoming.
The Dupont Mission~Page 3
One day during February, a very small man from Berlin with crooked teeth interrogated me, and accused me of being an Englishman by the name of Major Taylor, whom they believed to be the head of the Hungarian desk in some British organization. They had captured a Canadian agent, in Hungary presumably; who said that an American Captain Taylor had briefed him and later, they had apparently captured part of a Hungarian-British mission, but a Major Taylor had escaped. The fact that my name was the same, and I had jumped near the Hungarian border, led them to surmise that I was the same man. When asked how I could prove I was an American, I could only think of checking my name and serial number through the International Red Cross and my American accent.
By the middle of February I had lost so much weight and had long ago stopped exercising because it made me too hungry. About this time I succumbed to pneumonia with very high fever. At least twice a day for four days I asked for a doctor and medicine and was assured that one would come 'sofort,' but none ever came. Through a friendly guard I was able to get a package of sulphanilimide from one of the other prisoners, who had stolen it from my confiscated medical kit, and I have no doubt that this medicine helped to save my life.
One of the women prisoners Louisa Souchek, was allowed to come into my room at intervals and change the cold towels on my head. She was a wonderful nurse and made me feel much better. We became good friends and when she decided to trust me, I learned many interesting points about the Gestapo, Russian agents, Viennese moral, etc.
About the first of March, during one of the daily raids, a heavy bomb destroyed one side of our building including the Kriminalrats' offices. We were immediately moved out to a villa near Turkestein (sp) Park, as our undamaged rooms were the only ones available. This villa was formerly owned by Herr Messner, head of the Saperfit Rubber Co. (Austrian-American Rubber Co.) and had been confiscated from him while he was a Gestapo prisoner. I was to have been returned to the cells on the mezzanine, but because I was still quite sick, they allowed me to go with the 'special' prisoners.
The radio station was set up in the villa and everything proceeded as before. Here I was able to see the Russian field sets and learn a little about their cipher. Louisa informed me that she was sure that Moscow knew that five of the 'stations' including hers were operating under Gestapo supervision. At the direction of the Gestapo, she had sent me messages requesting a courier and Moscow had replied affirmatively giving the time and place of arrival. The Gestapo had set an elaborate trap but nothing happened and they were frantically trying to get an explanation from Moscow. It was very amusing and she kept me informed on the correspondence.
None of the other operators knew what was going on, and I have often wondered why she trusted me with such dangerous (for herself) information. She had been an active Viennese communist for 10 years before the war and her husband had last been heard of with the Russian Partisans. She believed all operators would be executed at the last moment before the Russians arrived and, when I tried to comfort her, she explained, 'I have no fear, I am a Communist.' She felt that I might have a chance because I was captured in uniform but the Gestapo had previously told me that it made no difference because I was a spy and the leader of a group of traitors. Our case was being tried in Berlin and the verdict was expected soon. I memorized her code name and sister's name and address so I could renew the contact after the war if we were fortunate enough to live. She would be an excellent source. Louisa stated that Kriminalrat Sanitzer had asked her to work with him underground after the new government was formed. 'After all,' he said, 'Communism is the practical application of the National Socialist ideological theory.' 'We will see,' she said.
We went under S.S. guard through the park to a private air raid shelter during the daily air raid but thousands of people used the railroad tunnel under the park. When well enough, I sawed and split firewood and pruned trees around the Messner villa under SS guard but they were entirely different from the old police at Mortzinplatz. It was the first time I'd seen the sun in five months and the 'special' prisoner food was far superior to anything previous, although meager.
On 15 March after one week at the villa, I was awakened in the night and told to get ready to leave. This was the end, I thought, but no one would tell me anything. I was returned to the cells in Mortinzplatz and assigned to cell No. 6 with two others. As usual, we were mutually suspicious and they were especially so when during the daily raids I was taken to the air raid shelter in the basement while they were chained up as I had been before. I was asked no questions and they gradually thawed. Erich Bitterman, 35 years, tall, dark and handsome, Rumanian, former 1st Lt., in the King's Guard, married to a Hungarian baroness, owner of a large estate outside Bucharest which supplied big shot Nazis in Berlin with the finest food. Erich, a Volksdeutsch SS Untersturmfuhrer was kept busy shuttling back and forth from Berlin by special transport plane, supplying food and luxuries.
He was later taken by the Gestapo during an anti-Nazi putsch and in an SS officers' prison near Kustrin where he was treated very well in comparison to Mortzinplatz. As the Russians neared, he understood that they were all to be executed and successfully escaped by lowering himself from a third story window with blankets tied together. Speaking perfect German, he had managed to get to his home in Vienna only to be picked up with false papers a few days later. His address was Wien IV, Argentinastrasse 29, Palais Toscana.
Otto Schmeisser, 30 years, medium height, light kinky hair, husky, part Jewish, former Customs official before the war and Oberfeldwechel in charge of searchlight crews in the Vienna area. In October 1944 he arranged with a sergeant friend of his to witness his 'drowning' in the Danube while he crawled out on the bank some distance below. Here he dressed in railway inspector's uniform and with proper papers disappeared into the underground unknown to his wife. He worked for several months on propaganda leaflets, small sabotage operations, etc. and was in the act of getting arms, ammunition, 3000 ration books, etc. distributed to an underground Partisan movement who in conjunction with volunteers from the Wehrmacht, Vienna police and Volksturm intended to carry out an anti-Nazi putsch which they had good reason to believe would be joined by the Wehrmacht. The Gestapo took several high-ranking Wehrmacht officer accomplices at the same time. As was the case in all Viennese resistance movements, Gestapo agents made themselves integral parts of these organizations and did excellent work for them sometimes for several months, as in Schmeisser's case, before turning them in. His movement was not a 'party' affair but a patriotic Austrian anti-Nazi interest. His home was in Bablitxbel Vien, No. 201.
I learned that a newly captured Wehrmacht lieutenant Russian agent and I had changed places, he going to the Villa to work Moscow and I coming to cell 6. In a few days, we were joined by a new prisoner, Engineer Wilhelm Modess, a naval architect, and one of the finest men I've ever known. He was married to a Jewess who escaped with her father to Buenos Aries just before the Nazis took over and both left large interests in Modess' name. In six years, the Nazis had systematically stripped him of every piece of property and business by keeping him in Gestapo custody at intervals, which were simultaneous with court actions confiscating his property. He was not allowed to appear in court or have representation because he was a Gestapo prisoner. At the conclusion of the 'legal' confiscation he was released and would be free to go about his normal business until another piece of his property was wanted. He was working against the Nazis but he was so careful, that they could never pin anything definite on him.
Toward the end of March, a woman doctor (M.D.) was brought into Cell 3 and as was the custom, every personal article including eyeglasses was withheld. After several days, another woman prisoner was placed in her cell that had better eyes and discovered that the doctor had lice. The doctor was horrified and begged for her glasses so that she could pick them from her garments, but her pleadings were unheeded. There was no opportunity to bathe or wash clothes. About the same time, another woman, Martha Russ, was brought in and had to have her wrists chained behind her back to the bars so high that she could barely touch the floor. In the night, through exhaustion, her feet slipped out from under and she was left hanging. Her screams were horrible. Later, I got possession of the order for the mistreatment of Martha Russ signed by her Kriminalrat (not Sanitzer). Toilet paper was non-existent and we were rationed to three small pieces of newspaper or scrap paper. I always read the scrap paper first and to my surprise found the above order torn in two. It had been written on the back of a useless mimeographed sheet to save paper and when the Meister handed it to me, he saw only the one original mimeographed side. The order directed the Meister to hang Martha Russ by her wrists every night, no food for three days, and not to bother the Referrent with any requests.
The Russians were 50 km away and moving fast and we had hopes of being overrun before we could be evacuated or executed. At 0300 on 31 March we were awakened and told to prepare to leave immediately. Thirty-eight of us were moved under heavy SS guard (10 guards with Tommy guns and rifles) from Vienna to Enns (Near Linz) by train. I was terribly surprised to see the West railroad station absolutely untouched by bombs and everything functioning normally, also the yards were full of coal cars. Farther out, in the yards there were evidence of heavy bombing but all tracks were intact and functioning.
The train was filled with refugees and we stopped twice enroute during air raids; once in a tunnel and once in a cut where all the passengers and train crew except us, fled into the woods. Schmeisser and I planned to jump out the window at night while two of the taller men stood up in the doorway of the compartment to conceal our movement. At the last moment Schmeisser backed out saying his wife and child would be murdered if he escaped. I had the window partially open and blamed myself a thousand times later for not going ahead alone, but due to American bombings, the entire civilian attitude towards Americans had changed so that it was questionable whether anyone would take one in alone. With an Austrian speaking that particular dialect it was a 50-50 chance. On the train I met Dr. Hans Becker, whom I had spoken to once in the cells but never seen before. As we talked, Becker had served a sentence in Mauthausen around 1941 and warned us of the conditions, saying it was definitely worse than Dachau, which he also attended. We arrived at Enns at 0400 and marched 8 km to Mauthausen, crossing the Danube by ferry just past dawn. We could see, on the hill, the lights of the most terrible Lager in all Germany, which was to become our last home until execution.Concentration Camp Mauthausen
(Konzentrations' Lager Mauthausen)
At dawn on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, our 10 SS guards and we 36 prisoners crossed the Danube ferry at Mauthausen, and climbed the hill past the rock-quarry. Several prisoner work parties (Arbeit Kommandos) under heavy SS guard passed by on their way to the quarries. They were the most terrible looking half-dead creatures in filthy ragged stripes and heavy wooden shoes and as they clanked and shuffled along the cobblestones, they reminded of a group of Frankenstein's. We kidded ourselves saying we would look the same in a few days, but we were all struck with cold dread terror.
Above us we could see the high stone wall with electric fence on top and to our left below the regular camp were a group of low windowless buildings, which were originally barns for horses, later for Russian POWs and at this time serving as a 'hospital' (Krankenlager, Sanitateskager or Russian lager. We arrived at a group of buildings just outside the main entrance and were turned over to the Mauthausen SS who didn't waste any time intimidating us. SS Unterscharfuhrer Hans Prellberg was particularly brutal as he slapped, punched, kicked and beat most of us over the head with a cane belonging to a crippled Slovak in our group. Two young Russians and a Hungarian were unmercifully beaten because they did not understand German. All commands were given in German and I had to keep extremely alert to save myself similar beatings. We were told certain rules and regulations, the penalty being instant death on all except one, which was merely hanging the victim by his wrists chained behind his back. This slight penalty was for failure to stand at attention and remove one's cap whenever an SS man, regardless of rank, passed or when speaking to an SS man. When the next group of new prisoners, following us, were having the same rules and regulations announced to them, the speaker said: 'and if you attempt to escape and are recaptured, and you will be shot immediately, like this,' and simultaneously pulled his pistol and shot an old prisoner standing near, who had just been recaptured after an attempted escape.
We were marched through the main gate and lined up outside the shower room where we were individually questioned, slapped, slugged, and beaten with a stick by three SS men in relays for approximately three hours; in addition, some were spat upon. The worst to me was SS Unterscharfuhrer Hans Bruckner who screamed 'you American swine' every time he struck me. He also beat unmercifully a Lt. Glauber, an ISLD agent (Viennese-born, British citizen) mainly because he was a Jew. I had not seen Glauber since the night he was captured in February when I was called to Kriminalrat Sanitizer's office and introduced to him. We were told to talk to each other, which we did without saying 'anything'. Now, he had lost much weight and remarked the same about me.
We were marched to the bath, stripped, and all our belongings confiscated, except three wristwatches and a wedding ring which we were able to slip to a Polish Kapo. (Kapos were head prisoners of a work detail). All hair was shaved from our bodies, lice inspected, etc., and after a hot shower we were given only an old suit of ragged underwear. We never saw our clothes again and were led out into the cold barefooted where we stood at attention and shivered for over an hour before being marched to our barracks, Block 13. This S.O.P. was not changed even during the most severe part of the winter when men stood barefooted in the snow. LT. Glauber and three others, who were badly in need of medical treatment, went to the hospital. Glauber told me that when the Czech doctor found out that he was a British officer, he winked at him and said he would put him in the hospital for a couple of months where he would not have to work. Glauber was very happy and we said goodbye warmly. One of the other three was a small Sudetan German who was a mass of bruises from head to foot and also had several festering sores from Gestapo cigarette butt burns.
We received our first food in 48 hours and later were assigned our prison numbers, two of which were stamped on cloth with the appropriate colored triangle indicating political or criminal prisoner and citizenship and one stamped in metal for a wrist bracelet. The cloth numbers were sewn on the left breast of the coat and the outer side of the left trouser half way to the knee. All three numbers had to check before the food would be issued. In addition, if the prisoner was not wearing stripes, he had a rectangular hole cut in the middle of the back of his coat and also just below the number on his trouser leg; these spaces were filled in with a rectangular piece of 'stripes' so that if an escaped prisoner cut off his stripes, he still had the tell-tale rectangular holes.
Nationalities were not segregated and in Block 13 we had all nations in Europe and the Balkans represented except Albania and Turkey. Approximately one-fourth were Russian POWs. All non-German prisoners had a stripe (strasse) shaved down the center of their head leaving short bristles on each side.
After two days, we began by devious means to get wooden shoes and old trousers or shirts; until then we walked around in the cold and mud barefooted and clad only in ragged underwear. Within a week I had, though friends, collected a full compliment of assorted rags for clothes.
There were 25 prisoner barracks each normally designed for 220 men, i.e., 70 triple-decker single bunks plus 5 double-decker singles, but at this time holding nearly 400 each. This was increased to almost 600, which made it necessary for three to 'sleep' in each single bunk. Toilet and hygienic facilities were proportionately inadequate.
When the camp was first established, many German criminal prisoners were inmates and from these murderers, thieves, forgers, etc., the SS chose the barracks heads (Blockeldesters). It was their duty to rule with a ruthless and heavy hand all fellow prisoners in their barrack. Criminal pugs that used their fists, blackjacks, sticks, rubber hoses and razor straps to maintain 'order' assisted them. During the assembly for roll call twice a day, these degenerates demonstrated their professional ability to the SS and Deutsch Kultur to their fellow prisoners.
Stealing was practiced on a scale, which cannot be imagined, and one had to carry with him at all times his total belongings. The net result from all stealing 'organisiert' was food, as one could not support life on the regular prison 'food.' Stealing was therefore a matter of life and death for most and practiced almost unanimously.
We slept in our clothes not for warmth but to keep them from being stolen. Prisoners who could 'organize' a topcoat or raincoat and at night slept on it for a pillow would invariably wake to find it missing and rarely were able to recover it. I had two pair of 'shoes' stolen from under my mattress at different times while sleeping and recovered one pair. Modess, my bunkmate slept in his boots and actually caught a man trying to pull them off. On unusually cold nights, there was heavy nocturnal traffic in blankets. The blankets, incidentally, were collected each morning and redistributed at random each night, thereby spreading lice and fleas from a few to all.
Modess and I bunked together and were later joined by a Russian. Beneath us were two French lieutenants, Maurice and Albert (Poupee) and Vojtechkrajcovic, governor of National Bank Bratislava, head of the Economic Institute Bratislava and a continentally renowned economist. This trio was captured in Yugoslavia, enroute from Bratislava to the Allies in Italy, bearing important documents from the Slovakian Government. Above us were two Germans and one Russian. During the first week, I heard of a number of Americans in the camp but on running down the rumors found that most were Europeans who had spent some time in America and returned. There were however three other Americans:
Miss Isabella (or Carlotta) Dien or (Dean) captured in France, interned in Ravensbruck, and evacuated to Mauthausen in February 1945 on the approach of the Russians. Through friendly Czechs, she was assigned to the laundry where she was able to get some extra 'organisiert' food but her health broke and she was placed in the Viener Graben women's 'hospital' outside the camp. It was impossible to slip her any extra food and she grew steadily worse.
Sgt. Louis Biagioni, ASN 12185480, OSS SI agent captured in northern Italy in summer 1944 and held for some months by Gestapo in Italy, then transferred to Mauthausen. On December 26th, he was taken to Linz, tried, condemned to death and returned to Mauthausen. He split wood in the garage while awaiting his execution.
Lionel Romney, Negro fireman, U.S. Merchant Marine, 'S.S. Makis' sunk off Pantelleria 17 June 1940, captured by Italians and interned eventually in Mauthausen. He did lumberjack work in the forest for which he received extra food.
There were two British officers; Captain John Starr, SOE, captured in France 1943 and through a series of remarkable circumstances eventually arrived at Mauthausen. 1st Lt. Toni Speare, RAF fighter pilot, downed in France, spring 1944, and captured in civilian clothes while trying to escape through the French underground. He was suffering from boils and temporary loss of sight and voice. Neither was forced to work. Both were fine types.
Food consisted of flavored hot water (very dilute unsweetened ersatz coffee) at five for breakfast. Lunch was one liter of erpsin (beet) soup, much thicker but less palatable than in Vienna. Supper was 1/10 to 1/17 kilo of black bread. The bread was composed of wheat flour, ground potato peelings, sawdust and straw. On Sunday, in addition we received a slice of margarine or a tablespoon of cottage cheese.
Until 1945, a camp brothel was run for the convenience of the prisoners, who were rationed to one experience weekly. All the women were diseased. The SS had their own private brothel and the officers their 'kept' girl friends.
As mentioned before, during my four moths in Vienna, I had lost much weight and vitality (estimated weight 130 lbs.) and was therefore in much worse condition for manual labor than the other 37, who were comparatively new prisoners. In Mauthausen we were all forced to work as soon as we got something approaching shoes and many of our group were assigned to the Kommendo repairing the railroad and highway around Enns. This was heavy and continuous pick and shovel work for 12 hours with 1/2 hour off for lunch (1-liter arpsin soup) and included a 16-km round-trip march to end from work. Most of our groups were high-class professional men and the strain of misery of this type of work at first, can be imagined. All 'outside' Kommandos such as this one had a minimum of one guard for every four prisoners, three-quarters of the guards carrying machine pistols (Tommy guns) and one-quarter rifles.
The Dupont Mission~Page 4
I was not eligible for work outside the outer chain of guards because, as I learned later, of my execution sentence. I was assigned to work in the new crematorium where I carried sand, cement and water and mixed cement for the Spanish tile layers. The Spanish Kapo Jacinto was kind to me and we were protected from the rain and cold, consequently I tried to get my friends on with me. I succeeded in getting Modess (my bunk-mate) and Garaf (Count) Orsic with us for a few days but a Yugoslav partisan working with us took particular delight in hounding Orsic who was a Croat. This same animosity was demonstrated frequently between Yugoslav Partisans and Royal Yugoslav Army members and, towards the end, when a few former Spanish 'Blue Division' members were interned, the Spanish Loyalists (oldest prisoners in the camp) vehemently denounced them and did their best to taunt them into committing suicide on the electric fence.
We dawdled at our work to delay completion of the crematorium because we knew that the number of executions would double when cremation facilities were available (No gassed or shot bodies could be buried because of evidence) but one Saturday morning, Prellberg and S.S. Hauptscharfuhrer Martin Roth (head of the crematorium) belabored Kapo Jacinto for his failure to finish the work quickly and informed him that it must be finished and ready for operation on the following day or we (workers) would be the first occupants of the new ovens. Needless to say, we finished the job in the allotted time. The next day, Sunday April 10th, 367 new Czech prisoners, including 40 women, arrived from Czechoslovakia and were marched through the gate straight to the gas chamber and christened the new ovens. Black oily smoke and flames shot out the top of the stacks as healthy flesh and fat was burned as compared to the normal pale yellow smoke from old emaciated prisoners. This yellow smoke and heavy sickening smell of flesh and hair was blown over our barrack 24 hours a day and as hungry as we were, we could not always eat.
I had terrible dysentery and innumerable small sores on my legs and back but I continued to work as best I could to prevent being put on the sick-list and transferred to the 'hospital' (Sanitatslager) where, believe it or not, five sick people were assigned to each single bunk, rations were half 'normal' and infinitesimal amounts of medicine were supplied. Very few ever returned alive from this 'hospital' and the daily death toll at this time from pure starvation was 400 to 500.
These were dumped in a huge mass grave on the hill already containing 15,000.
My next job was carrying large soup kettles (110 lbs. each) about 1/2 mile to the neighboring Hungarian Jew Camp (Zeltlager) but still inside the outer cordon of guard posts and barbed wire. Each kettle was carried by its side handles by two men, and I received several bad beatings because I could not support the weight on my injured left arm. We were beaten severely and often with sticks by the SS and camp firemen while staggering along under the weight.
When afforded an opportunity, we dipped our ever-handy spoons under the lids and managed several mouthfuls of extra soup in this manner. These Jews were not regular prisoners as we; their only crime being that they were Jews. There were between 15 and 18,000 who managed to walk 8 days without food but after arriving none were strong enough to transport their own soup. (See enclosed list, 'Jews in the Tent Camp,' over 3,000 by name.) All those who dropped out enroute were disposed of immediately.
About the middle of April, I was transferred to Block 10, which was occupied mainly by Czechs and Poles with a few Russians, Germans and Austrians. We slept only two to a single bed and my job was changed to gardening just inside the electric fence. Most of the Block 10 prisoners were old-timers, and consequently had good positions through which by devious means they obtained extra food. Bread, margarine, potatoes and occasionally horsemeat, cereal and schnapps were obtainable through the black market. Czechs, Austrians and Hungarians were allowed a few packages from home until March. The two French Lieutenants (Maurice and Albert), Krajcovic and I had received bread and margarine for our watches and ring at the rate of two loaves of bread and 1/2 kilo margarine for each Swiss watch. Divided four ways, this food lasted a week. In Block 10, I collected and boiled potatoes peelings and scraps from the more fortunate prisoners but our bread ration was reduced daily.
I had, in the meantime, met many fine men: Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Yugoslavs, Hungarians, Austrians, French, Belgians, Dutch, Spaniards and even a few Germans. To get some idea of the caliber of some of the men, the situations may be likened to a hypothetical purge of the leading Republicans in the U.S. by the Democrats. Not only were there leading members of Congress, and the military but also of art, culture and science. Many of these men said to me, 'We're sorry you're here, but, IF you live, it will be a very fortunate thing; for you can tell Americans and they will believe you, but if we try to tell them, they will say it is propaganda.' Every nationality trusted me because I was an American where they couldn't trust their own people entirely due to stool-pigeons. Consequently, I was the recipient of hundreds of eyewitness atrocity accounts with first hand evidence in many cases. It was too dangerous to take notes, but I tried to keep mental account of the teller and enough of the story to remind him later when and if the opportunity came to set down the details and get them sworn to. I had seen only a small percentage of the torture, but brutality and murder that these men had seen and suffered, but on this basis I was prepared to believe their stories 100%, in mostcases. After all, the acts were themselves so terrible that anything worse could hardly be imagined.
The following examples taken from the enclosed sworn statements are in addition to the normal methods of execution, i.e., gassing, shooting, hanging, etc. Clubbing to death with wooden or/iron sticks, shovels, pick-axes, hammer, etc; tearing to pieces by dogs trained especially for this purpose; injection into the heart or veins of magnesium-chlorate, bezine, etc.; exposure naked in sub-zero weather after a hot shower; scalding-water shower followed by cow-tail whipping to break blisters and tear flesh away; mashing in a concrete mixer; drowning; beating men over a 150 foot cliff to the rocks below; beating and driving men into the electric fence or guarded limits where they are shot; forcing to drink a great quantity of water then jumping on the stomach while the prisoner is lying on his back; freezing half-naked in sub-zero, buried alive; eyes gouged out with a stick, teeth knocked out and kicked in the genitals red hot poker down the throat, etc., etc., etc.
According to Dr. Podlaha, the head prisoner doctor, prisoners were also executed for some unusual pathological lesion or specimen such as deformities, tattoo, etc. A hunchback and a dwarf, who had come to the notice of one of the SS doctors, were executed and their skeletons cleaned and mounted for specimens. Pathological lesions were collected as specimens, which involved the death of the patient in most cases. Tattoo marks were practically a death certificate as one of the SS doctors had a hobby of collecting, tanning, and binding them in book form while his wife made lampshades and book-covers from them.
Research was carried on in which healthy prisoners were used as guinea pigs. These experiences mainly concerned typhus and the minimum food requirements to sustain life. The former used infected lice with a celluloid cover taped over them to the patient's leg. The latter consisted of a strictly controlled diet in which the results were measured in the number of deaths.
Executions were carried out on orders from one of three sources:
1. Berlin Tribunal, which was the only official source.
2. Local Gestapo agency where the prisoner was interrogated.
3. Lager Commandant. Ziereis in this case was also the Chief of the Oberdonau (Upper Danube) Tribunal.
The normal methods of executions were gassing, shooting and hanging which were all carried out in the Death House. This block long structure had approximately 50 jail cells on the first floor known as Bunker or Arrest in charge of Hauptscharfuhrer Josef Niedermayer. Underneath was the gas chamber, hanging beam, shooting 'gallery' and crematorium in charge of Hauptscharfuhrer Martin Roth. The gas chamber was approximately 15 feet square and fitted as a shower room with tile wainscoting and overhead shower nozzles. The victims were told that they were going to take a shower; all were undressed in the back courtyard and led into the chamber; the heavy air-tight door was slammed and locked and the gas introduced through the shower nozzles. Normal operation was twice daily at 9 AM and 5 PM, 120 victims at each time. Once 220 were packed in and the SS fought each other to look through the small plate glass window in the door and watch them struggle in their agony.
They were thrilled with this mass spectacle. Frau Ziereis, the Commandant's wife, came once to see the sight.
The gas used was Cyclone B cyanide a granular powder, contained in pint-sized cans and the same used for infection of clothing. In a small room, adjacent to the gas chamber, was a steel box connected immediately to a blower, which was in turn connected to the shower system. While wearing a gas mask, the operator bashed in the ends of two cans of powder (one can will kill 100 people) with a hammer and after placing them in the box, clamped the lid on hermetically tight and started the blower. (In winter, when the gas would not evaporate fast enough from the powder, steam was introduced into the box from the other end.) After two hours, the intake blower was stopped and the larger exhaust blower was turned on for about two hours. Wearing gas masks, the prisoner operators removed the bodies to the cold room (capacity 500) where they were stacked like cordwood awaiting cremation. See enclosure 'Instructions for the service of Pourric Acid Delousing Chambers in K.L.M', by the Chief doctor. It is worded for delousing but the instructions were especially for gas chamber operators. The blowers and gas receptacle were removed by the SS and attempts made to destroy them. In March 1945, Ziereis and Bachmayer (see protocol) ordered all ventilation sealed in the police wagon and a small trap door installed. A group of 30 to 40 prisoners were told that they were being transported to Gusen, a subsidiary camp about 8 km away, were crammed into the wagon, the door locked and a bottle of poison gas dropped through the trap door on an angle iron specially placed to break the bottle. The 'police wagon' was immediately driven to Gusen and after parking for an hour the prisoners were delivered to the crematorium. The same numbers of Gusen prisoners were then loaded into the 'police wagon' for transport to Mauthausen with identical results. From March to October 1945 the car circulated 47 times with an average of 35 victims each way on the round trip, making a total of approximately 3,300. In October, ventilation was installed again, and the police-wagon resumed its original function.
Until 1943, daily executions by rifle or tommy-gun were done openly back of Block 15 where those waiting to be executed were forced to watch their comrades, three at a time, being mowed down. When gas and injection deaths practically replaced shooting, all shooting was done individually in another small room adjacent to the gas chamber. The victim was told that he was to have his picture taken and was led into their room where a camera was set up on a tripod. He was told to face the corner with his back to the camera and immediately he assumed this position, [when] he was shot in the back of the neck with a small carbine by a SS man standing to his left and slightly behind. Prisoner operators stood behind a door looking through a peephole as to know when to drag the body out. SS Standartenfuhrer Siereis, Commandant of Mauthausen, personally executed 300 to 400 men here in the above-mentioned manner during 10 shooting 'expeditions' over a period of four months.
In the same room as above, where a stairway led down from the street, an 'I' beam was stretched across about 10 feet high with ends embedded in the concrete on either side. From this beam, nooses were suspended which accommodated six strangling victims at a time. Before departing, the SS cut out the beam but the embedded ends are clearly seen.
The crematoriums were large brick structures containing a firebox for burning wood and coal and over this were the ovens fitted with rounded supports at intervals for the bodies. The bodies were carried into the ovens on steel stretchers and with a quarter turn were rolled out. The new crematorium with two ovens could handle twelve bodies at a time, 160 a day and with the old ovens a total of 250 a day. Insufficient cremating facilities held down the number of executions as all bodies showing signs of violent death could not be buried. Gassed bodies were often disfigured from clawing, biting, etc. and chemical analysis of the tissues would show cyanide. All 'violent-death' bodies had this stamp on their paper: 'Die leiche muss aus hygienischen grunden gefert verbreannt werden' (Sic) which says, 'The corpse must for hygienic reasons be cremated.'
Note: an exact imprint of this stamp was with the manuscript, but too faded to scan.
As mentioned, an electric fence surrounded the camp charged with a maximum of 380 volts AC, 3-phase and when any uninsulated object came in contact with one or more wires, current flowed and was registered at a central control panel by buzzer and red light. Complete constructional details, blueprints and operational data are enclosed. Also see enclosed protocols regarding prisoners being driven into the electric fence.
'Official' deaths were listed in Death Books giving cause of death, etc., from which death certificates were issued to: (1) The SS Police Court where the prisoner had been tried. (2) The political department at Mauthausen. (3) The head SS doctor at Mauthausen. (4) A Berlin agency from which reports were sent to next of kin and insurance agencies. From 1939 to April 1942, the causes of death as entered in the Death Book, from which the certificates were prepared, were all absolutely false as they were assigned to a body from a prepared list of 50 causes by a SS soldier, who was not even a medic. Not until 1942, when a few prisoners were allowed to work, were autopsies begun on a few. Enclosed are examples of original death certificates bearing false causes of death and signed by the SS doctors.
Tortures and brutalities as stated in the enclosed protocols usually terminated in death but a few remained alive to tell their stories. Enclosed are prison autobiographies of Dr. Ludwig Soswinski, Vienna Communist; Dr. Hans Von Becker, publicity minister for the Schussmig regime; Karl Dieth, lone survivor of the Wels-Linz Communists; Bernard Cechonski, Polish patriot, Ernst Martin, gas works director, Innsbruck; Josef Ulbrecht, bank director Prague; Georg Havelka, electrical and television engineer Prague. The last three named did a spectacular job of withholding valuable documents and obtaining evidence, which will surely hang some of our murderers.
Religious faiths also suffered the same atrocities as witness the report by three Jehovah's Witnesses of the Watch-Tower Bible and Tract Society, wherein they were pressed to renounce Jehovah. They were visited often by the SS for sport saying, 'Behold, I am Jehovah; I have come to you; am I not Jehovah'' They were then beaten and kicked unmercifully. They were made to scramble upon tables, then under, then sing, etc; all these indignities being in addition to their regular punitive company (strafkompanie) stone breaking and very heavy stone carrying. For months they were crowded into small cubicles only 3 feet wide, 6 feet long and 6 feet high for two men. Out of 150 Jehovah's Witnesses brought to Mauthausen from Dauchau in 1939, 19 have survived.
In some cases, the Gestapo and German criminal police authorized the release of certain prisoners but the Mauthausen Commandant (Ziereis) prevented most of the discharges on the grounds that the prisoner was guilty of misconduct, poor work, subversive political tendencies, etc., while in reality he was retained for his indispensable position in the camp. See enclosure 'Retention of prisoners officially released.'
Mauthausen was established in 1939 as a subsidiary extermination camp for Dauchau. Not long after, it outshone its parent in its grisly business to the extent that it became a full-fledged Class III Concentration Camp, i.e., extermination camp. For sheer numbers alone, it does not rank with Auschwitz (Obersilesia), where over 4 million Jews were exterminated, but for all other nationalities it was the worst for brutality, torture, sadism, and murder. The figures on Spanish prisoners are typical of those of the western nations: out of 7184 arriving in 1940, 2000 remain alive today in Mauthausen and its subsidiary Gusen. For Russians, Poles and Czechs, the percentage is even worse.
Mauthausen and its 26 subsidiary work camps, mostly war industries, had over 91,000 prisoners who were administered and guarded by specially selected Deaths Head (Totenkopf) SS totaling 45 officers headed by Strandartenfuhrer Franz Ziereis, 1069 NCOs and 5528 men. These subsidiary war industry slave camps were spread out as far as Klagenfurt and located in the following areas:
1. Gusen with 24,000 prisoners.
2. Ibensee (Solvay-Kaltsteinbergwerke) with 10,000.
3. Melk (Quartz) with 8000.
4. Linz 1 no prisoners in 1945 due to destruction from bombing.
5. Linz II with 2130.
6. Linz III with 5,000.
7. Vienna-Vienereudorf with 2,500.
8. Vienna-Schwechat-Floridsdorf with 3,000.
9. Vienna-Saurerwerke with 1,500.
10. St. Valentin (Panzererzengung Nibelungenwerke) with 1,000
11. Amstetten with 2,500.
12. Wels with 1,000.
13. Gunskirchen-Wels 400.
14. Steyr-Munichhold (Steyr-Werke A.G.) with 1,200.
15. Passan I with 36.
16. Passan II (Walswerke) with '
17. Schlier (Vocklabruck) with 500.
18. Wiener-Neustadt (Rax Werke) with 500.
19. St. Lambrecht with Schloss Lind with 100
20. Loiblpass (Tunnel and Strassenan) with 1,000.
21. Leibnitz bei Graz (Kaltsteinwerke) with 500.
22. Peggan bei Graz with 900.
23. ST. AEGYD (Kraptfahrtechnische Versuchanstalt der Waffen SS) with 300.
24. Klagenfurt with 80.
25. Hertenberg with 400.
26. Lenzing (Lensinger Zellwelle A.G.) with 600.
Eisenerz (300 prisoners transferred to Peggau in December 1944). See enclosure for type of product produced at each plant.
A list containing the names, ranks and positions held of 354 Mauthausen SS personnel is enclosed including approximately 100 Rogues Gallery pictures, 41 of which are identified. See list of equivalent ranks of SS, Wehrmacht and U.S. Army. Also included are the names and signatures of 13 Mauthausen women 'overseers' who were directly in charge of the women inmates.
Enclosed is a report, 'The Assignment of Prisoners to Forced Labor,' listing the various types of work and the administration of this slave labor. The prisoner received no pay until early 1944 when the maximum weekly sum was 50 pfenning, the balance going to the Mauthausen management for their own use. Other prisoners were assigned free of charge to firms and private persons in order to gain special concessions in food and supplies for the SS at Mauthausen. The Commandant (Ziereis) formed his own company at Gusen (Deutsche Erd-und Steinwerke) with prison labor to further increase his income. Profit exclusively from prison labor slave amounted to between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 R.M. per month.
As mentioned, new prisoners were stripped and never saw their clothes again; being issued ragged underwear instead. The best clothes went to the SS for black-market resale or for their own and families' use, in which case prisoner tailors did the refitting. See protocol stating that 5000 suits of clothes of average value of 1500 Czech crowns (pre-war) were turned over to the SS over a period of five years.
One of the remunerative of the rackets was the extraction of all gold from the mouths of the dead. All bodies were stamped 'Examined by dental surgeon' before cremation or burial. Large amounts of gold were thus accumulated supposedly for the SS in Berlin but actually large quantities were stolen and resold in the black-market by hospital and crematorium SS personnel. See reports 'The Removal of Dental Gold from Deceased Prisoners', and 'SS Dentists and dealings with gold teeth'. A list of degenerate SS dentists and doctors from Mauthausen and some of their infamous acts are enclosed. See also a protocol stating that a prisoner had his gold teeth knocked out with a brick by a guard, only to get the gold.
About the middle of April, a request was made to the prisoners for volunteers for the Waffen SS (Infantry). It was limited to Germans (Austrians included) and about 1000 volunteered, as they understood that the other alternative was execution (this was later disproved). Some also sought a chance to escape in this way. About 300 were selected from those volunteers, given regular SS rations, including cigarettes, outfitted in old Africa Corps light khaki, drilled and trained for combat and assigned to minor policing tasks inside the camp. It was a very clear demonstration of the inherent German love for authority and the ruthlessness with which they automatically operate. From fellow prisoners, they overnight became our masters and did not spare the rod.
Terribly optimistic rumors had been circulated regarding the position of the Russians and we had expected to be over-run by 20 April but, either the Russians turned north from Vienna to Czechoslovakia or they were stopped by superior German forces at the mouth of the Danube valley at St. Polten about 60 km away. About this time the first contact with the International Red Cross was made and all women from the western nations including the American Miss Dien were evacuated to Switzerland. These times became very dangerous as certain streets were walled off with barbed wire and we feared a mass execution. At certain unpredictable times, all prisoners were isolated in their blocks and a general tenseness gripped the whole camp, SS included. We heard rumors that the Commandant and other high ranking officers were discussing our futures as a mass wherein we would all be executed or transported to another area, or left in the lager which would be defended using us for hostages.
Our daily 'bread' was cut to practically nothing and men in prominent positions who had not eaten 'prisoner food' for two years were at this time forced to. In the Sanitatteslager (hospital) the starving were cannibalizing their own dead comrades, cutting out the heart, liver and muscles. Jews in the tent camp (Zelt lager) were paying a $20 gold piece for two loaves of bread and half kilo of margarine and two wagonloads of dead were hauled away each day to the mass grave on the hill. Gold, diamonds and jewelry were being accumulated by the SS from the Jews and our bread was being used for this purpose. One night a lone plane came over and dropped one bomb (some said up to 3 bombs) in the adjacent Jew tent camp. We all then expected a mass bombing of the whole lager but it never materialized. In the morning, I saw the upper half of a body, which had been blown from the Jew camp 200 yards and landed on the eaves of one of the bar barracks. About 15 were killed and 47 injured most of whom probably eventually died.
About 25 April, the International Red Cross returned and started the evacuation of Frenchmen, Dutch and Belgians. Representatives of the Red Cross were not allowed inside the guard limits and therefore saw nothing as SS drivers drove the busses in and out of the lager. The Frenchmen departed singing the Marsellaise and many were overcome with tears. Captain John Star, one of two British prisoners, spoke French so fluently that he was able, with some inside help, to pose as a Frenchman and was apparently successfully evacuated with the others. About this same time, the Jews in the Jew Camp were evacuated on foot to the vicinity of Wels.
We heard that Churchill or some other prominent British statesman, on viewing the conditions at Buchenwald had made the statement that if similar conditions were found in other lagers, the Germans would never forget it. Whether or not, there immediately began the gassing of those of the sick who might not die before the Allies arrived and would present evidence of starvation, mistreatment, etc.
American bombers made their last raid on Linz towards the end of April and we saw two bombers shot down. Seven parachutes opened and the fliers unfortunately landed within a few kilometers of Mauthausen. I saw SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Bachmayer ride out on his horse in their general direction and several hours later I heard that he had picked up two men, tied their wrists together, and attached them to the back of a car with a few feet of rope; the airmen then had to run behind the car while Bachmayer galloped alongside and whipped them. I was told that six American airmen were lined up inside the gate by the laundry and that they were being mistreated by the SS. It was extremely dangerous to be seen noticing such things particularly for an American but, by visiting the prisoner-secretary's office (Schreibstuber) on business and continuing on around the block, I was able to see Bachmayer and an NCO slapping and hitting them with a stick just as they had done to us in the same spot. Later the airmen were placed in the jail and three days later when I passed by whistling Yankee Doodle; two of them climbed up and stuck their heads against the bars. It was too dangerous to talk and I passed on quickly. Apparently, they were not executed and it is thought that they were transferred to a POW camp near Linz as others had been before.
I was so sick with dysentery and fever that I could hardly walk to the dispensary for 'cement' and weighed at this time 58 kilos (114 lbs.), my normal weight being 165 lbs. I was so weak that I could not stand at attention at the Apelplatz for roll call for any length of time without fainting. I was allowed to stay in bed by the Czech Blockeldester (chief of the barrack) of Block 10 and only arose and marched to the roll call. The Pole Kapo of the gardening detail was very sympathetic.
In six years existence, no Red Cross packages had ever been distributed but one day, SS troops were noticed eating bars of chocolate and smoking American cigarettes. Several empty cartons were picked up by prisoners and brought to me. This was our first evidence that Red Cross parcels had arrived and as we found later, all American Red Cross parcels had been stolen by the SS for themselves and their families. All French parcels had been opened and all cigarettes and all but one bar of chocolate removed; these were then distributed one to each Frenchman. I received a Hungarian package, which contained Ovaltine, cheese, and sugar, but my system was so deteriorated that I could not 'keep down' this real food. My Czech and Pole friends did everything they could to help me and with the aid of some opium, I was able to get started again on the cheese and later the Ovaltine and sugar.
American P-38's came over at about 100 feet and really gave us a thrill. Every M.G. [Machine Gun] in the camp opened up on them but nothing happened fortunately. We never dreamed that Americans would ever be near but we heard rumors that they were in Regensburg and coming fast. The SS departed about the first of May, were replaced with Vienna fire-police on the 4th when we could hear the American guns. No more executions or brutalities took place after the SS departed. On Saturday 5 May the guns were much louder but still some distance away, and I had not hoped that they would arrive before Sunday. Late in the afternoon, however, I heard rumors that an American jeep and half-track were at the entrance, and staggering through the frenzied crowd, I found Sgt. Albert Kosiek, Troop D, 41st Cav. RCN, Sqd. Macz. 11th Amd Div, 3rd U.S. Army. I could only say 'God Bless America' and hold out my dog tags with a quavering hand.
SSgt. Kosiek and the seven soldiers were entirely unaware of the two large concentration camps (Mauthausen and Gusen) in this area and were on routine reconnaissance for roadblocks, bridges out, etc. They disarmed over 2000 Vienna fire-police in Mauthausen and Gusen and sent them back towards Gallenkirchen. Sgt. Biagioni, Lionel Rommney, and I rode back with Sgt. Kosiek past Gusen where the released prisoners were murdering with fence-posts German prisoners, who had been brutal Blockeldesters or Kapos. Sgt Kosiek had given me a can of C-Rations at Mauthausen, but I decided to save it until it could be heated. For four hours I resisted temptation but finally gave in and ate it all cold. After a cold six-hour ride in the rain in low gear because of the roads clogged with German prisoners, we arrived at Gallenskirchen. Here I had real hot coffee but the C-Ration was like a chunk of lead and I could eat nothing else. After a sleepless night I could still eat nothing for breakfast except coffee. It took practically 24 hours to digest the C-Ration and after this I ate soup and crackers almost continuously.
In the morning, I met Colonel Yale, Lt. Colonel R.R. Seibel, Lt. Colonel Keach and other heads of the 11th Amd. Div., and requested notification to my family and OSS. They wanted to evacuate me immediately to Regensburg for hospitalization, but I explained that much valuable testimony, documents, etc, were available at Mauthausen, and I should return and collect it. I hated to go back, and it was one of the hardest decisions of my life to stick to, but it was an opportunity, which would not long be available.
We returned to Mauthausen and found the camp in charge of the Communist prisoners led by a Russian Major. They were having trials and dealing out death sentences and already about a dozen German Blockeldesters, Kapos, and others had been murdered. The next day, Colonel Seibel took command, disarmed the prisoners, and restored order. The Army doctors took over the tremendous job of trying to save thousands of lives most of which were too far-gone. After three weeks of good care and nourishing food, prisoners were still dying at the rate of over 50 a day.
I worked for three weeks collecting testimony, documents, liaison to Colonel Seibel and running down SS men hiding in the area. In the first two weeks I gained over 30 pounds.
One of the most important documents was a collection of 15 Death books (Totenbuch) giving names of 'official' deaths for 6 years. These books are labeled 'Mauthausen', 'Gusen' and 'Executions,' and were withheld at the risk of their lives by Ulbrecht and Martin, the prisoner secretaries assigned to this registration. These approximately 3,600 pages have been microfilmed and the books are in the custody of OSS, SALZBURG. Ulbrecht and Martin by means of tiny secret hieroglyphics were able to put down in many cases the true cause of death (gas, injection, etc.) at the same time as the official (false) death cause, i.e., in the '40 '42 book, all those from number 229 on with 'spr' means 'injection death' (injection of foreign material into the heart) and those with 'COIC' means violent exercise to death. In the '42-43 book, all numbers after 3725 with a dot after the place of birth were by injection. Other small notes in relation to the 'official' death cause can be deciphered by Martin and Ulbrecht. After 18 April 1945, all prisoners who have in the 4th column the remark 'Zellenbau' (prison bldg.) were gassed. On April 26 April 1945, 1157 prisoners died at Mauthausen through starvation, gas, shooting, and clubbing. Martin and Ulbrecht's addresses are as follows [Both addresses expunged by BLAST Staff.]:
After the Americans had liberated us, I discovered that I should have been executed on 28 April 1945, along with 27 other prisoners from Block 13. A friendly Czech, Mylos, who worked in the political department had, unknown to me, removed my paper and destroyed it so that I was not included with the 27. A statement explaining this in enclosed.
USA - Poliseihiftling (Police Prisoner)
Taylor, Jack Hedryck, [Jack's middle name was Hedrick] born 9.10.1908 at Manhattan, USA, married, last domicile Hollywood, La Brea Terrace 2008, California, USA, Captain of American Secret Service.
At the order of Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und des Hicherheitsdiestes in Wien from 30.4.1945 - FS 2005 taken to Concentration Camp Mauthausen as police-prisoner and under the same number was proposed his execution (Antrag zue Sonderbehandlung) to the Reichsicherheitshauptamt at Berlin.
Execution ordered by Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und des Hicherheitsdiestes in Wien based on martial law for 27 police-prisoners, many of the transport from 1.4.1945 took place t 28.4.1945 at Mauthausen afternoon. The execution of the Captain Taylor has not been carried out, because 3 days before I burnt his documents.
I declare upon my word of honour that this my testimony is based on truth.
Written and witnessed by
//S// Doctor Stransky Milos, Czechoslovak Citizen,
Former Prisoner Employed at Polivisohe
Abteilung of Concentration Camp Mauthausen
On 11 March court-martial proceedings were held and Grant, Perkins, and Underwood were all sentenced to death. On 3 April they were taken from Wehrmachtgefaengnis, along with about 350 other prisoners, of whom about 125 had been condemned to death. They were marched to Mauerbach, where they were confined for the night in a bowling alley building. The same night Grant, Perkins, Underwood and two or three other prisoners dug their way out and made their escape. Grant and Underwood made it back to the American lines or stayed hidden until the German surrender. Nothing in our source documentation tells the fate of Perkins. Lieutenant Jack Taylor was later promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and testified against his captors.
Our documentation also contains an extensive debriefing of Ed Underwood and Fred Grant. These are quite interesting, yet difficult to read and follow in context; thus, they will not be printed in the BLAST. The information in these debriefs confirm the detail in the exceptional narrative of LT Jack Taylor, and repeating the supporting narratives would simply be superfluous. There was no debrief of Perkins. By all accounts, a primary reason for capture of the four men was Perkin's womanizing.
Gusen Camps Trial — Defendants (June 13-24, 1947)
Defendants are all German nationals:
Erick Schuettauf~ 60 years old from Dresden
Wilhelm Grill ~ 30 years old from Bayreuth
Oscar Tandler ~ 57 years old from Crimetchau
Herbert Hartung ~ 41 years old from Neukirchen, Saxonia
Alfons Hugo Heisig~ 42 years old from Neesen, WestphaliWilli
Jungjohann ~ 45 years old from Osterrennfeld, Holestein
Gusen Camps Trial — Prosecution and Defense Counsel
Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Lewis Horowitz
Chief Defense Counsel, Lieutenant Paul Hughes
Special Defense Attorney Dr. Wilhelm Kluge
Colonel Andrew G. Gardener, President
Colonel William C. Bausch, Legal Member
Colonel Claude C. Burch
Lieutenant Colonel Jules V. Sims
Lieutenant Colonel Carlisle B. Irwin
Testimony of Joseph Berdzinski (June 17, 1947)
Joseph Berdzinski, a thirty four year old civil servant and Polish national from Linz, Austria (114-115), was a prisoner in Gusen I from 1940 until 1945 (115). For his first days in the camp, Berdzinski was assigned to carry stones until he was reassigned “to bring....to take the rocks out” (115). After that, he became a stone cutter and, finally, he was assigned to the tunnels (115).Grill and the Mail
Wilhelm Grill was in charge of the mail room and, Berdzinski testified, stole food stuffs out of the packages that were sent to the Polish prisoners (115-116). Berdzinski gives the example of three-quarters of a sausage removed from a package in which only one-quarter of the original contents were left for the prisoners (116). Stolen food was taken to the Jourhaus, the entrance to Gusen I. Berdzinski knew this because he had to carry a bag of food there once himself (116). He testifies that the food was taken to the Jourhaus by “Grill, an SS Sergeant, and other helpers” (117). Berdzinski once even saw the packages being opened by Grill, an SS Sergeant, and inmates Cunajek and Krause who worked in the mail room behind the camp (117) in the SS area (122) where the packages were stacked when they came in (117) if there were too many of them. Later on the packages were taken to the “Central” or “main post office” (122). Berdzinski did not believe that packages were opened simply to censor the contents, but to pilfer foodstuff (122). Berdzinki received three to four parcels a week as well as holidays (122). When prisoners went to receive mail and complained of things missing, they were beaten by Grill, usually with a stick or whip (116). First Sergeant Fiessel was in charge of the distribution of what was left of the packages and, according to Berdzinski, he was “just in his distribution.” Tech Sergeant Reichert was also in charge of the distribution of the packages (121). Both men saw that packages got to the right prisoner (124, 125), but by the time the packages got to these two men they had already been opened and fat, sausages, and cakes had been removed (116, 121). But these men only made sure that the correct person received their package (125).The Spaniards
Willi Jungjohann, or Jung as he was referred to by Berdzinski, started out in Gusen I as a guard and later became a block leader and a detail leader in Oberbruch Kastenhof in 1943 when Berdzinski worked there (117). Jung, according to Berdzinski, “walked around all day long and chased the people to work” and beat people for complaining about being poorly treated by capos (118). Jung was known for beating prisoners ruthlessly with a stick, even on the head and injuring them. In the fall of 1943, Jung even beat a Spaniard to death with his stick. According to Berdzinski, the Spaniards worked on a “narrow gauge railroad which they had to push” (118). When the cart they were pushing derailed, the Spaniards were exhausted. Jung ran among them and started to beat them with a stick. One of the weaker Spaniards was beaten so badly that he had to be carried away and, Berdzinski was told later by a friend of the man, died (118-119). Berdzinski was beaten once as well by Jung when he was caught boiling some potatoes in the stone cutters hall. Jung then took the potatoes to the capos (119).Chmielewski and Drunken Beatings
Berdzinski also mentions times when the detail leaders would go with the camp leader and the role call leader and get drunk. After much drinking, they would come back to the camp and sick dogs on the prisoners and even beat prisoners until their “eyes fell out” (119-120) with whips, breaking windows and making a lot of noise (126). When this took place, Berdzinski states that Jung was not present for this, but that he believes that Grill was there, though it was Schmielewski [sic] who knocked the eyes out of a prisoner with his whip
Testimony of Johann Joseph Foerster (June 19, 1947)
Johann Joseph Foerster, 50 years old, a shoemaker from Offenbach an der Main, Germany, was in Dachau and Mauthausen until the liberation for being a “functionary of the Fascist Opposition Group in Frankfurt an der Main” (280). He knew Schuettauf from the Vienna-Florisdsorf sub-camp of Mauthausen (280) in the summer of 1944 (281) where he worked from seven am until 10 pm to the right of the camp entrance in a shoe shop with very high windows (282).Vienna-Florisdsorf and Schuettauf
Foerster only knew Schuettauf for three months and was never in Gusen I (285).There were both Navy men and SS as guards at Vienna-Florisdorf, and there was tension between these two groups. The five SS men were hated by the Navy guards (281) Among the SS, Schuettauf had a reputation for strictness. The Navy guards disliked him for requiring “too much duty from them” (282).
The camp was opened after an air attack on Vienna. Schuettauf was camp commander when the camp opened and remained there for three months. Foerster recalls Schuettauf as “very correct” (281), distributing food fairly among all nationalities, mistreating no-one. At night, prisoners discussed amongst themselves how Schuettauf treated them well and respected their rights. (282). Foerster recalls seeing out of his workshop windows one day an escapee, a Pole, being returned to camp. The roll-call leader slapped the man for failing to respond to a question about the escape. Schuettauf stopped the beating, told the roll-call leader that he had no right to beat prisoners, and had the prisoner transferred back to Mauthausen as he might escape again (283).
Schuettauf also arranged to have left over food from the plant cafeteria delivered to prisoners (283). Schuettauf went to the kitchen three times a day to inspect the food, and although no prisoners were allowed in the kitchen, Foerster testifies that he believes Schuettauf was very concerned that the extra food from the plant kitchen be mixed with the prisoners’ food (284).
Prisoners nicknamed Schuettauf the “chief capo” because he was always walking through the plant making sure that prisoners were not being mistreated by guards and ensuring during air raids that prisoners were not driven by guards. Twenty prisoners were detailed to make sure the “air raid protective tools” were in shape. Prisoners had to go out into the fields for a half an hour to make sure no one was hurt during an air raid (284). There were no deaths in the plant while Schuettauf was in charge. Foerster believes Schuettauf was transferred as a result of his behavior toward the prisoners. “As a former prisoner I can say only one thing that is known to me. Whenever there was an SS member who was decent to the prisoners he would never keep his job very long. He would always be released quickly”
Testimony of Johann Folger (June 24, 1947)
Johann Folger a German laborer was born in Munich in 1906. In 1933 he was arrested and sentenced to 7 years and 1 month for arguing with certain members of the National Socialist Party about the Reichstag Fuehrer [sic]. Released on April 11, 1940, (482) Folger was arrested again the following day (483). Folger said, “I was told at the police station headquarters in Munich that the police force was not large enough to supervise me properly, and in order to avoid a reoccurrence of 1918, men of my type had to be taken into protective custody.” He was labeled as a “professional criminal” and so he wore a green triangle (484). He believed they were wrong and said that “the greatest criminals of all time made me a criminal, although there was no reason given at all for it” (484). He had once served one year and a six months for a “real crime” [unspecified] (484), but no specific charges from the criminal code were brought against him in 1933 or 1940 (484).
In 1940 when he was arrested again he was sent to concentration camps, eventually ending up at Gusen on August 16, 1940. His duties while in the camp were initially as a prisoner and, from 1942 on, as a capo. As a prisoner he was in many details, all outside the camp, “pumping station, settling point, gravel pit, St. Georgen, dynamite detail, Katzdorf, mine [sic] construction, St. Georgen, cellar construction,1,2, and 3” (483). Folger was in charge of a detail of 20 men (485).
On the dynamite detail, Folger was in charge of 18 [difficult to read in the copy, perhaps 10] other prisoners who made a test tunnel where ten bombs and two air mines were brought to explosion to find out the underground tunnels’ vulnerability (500).Russian POWs
SS Technical Sergeant Knockl was in charge of the Russian prisoner-of-war camp (483). Under him was Block Leader Kuetreiber and Block Leader Tandler, who was also interpreter (485). He also knew SS Sergeant Becker (485). The Russian camp was made up of Blocks 13, 14, 15, 16, 24,23, 22 and 21 from October 1941 for “about a year” (485). Folger does not recall Tandler’s name associated with mistreatment in the Russian camp (486).Young Russians
Folger says that Tandler was known as “The Father of the Russians” among the prisoners, not the SS. He cannot say if this name was ironical or not (486).Camp Leaders Chmielewski and Seidler
Chmielewski was the protective-custody camp leader at Gusen until “about the middle of 1942” (486). Asked if Chmielewski returned at the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945 Folger said, “Yes, I saw him there as a civilian, but he wasn’t protective custody camp leader any more” (486). Folger said Chmielewski was probably the worst and most terrible camp leader at Gusen. Chmielewski would visit the camps at night drunk and beat up the prisoners accompanied by block leaders and labor service leaders. Eventually SS Major Obermeyer “stopped these nightly visits” (487) by Chmielewski and the labor service leaders (487). The “main” (487) men surrounding Chmielewski were Jentzsch, Gross, Kluge, Kirchner, Brust, Streitweisser (487). Jentzsch was Chmielewski’s right hand man, according to Folger (496). He says it is possible that one of the accused at this trial might have been in Chmielewski’s group as well, but he doesn’t remember (487). The men he mentions also came into the camp in the evening, and he saw them there. He did not see Grill among them and did not hear Grill’s name discussed by prisoners the day after a night’s beating (488).
Seidler was quieter, but “perhaps more of a murderer” (487).Gassing
Folger testifies that around January or February in 1943, his barracks was gassed. He recalls hearing one gun shot being fired in the middle of the night. The next morning he met Capo Losen who was there with a truck of ten prisoners who were to take the corpses to the crematory. Folger entered the barracks and saw dead bodies lying in beds and in front of the door. [The following sentences are difficult to read in the copy]. Folger stated, “They had strangled each other. Some of them strangled each other, some of them strangled each other, and not many of us saw it” (498) The names mentioned in connection with this incident were SS Technical Sergeant Schmitt and Damnschke (498).Bathing-to-Death
Folger says bathing-to-death of invalids occurred from October1941 to March 1942 (492) under Chmielewski (493). He recalls, “As far as I can remember it was said that only three percent invalids were allowed in camp” (493). Folger assumed the men who were selected to be in the death baths were hand picked by the camp physician (496).
He recalled two incidents. Of the first, he says: “It must have been the end of 1941. There I saw the Block Eldest Schroegler took approximately thirty or forty prisoners to the prisoners’ bath house, and then he returned alone, and I asked him what was being done there, and he told me that these men would receive a bath there (493).” “They had only their pants and an overcoat” [sic] (494). SS Technical Sergeant Hurst and Jentsch entered, and the prisoners started to scream “and then one could hear that they were beating them and approximately half an hour later they came out of the bathhouse again” (494). “That first group was the last 48 Jews drowned there, and the second time they were invalids from Block 32, and there I heard for the first time that they were to be drowned there, also” (494). Folger saw the men being taken to the bathhouse and asked what was happening to the prisoners. The answer was, “They are going to be killed (494).” “At the time I didn’t take any interest in it anymore because it happened nearly every day” (494). He also heard prisoners say that “Hans Losen” [very difficult to read this name in the copy] (495) also participated in these baths. Folger never heard the names of any of the accused or of Grill in particular associated with the death baths (495). Prisoners continued to talk about these incidents until February and March 1942. He also heard that “camp capo Losen” once drowned 17 Russians (495). The death-baths were so well known that everyone in the camp must have heard of them (501).Living and Working Conditions for Russian POWs
Folger recalls that the 2,000 Russians who arrived in October 1941 all died (except those in infirmaries) by March 1942. Folgers says these men died from “Bad food; during the day they had to work in the stone quarries without socks, with wooden shoes; it was raining and snowing. They had very little clothes only a pair of pants, a thin jacket; and at noontime they didn’t get much to eat; they had to eat while standing up in the stone quarry; very long roll call and that is the reason why the people perished” (499).Deaths
Folger also stated that by March 1943 Gusen had about 30,000 deaths, mostly from “Bad food, not enough clothes, chicaneries, mistreatments” (499). He dismisses spotted fever as a major cause of death. “We had that too, but that wasn’t so important” (499).Grill and the Mail
Folger only remembers Grill as a “nervous and vain man” (488) and explains the prisoners’ hatred towards him as a result of Grill’s having taken more out of the packages “than he was supposed to” (488). Prisoners called him the “Mail Robber” (489). He was disliked among the SS for his vanity. “I remember once an SS man told me that he, the SS man, intended to go bowling, and then he went to Grill’s room and asked him to go along. He called Grill by his first name, and Mr. Grill told this SS man that for him he was not Grill, but SS Master Sergeant Grill” (488). As to his treatment of prisoners, Folger recalls that once after all the mail was distributed, there were a few pieces of bread left. Grill threw them through the door in the group of prisoners. Grill knew well that prisoners were hungry and that they would jump for these breadcrumbs (489). Folger could not say if anyone was hurt by this. The prisoners did beat each other over the bread. Grill expected this to happen (501-502).
Folger went to the mailroom every evening with fifty to one hundred prisoners (489) when the mail was distributed. He and his work detail received food distributed from the packages the same day it was taken out. This, he says, was on the instruction of Commander Ziereis after Tandler had requested it. Folger had told Tandler that his men, who had to do heavy work, needed more food and Tandler suggested this to Ziereis (490). Folger says that this was never made clear to the other prisoners (491). All the prisoners had to fall out on Roll-Call Square when Commander Ziereis published an order that things must be taken out of packages that were too large (491). Folger recalls that the prisoners were upset with the packages they received. He stated, “Everybody would have been willing to give up something out of his package, but they all were very angry that the best parts of these packages were taken out” (492). The prisoners blamed Grill, SS Technical Sergeant Schmidtt and “the old man Reichert wasn’t very well liked either” (492) Prisoners did not think the things taken out of their packages were being distributed among other prisoners (492). At the time there were about 1,400 to two thousand delivered to the camp daily. Two, three, or four hundred were given out to prisoners daily (496).
Grill was said to have an “easy hand” (495) when beating prisoners. Folger does not remember him remaining in the camps in the evenings or living or sleeping there or “hanging around” (495). Grill lived in St. Georgen (496).Executions
Johann Folger testified that there were two hangings, one in 1942 and the other in 1944. In one case, the Russian prisoner was said to have tried to escape and that he must be hanged according to the orders of Reichsführer SS Himmler, but he told another prisoner that he was innocent (500).
Testimony of Pedro Gomez
A 28 year old Spanish mechanic living in Linz, Austria, Gomez was in Gusen I from 17 February 1941 to 5 May 1945 where he worked as a stonemason, at the smith shop, and as water-pipe installer (90). When asked why he was in the camp, he replied, “We were working in France after having fought in Spain and when the German entered France we were promised work in Germany as free workers and we were brought to concentration camps” (99). When asked which side he was on, Gomez replied, “On the side of the Republic, my government (99). “Against Franco” (113).
Grill and Bathing-to-Death
Gomez remembers Grill from his first day in camp as a detail leader and the man in charge of the post office. He recalls seeing Grill lead invalids to the showers (90) in 1943 or 1944 (92). First the healthy men would be taken to the showers “in order to go to work,” and afterwards, the invalids (107). Gomez recalls seeing from Barracks 12 or 13 Grill and other SS lead men of all nationalities to the showers, hearing screams, and then seeing the SS return alone. A Spaniard named Marino who worked in the crematorium told him many died as a result of being bathed to death (92). Gomez saw Grill pass by on his way to the showers with invalids quite frequently in 1943 and 1944 “during the extermination of invalids,” and although he never saw Grill in the showers directly he had no reason to doubt that he was involved (102). Gomez personally saw the bodies leaving the shower (104) and in the crematorium (103).
As he was lined up outside Barracks 2, the post office, waiting for a package (99), Gomez saw that half the contents of the Polish packages were taken (23) (99) When asked by Defense Attorney Kluge if he knew that there was an order that extra food should be distributed to those doing hard work, Gomez replied that he had never heard this and that the hungry did not get the food (99). SS mechanics and electricians would come for extra rations. Waiting for more food, prisoners would push and shove and the SS would grab whatever was near and beat randomly at the men (93). Grill beat men only with one hand, as the other was injured (99). In April 1945 a large number of Red Cross packages from France arrived and these were also pilfered by the SS men and Grill. Gomez also remembers a Spaniard named Cinca who worked in the post office. As punishment for writing down the names of all the towns mentioned in the newspapers as overrun by the Russians (94). Grill beat Cinca and took him to the camp commandant (unnamed) who ordered him to be killed the next day. Second-in-Command Beck intervened and got the sentence reduced to 25 lashes and three days in “confinement” (95).
On page 108, Gomez explains that Oskar, from Hamburg, whose job it was to turn the showers on and off, explained to him the process by which invalids were murdered. “...the showers had three drains. Then the pavement would slant slightly. At the side of the showers there was a step about twenty-five or thirty centimeters high. Then as the invalids arrived, and this was only for the invalids, they were given a bar of soap. They would cover the three drains and then they would let the water run more or less, until it was forty or fifty meters high. Then the invalids were forced to lie in the water, and they were induced to do this by leather whips that the guards had. If some did not do so, they would take their foot and put it over their face, and with their foot over the neck or the face, they were kept there until they drowned. After this, if some were still alive, they were again submerged and then they were taken out” (108).
Jungjohann was in charge of masons at Gusen I (95). As an installer of water-pipes, Gomez could go about the camp with his toolbox and observed that Jung often beat prisoners by hand and boot (95)
Tandler was in charge of the 13, 14 and 15 year old Russians and was block führer to them. Gomez observed Tandler beating them when they marched out of formation or would not sing. He also testifies that these young men did very hard work crushing rock in the quarry. Tandler was supposed to ensure they got extra food, but even when this happened, he stole it from the boys (96). He recalls hearing the young Russians singing as they left for work and as they returned. While they were suppose to leave half an hour later than the other workers and return half an hour earlier, Gomez recalls they often returned from work with the others (99). Under no circumstances would the Russian youth have called Tandler “Father,” Gomez testified (100). Although Gomez did not know any German, he believes they were forced to sing in German, and if they did not, they were beaten (107).
As foreman of the firemen and then the Messerschmitt factory (96) Heisig was feared for beating men for trivial reasons. One Sunday in February 1945, Gomez saw him beat a young Polish prisoner for taking three potatoes off a cart (97).
Cleaning Schuettauf’s room one day, Gomez learned he was leader of the guards, but Gomez himself did not witness any illegal behavior from Schuettauf. Since Gomez had access to the entire camp in his capacity as water-pipe installer, he observed that either Schuettauf or an SS “with three stars” would instruct the guard before they dispersed to their assigned posts by “way of the highway” or through the quarry, whichever appropriate. He also recalls them cutting across the quarry to return to their barracks after prisoners had left work (104). The guards left for work half an hour before inmates left the inside of the “electrically charged wall” (106).
When Gomez asked Spaniards in the crematorium why there was so much smoke one day (109) in February 1942 (98), they told Gomez that they had a large number of corpses, either 147 or 164 (Gomez could not recall exactly), because of a gassing of Russians (98) in Barracks 16 (109). Stupinski, (or Lupinski, used in the same context on 112) an Austrian civilian who released the gas in the barracks, told him that the windows and doors were first sealed with paper, the gas was released, and then the Russians were forced to enter. In 1945 when Gomez was staying in Barracks 21, a similar action took place with prisoners from Barracks 24 in Barracks 31 during “a disinfection” (109).
At this time “Polish children and men from Gusen No. 2—children of 3 and 4 years old” (110) were brought to two “disinfections” on consecutive nights. The children were already dead, brought on wagons with all the other bodies. Gomez testifies that these children arrived toward the end of the war. The women, it was said, had been sent on to
Mauthausen. Inmates could see the train station from the camp, and they could see what they were told were Polish Jews with their children by the hand or in their arms (110).
In answer to Court President Colonel Gardner’s question “What was Gusen II?” Gomez explains, “Gusen II was a new camp that was formed about the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944 and then they started to send in prisoners.” (109)
Gardner: “Where any particular kinds of prisoners sent to Gusen II?”
“No. Some of them marched from our camp over to the other one. The only thing that can be said, it was a larger command and they were sent to work on the details in St. Georgen---” [dashes in transcript] (110).Hartheim Castle
At the end of 1941 Gomez also saw invalid transports leave Gusen I who were said to be headed to Hartheim (110).
Testimony of Wilhelm Grill (June 20, 1947)
At the time of the trial, Wilhelm Grill was a 31-year-old construction locksmith from Bayreuth, Bavaria.Grill and the Hitler Youth
In 1933, Grill was a politically uninterested (319) 17-year-old locksmith apprentice (317). As a young fellow he was impressed by the great organization of the Nazi Party. Information on other parties was only found on little posters and notes (319). He was influenced, as well, by the alleged successes of the Party. “One could see after 1933 that all the hate among the parties had disappeared. All over Germany constructions was going on, reconstruction was going on, the workers in the factories received jobs again, and people became happier than they were before, they were easier satisfied” (320). He believed that the program of the Party would save Germany from economic and political depression (319). This belief was partly due to the fact that his poor father’s business began to improve after 1933 (319). In the spring of 1934, by his own volition, he joined the Hitler Youth (318, 351); prior to this he had no connections with the Nazi Party or its organizations (317). He believed that all Hitler wanted was peace (320). This is what he was taught by the Hitler Youth and Waffen SS (320). He never thought that Germany would go to war (320). If he and other Germans had known what Hitler was going to do, he wouldn’t have come to power (320). He was in the Hitler Youth until April 1935 when he joined the Waffen SS (318).Army Service and the Waffen SS
Grill joined the Waffen SS voluntarily because he had lost his job in 1934 (318). He was with the Waffen SS from April 1935 until April 1938 (318). On page 351, the dates he gives for his service in the SS are April 1935 until March 1938. He says, “I was in the NSDAP from May 1, 1937, until the end” (351). While in the Waffen SS, his first unit was Guard Group Elbe (318). While stationed in Torgau, he worked as a company clerk (318). The Guard Group Elbe was in charge of guarding men he thought of as reformatory prisoners who came from Berlin so that their conduct would be corrected (319). When he left the Waffen SS in 1938, he went into labor service for seven months and then joined the army (322). He was in the army until 1940 (322) (351) when he was wounded by a machine gun bullet during maneuvers of the 61st Infantry Regiment (322). Because of his wound, a disabled right hand, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht and thus returned to civilian life (322). After being discharged from the army he was reexamined by the Waffen SS and pronounced fit for service on home front (323). He was assigned to the post office at the concentration camp, Mauthausen, where he understood his only duties would be to run the post office (323). He served in the Waffen SS from May 10, 1940, until May 5, 1945 (351).Contact with Concentration Camps
The first concentration camp Grill got acquainted with was Dachau (320). He, as well as all German people, believed that concentration camps were for the “enemies” (321) of the Nazi Party who needed to be locked up and re-educated for some time until they ceased to be enemies of the German Reich (321). It was impossible to hear anything else about concentration camps because former prisoners spoke cautiously about their experiences. Grill had met such a man (321). This was probably due to mistreatment (322). Grill didn’t know if prisoners had to take a vow of secrecy (321). In 1942 and 1943 he began having doubts about the concentration camps (322).
When asked by the prosecution to assess the conditions in Gusen I, he says that in 1942 conditions were very bad until the ban on the receipt of parcels was lifted. After that they improved and could be classified as “average” (352). When asked to compare conditions between Dachau and Gusen, Grill says that he never entered the camp at Dachau and so could not offer a comparison (353).Service in the Post Office
Grill worked in the post office at Gusen I from November 15th, 1940, until August 14th or 15th of 1944. (323). Prior to arriving at Gusen, he was sent directly to Mauthausen (323) where he spent four days training in the post office (323). As far as he was concerned, he only intended to take charge of the mailroom (323). During six months of continued training at Gusen, the postman from Mauthausen visited Grill frequently. After this training Grill took charge of the Gusen post office (330-331). He remained supervisor until 1944 when he was released of these duties by SS Colonel Ziereis (324).Head of Criminal Matters and Welfare
After April 1942 (224) he did not really participate in the business of the camp (325), but since the office of the head of the local party ward Ziereis was in the same SS barracks (324) outside the protective custody camp (325) (327) as the SS mail room, Grill continued to go to this barracks every day after Ziereis put him in charge of all criminal matters for the Nazi Party. After the 14th or 15th of August 1944, when the bombardments and the “retreat refugees came into our area” (224), Ziereis put him in charge of the Refugee Welfare Department of the National Socialist Welfare Organization as his main duty. Ziereis wanted his office at Gusen because this put the center of the party in the approximate geographical center of the ward (324).
As head of the NS Welfare organization, Grill says that he had to take care of hundreds of refugees after 1943. Several nights a week, this work kept him from returning to his home in the SS Settlement in St. Georgen an der Gusen. The work that kept him at Gusen was “Work for the Welfare Organization, for the party, and caring for the refugees” (342).Living Quarters
From January to October of 1941, he lived in Mauthausen (324) in the Restaurant Arras (341), and from January of 1942 until the second of May 1945 he lived in the SS Settlement in St. Georgen (325-326). Occasionally, when he first arrived, he slept in the camp Gusen while on duty (342) However, after 1943, he only returned home 3 or 4 nights a week but “remained on duty” for the “National Socialist Welfare Organization, for the Party, and caring for refugees” (342).Mail Theft
While Grill was in charge of the post office at Gusen I, no other SS men came into the post office and took articles from packages (336) (363). If he had seen it, he would have reported it because he had signed the order of Reichsführer SS Himmler which punished mail theft by hanging (337). Grill did authorize giving extra food to the prisoners who helped in the post office so that they wouldn’t steal it and be punished (364) (338).Restrictions on Prisoner Mail
Not all prisoners could receive mail or parcels. This determination was made by the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin (376). Russians could not write letters (350). On each letterhead going out of the camp, prisoners relatives were told that they could not send pictures or sketches “and so on” (329). These regulations were issued from Mauthausen in accordance with the Reich Security Main Office (330). New prisoners were informed about these rules through interpreters and block clerks (331).
Until October 1942, prisoners could only receive parcels at Christmas (326), and a four pound weight limit was imposed (355). After October 1942, prisoners could receive parcels at any time (326), and the limit was raised to the limit set by the parcel post, 40 pounds (335) or 20 kilos (375). The inmates relatives had been warned with an enclosure in the outgoing mail about what could and could not be sent to inmates in parcels (362) explaining to them that they were only allowed to send food, and could not send letters, tools, pictures or medical supplies (374).Grill and the Reception and Distribution of Mail
Before the change in the restrictions on packages in October 1942 (226) the reception and distribution of mail began at 7:00 am when a truck from Mauthausen took Grill, an SS guard, and two prisoners to the train station at St. Georgen. The mail arrived on a passenger train and, once unloaded, was taken to the post office in St. Georgen to be sorted (325). At about 9 or 9:30 am the camp mail was handed over to them and they returned to the SS mailroom and sorted prisoner from SS mail (325). Censoring of prisoner mail was always done in this SS mailroom outside the camp (328) (332). In the afternoon, Grill took the outgoing SS mail to the post office and returned around 4 pm when he helped with censoring if there was enough time (325).
After the restrictions on packages changed and picking up parcels and censoring parcels became part of his responsibility (226). Grill’s duty day would begin at 6:30 am and end at 10 pm (342). The first day under the new regulations, 300 packages arrived in the first shipment. The number increased to from 700 to 800 a day by the middle of 1943 (326) although the average weight remained 4 or 5 kilos (375).
By 1943, the Reichsbahn was unable to take care of the volume of packages and Gusen I was given its own mail car which was taken every morning including Sundays from the station at St. Georgen directly to Gusen by way of the special tracks in front of the camp (326). “From the moment the mail car was opened until the time the last parcel was disposd of, always a civilan employee of the German Post Office, of the Austrian post office at St. Georgen was present” (328).
The parcels were taken to the SS mail room outside the camp and checked with the parcel post receipts (328). Here the parcels were sorted (332). After parcels were checked with the parcel post cards and it was determined, as far as possible, that the addressee was really in the camp, the parcels were loaded on a large vehicle and brought through the gates of the Jourhaus to the parcel mailroom (328), a single room in Block 2 which was “solely the censoring office for parcel post for prisoners” (332).
The parcels were unloaded and “all parcel post cards went through the filing system of the camp office” (328). The camp post office had cards on all inmates who were permitted to write and receive mail (376). Grill also received daily reports on prisoners who had died or were transferred (376) “to outside details” (328). After the unloading and filing, mail that did not belong to Gusen was prepared that evening (328) to be shipped back to Mauthausen or St. Georgen (337) the next morning (342). Packages of dead or transferred prisoners were returned or forwarded without exception according to Grill (363). This initial “check-up” (328) took until late afternoon (328).
At this time, the package was censored. The man in charge of censoring it was the only person to handle it (333). Anything not permitted to be sent to prisoners such as underwear, pictures (359), drawings or money baked into bread or large items of clothing such as pants (handkerchiefs were allowed) was removed (361). Items of clothing taken out of the packages were tagged and sent to the storage room (362). Money, if sent in a letter, was confiscated. Grill says it was turned over to the person in the office in charge of the prisoner’s effects and the amount was credited to the addressee in a book the prisoners themselves kept (330).
Once censored, the package “went into a special drawer” (333).
In Grill’s presence, (336) after the evening roll call, parcels and regular mail were handed out to prisoners (334) by the SS man on duty in protective custody camp (333). The prisoners lined up in front of the post office for parcels. A prisoner in front of one of the post-office doors would call out the name of addressee (335). “On the long parcel table, another prisoner was sitting who got from the prisoner his signature for the receipt of the package; next to this prisoner the employee of the post office who checked the prisoner as to the number and name in accordance with the address on the package; next to the employee stood the SS man on duty in the protective custody camp was standing with the package and he showed him this parcel and in accordance with his orders he took out the food” (335-336). Grills says food was always removed done by a protective-custody-camp SS (336) never one of the postal censors (336) (360).
Food was taken out and redistributed to prisoners according to instructions given by Ziereis in 1942, when the rules regarding the receipt of packages changed. Colonel Ziereis instructed that each prisoner could only receive as much food as he could eat for two meals. The excess from the package was either given to prisoners who did not receive a package or to juveniles or to those who worked very hard (336) (360).
The food taken out was placed on a table directly behind the SS who had removed the food (336). At this time, a portion of bologna or bread or sausage would be cut off and placed on the table behind the SS and the rest put back into the parcel given to the prisoner (359). On page 360, Grill says that it was the SS man designated by the security camp commandant who determined how the food would be distributed to which inmate. “He made portions of those remaining food stuff. He knew how many details would be entitled to additional food, whether there were twenty or thirty he would make the appropriate number of portions. Inmates would file in on one side, get their additional food and file out on the other side” (360) On page (336) Grill says that certain work details would have slips from the protective custody camp leader to allow them to get food. (336) The original regulation regarding the distribution of this extra food read that the protective custody camp leaders were supposed to be in charge, but Grill imagined that this responsibility became too much for them, and so they appointed the roll-call leader or labor service leader or some other high ranking non-commissioned officer to do it (337, 361).
Grill says that block leaders never came into the mail room while he was working there. Nor did he go into the camp except once or twice. However, after his duties took him away from the mailroom, corporals were left in charge of censoring, and at this time block leaders with higher ranks might have taken “some liberty” (337).
Foreign mail, including Red Cross packages which occasionally arrived for French or Spanish prisoners was censored in Mauthausen (334), and so they would arrive at 4:30 already opened (334). This mail was also handed out after evening roll call (334). Of all the packages received, 80% of them were from Poland (333). The largest part of these Polish packages consisted of butter, bread, bacon, and sometimes cigarettes and sausage (334). Red Cross packages did not arrive regularly. In fact, until 1943, only one man, Guyer, received packages from the Swiss Red Cross (334). The Red Cross packages consisted of tobacco cans filled with meat, fish, cookies, and chocolate. German packages were the only packages in which oranges and chocolates came. Grill recalls these details because a triplicate list of the contents came with the package and had to be signed and returned to Prague (334). The Red Cross packages to French or Spanish prisoners were censored at Mauthausen because they had censors there who could read French or Spanish (364).Censoring
Until 1943, Grill censored mail himself, but he increasingly took on a supervisory role (329). In the mail room, Grill personally supervised four to five SS men who censored the mail and packages and a detail of five or six prisoners (328) who filed the prisoners’ incoming and outgoing mail according to their filing system, affixed stamps on outgoing mail, and loaded and unloaded parcels (329). Two prisoners in the office kept it clean (333). Grill and the man from the Mauthausen post office trained additional censors for two or three months, but eventually Grill only helped with the censoring if there was a great need for him to do so which he says happened two or three times a month. Three SS men usually worked at this job, relieving each other (333).
After October 1943, Grill ordered that only short letter could be written because of the overburden of work (365) only after the main post office at Mauthausen directed him to do so (367). From October 1943 until his duties were terminated in August 1944, 1-2 SS censors censored 25,000 letters and 15,000-18,000 packages per month. Grill had tried to get more censors at Gusen, since Mauthausen had 10 or 12 censors, but had not succeeded (365).
Reports on other camps, and anything against the Reich were cut out of a letter (330). Sketches and drawings were burned (330), and pictures were returned to sender (329). Usually, Grill would let the prisoner see the picture and then return it to the sender (329). Money that was sent, was given to the office that took care of personal effects of prisoners, and the addressee was accredited the amount. The prisoners took the book that held this information (330). Wine, liquor, pants, money hidden in baked bread or fats, and drawings or sketches in bread were confiscated as well (361). The mention of work methods, sickness, and work places was forbidden by the camp commander (367). Underwear was also forbidden (359).
After the 14th or 15th of August, 1944 after Grill was transferred to work in the Welfare and NSDAP office, he never returned to the mailroom, which was now under SS First Lieutenant Riemer (365). As the bombardments increased, disrupting mail service and the retreat from the eastern front proceeded, the volume of mail decreased (366).Beatings Associated with the Mail Room
Grill admitted to personally beating prisoners who violated mail regulations with a few slaps or hits with a stick. Prisoners used code words and bible citations to give information about the conditions in the camps or about food ration, which was forbidden (339). Prisoners were also forbidden to write that they had not received all the contents of their packages (374) but had to say that they had received everything (375). He would write reports only on those prisoners who had been warned once, or even two or three times, but if the same prisoner violated the rules Grill would write them up and they would be punished by transfer to a punishment detail or with 25 lashes or with an entry in the prisoner’s personal records. Reporting every such violation would have taken too much time and would have brought a more severe punishment (339). Grill’s personal beatings were to prevent heavier punishment on the prisoner from the camp commander or the authorities (338) such as longer terms in the concentration camp. Grill claims that many prisoners were released from Gusen in 1941 and 1942 (339).
As an example Grill offers the instance when Krause took an uncensored letter to a prisoner. Grill punished him to prevent further occurrences (338). Grill says that Krause decided to let Grill punish him because a report would have meant more severe punishment (338). On questioning by the president of the court, Grill said that in punishing Krause himself rather than reporting him, he did not have the discretion to do so according to the SS. This incident was a matter of the post office, Grill explained, and did not concern the camp commander (375-376).
Grill also says, “I myself can remember two cases of burglary in the post office, where several packages had been stolen, and furthermore during the receipt of packages at the time when all the parcels were handed out prisoners took the parcels addressed to other prisoners by faking the number of the other prisoner on their arm as well as on their chest and put the number on their own shirt, and in this manner they were able to receive the parcel of the other prisoner who was on night duty. For the employees of the post office and the SS men in charge of handing out the parcels, of course it was impossible to remember the name of the face that was supposed to have received the package among the many hundreds of prisoners” (340). Those who received parcels were often robbed by other prisoners not ten or fifteen meters from the post office. Grill said these thieves were punished. There were criminals among the Germans as well as the Poles who needed to be punished to deter crime (340).A Soldier Following Mail Orders
Grill estimates that aside from the prisoners working for him in the post office, he came into contact with as many as a thousand prisoners a day, depending on the number of packages, while he worked at the Gusen camp post office (340). The name Grill became synonymous with the post office and therefore with the censoring of mail and the removal of objects from packages (340). In regards to his conduct in the mailroom, Grill says that he was following strict orders correctly. “I was a soldier and carried out my duties in accordance with my instructions as a soldier (341).
“We were bound by orders which came down from the Reichsführer SS or from the camp commandant. We simply had to carry out such orders without making many questions (350) about such orders. Himmler himself was quite often in the camp and saw the conditions there and gave his orders accordingly. Had we not carried out these orders we would have been subject to the most severe punishment by the SS Corps without any questions of consideration whatsoever” (351).Chmielewski and Drunken Beatings
In regards to the accusations that he and Chmielewski went through the camp at night and pulled prisoners out of their beds and beat them, Grill says that he was never at Gusen between 1 and 2 am but went home when his duties were over at 6 pm. While on duty as officer of the day, Grill had nothing to do with the protective custody camp but only with the SS barracks and the camp headquarters’ staff. The block leader on duty had responsibility for the protective custody camp from one evening until the next. He stayed in the Jourhaus until the proper signal was given, and then toured the camp to make sure the lights and fires had been put out (343).
Grill claims he had no relationship with Chmielewski because the mail room had no connection to the custody camp. Chmielewski asked Grill to report incidents in the mail room to him, and when Grill did not, the camp commandant developed a disliking for him and had him punished for it on a few occasions (344). Grill says he had little contact with other members of the headquarters staff. As evidence that Chmielewski disliked him, he offers the example of a time when the camp commandant broke all the windows in the post office and shot out the lights with his pistol (345). Grill heard that once after Chmielewski had been drinking in the non-commissioned officers club with SS Master Sergeant Jentsch and SS Tech Sergeant Kluge all three had gone through the camp (345). Grill does not believe they were the only two SS to be involved in beatings resulting in death (268).SS in Camp
SS Master Sergeant Jentsch was head clerk of the SS under Chmielewski. Schmidt was head clerk under Seidler. “The labor commitment leader and role call leader during the time of Chmielewski was Brust, Kluge, Damaski [sic], and Knockl” (345)Deaths in the Camp
Deaths in the camp occurred in many forms. Prisoners were shot when trying to escape, killed by electrical current, baths, gassing, hangings and undernourishment (347). Grill personally participated in one execution by hanging as a spectator. Grill was ordered to attend the hanging, but he did not personally carry out the hanging (347). He never participated in deaths by baths. He heard about the deaths from Krause (348) who had worked in the post office from 1941 until the middle of 1943 (353). Grill says his knowledge of the causes of death in the camps was hearsay. He heard about them from the prisoners who worked in his post office (353), Krause and Nogai (354). Later in this trial (376), Grill acknowledges that his post office received daily reports about which prisoners had died and which were transferred, but declined to estimate under oath how many deaths were reported daily except to say that in the number who died in 1942 was greater than in 1943 or 1944 (376).
During his service in Gusen I, from1940-1945, he only saw two dead prisoners carried past the post office, shot while trying to escape and so could not offer testimony other than hearsay about the gassings or bathing-to-death or other means of death at Gusen (353). During his work at Gusen I, he never had anything to do with prisoners’ living quarters (340). He never went into the camp after 1 or 2 am because he did not reside there. He only went into the barracks (343).
Chmielewski and his inner group were the only ones who knew about the deaths by gassing and baths (349). Spotted fever was one disease that was very prevalent in the camp. It even took the lives of many SS men (346), forty SS men in the fall of 1941 when the camp doctor and Chmielewski ordered the delousing of the protective custody camp as well as the SS barracks and “my own barracks” (355). But Grill never heard of the gassing of 156 Russians. Russians were not allowed to write letters and so he had no contact with them in his position in the post office (250). He never heard about the gassings until he was a prisoner at Glasenbach (354).
Grill wasn’t allowed into the inner camp until 1942 when he received a pass with a photograph. Until that time he had to enter accompanied by a block leader (349), he was never as far back in the camp as the baths are described to be. Grill suggests that Kowalski and others have confused him with Tech Sergeant Gross, who looked like Grill but was a great friend of Chmielewski’s so much so that Chmielewski took Gross with him when he left for Hertogenbosch in Holland (350). On 358 Grill testifies that he was so well known in the camp as head of the post office it is unlikely that anyone would mistake him for someone else (358).
Tuttas, Wilhelm, inmate and victim (Prosecution Exhibit P-25 Mauthausen Death Book, Mauthausen Trial page 332, Schuettauf Trial page 503).
Testimony of Herbert Hartung (June 23-24, 1947)
Born on June 7, 1906, Hartung was a merchant and a resident national of Neukirchen, Germany. He owned his own business in 1939 at the start of the war. He says he had nothing to do with the military before the war but joined the “motorized SS” in 1933. On March 27, 1940, he was drafted into the 13th SS Regiment in Vienna (435). He was assigned “on account of my driver’s license” to the motorized detachment of the regiment and resided in Vienna until May 1940 when a guard company was organized out of the regiment (435). On May 14, 1940, 170 men in the guard company “moved toward Gusen” (436). SS Captain Habben was in charge of the battalion [the process of formation is unclear in the transcript] and SS First Lieutenant Konradi was in charge of Hartung’s guard company, the Third Guard Company. After a few days, Hartung was sent to the SS hospital at Dachau for heart trouble. After four weeks, he was sent back to the Third Guard Company at Gusen where he worked as a telephone operator in the central office outside the protective security camp from August 3, 1940, until June 1941 (436). He worked 24 hours on and 24 hours off until a corporal was given the job. Then he became an orderly in the SS officers’ quarters until March 1942 (437). Two or three orderlies were on duty from six am until midnight or two in the morning (438).Chmielewski
Hartung testifies that SS Captain Chmielewski treated the SS and prisoners alike. “When he was drunk he wasn’t afraid of anything” (438). One summer Chmielewski put Hartung in the refrigerator where he remained until a comrade let him out twenty minutes later after hearing Hartung’s knocking. Hartung was sick for three days with a bad cold as a result. “Otherwise I haven’t any injury” (438).
Chmielewski’s group consisted of five or six men, including non-commissioned Officers Jentsch, Brust, and Kluge and the ones he mentioned before [presumably Konradi and Habben 436]. This group was always together, during the day and night. When the others left, these “really got rough” (438). When asked what these men did when they left the officers’ club drunk, Hartung says he remembers hearing they once went into the camp with a dog and that they broke all the furniture in the officers’ club (439). Grill was never present with these men although he sometimes came in for a beer “during the general meal for non-commissioned officers” (440), but then “he disappeared” (440). Hartung believes Grill ate at home (440).Hartung as Detail and Block Leader in the Quarries
Hartung did not enter the protective custody camp until March 1943 when he was assigned as block leader and assistant detail leader in the stone quarries (440), the Kastenhof quarries, until September 1943, where he was in charge of between 400 and 500 prisoners. In the morning prisoners would move through “the second so-called Peek-door” after the large guard detail was at its posts. These work details were never accompanied by guards because the guard chain was already in place and the prisoners knew their work places and automatically went to them (441).
From September 1943, at the time when Kowalski testified about the murder of American prisoner [Willie Tuttas] for sabotage, Hartung says that he was actually in the Gusen Quarry and detail leader of the prisoners’ fire department (441). When asked if it was true that, as Kowalski said, Hartung was responsible for Tuttas’ death because Hartung had “led him away” (463) to the bunker, Hartung says he had “nothing to do with his death or his life” (463).Hartung and the Prisoners’ Fire Brigade
He was in charge of the fire brigade beginning in March 1943, before the motorized equipment arrived in fall of 1943 (450). As detail leader for the prisoners’ fire brigade, Hartung was responsible for any fires in the entire camp. He was responsible for personnel and their training and “sports, gymnastics, as well as, in September 1943 we received motorized fire equipment” (442). These duties took up “all forenoon, nearly until noon. At noon I went to the stone quarry and took care of the noon roll call. And I wasn’t alone there either. Others were led to the stone quarries” (442). In 1944 two SS master Sergeants arrived to work as detail leaders (442). While he was working with the fire brigade, he says that either no one or a block leader took care of the quarry (442).
At the sound of an air raid, Hartung would go to the garage as quickly as possible and would be met there by ten prisoners. They would go out without an SS guard as escort and drive about two or two and a half kilometers to an unused stone quarry where (442) they would take cover (443). In 1944 the “neighborhood” [Defense Attorney Dr. Kluge’s term] experienced one to three air raids a day “without exception” (442). After September 1944 “or really already the summer of 1942” (446), Hartung testifies that he was nearly always on the fire brigade (446).
As leader of the brigade, he had access to all parts of the camp and was responsible for water mains and pipes inside the camp as well as the equipment in the garage. He was also responsible for finding fire hazards and making sure that every barracks had a bucket of water and a sandbox. He made these inspections “every two or three months” (464) throughout the camp (465).The Bunker and Willie Tuttas
In answer to the question, “Was a key to the bunker ever in your possession and if so, in what capacity,” Hartung answers, “The block leader in charge had the key to the bunker in his office” (444). But Hartung denies ever hearing or seeing an American prisoner in the bunker who was starved to death over the course of nine or ten days (444-5). In his experience, prisoners were only kept in the bunker for “one or two days at the most” (445). He says he only had responsibility in the bunker when “two, three, or four prisoners were brought to the bunker for interrogation. Then the other prisoners were locked up in cells” (444).Gassings
He denies participating in gassing prisoners in 1945, saying that he was transferred to the newly organized SS Tank Regiment No. 1 in March 1945 (445). He did not actually leave the camp until April 15, 1945. As telephone operator for SS Tank Regiment No. I, his duties, to “make the telephone connections from the regiment to the headquarters of the various companies,” (451) allowed him to return to Gusen I every night to eat and sleep (451). He never stood outside the barracks while prisoners were being gassed to make sure that none escaped. He could not have been there because as head of the fire brigade he was always in the barracks (445). He left the camp “completely” on April 15, 1945 (451). When he returned from the SS Tank Regiment No. 1 in the evenings, he never heard about any gassing of prisoners, only about delousing. He recalls that his barracks was deloused in 1941 or 1942. Otherwise he only recalls the delousing station near the kitchen (452).
Aside from his duties with the fire brigade and those assigned by Chmielewski, he was also assigned to work with the women telephone operators in the central office, and to transport prisoners to Mauthausen, or to accompany prisoners outside the camp, or to work in the officers’ mess. “I had a variety of duties” (446). In addition, he was sent to Berlin in 194-[exact year unreadable in the copy] for special training about fires and fire brigades (446).Murder on the Electric Wire
He denies having thrown ten prisoners onto the electric wire on Chmielewski’s orders (445). Hartung says that Chmielewski did not return in 1945 and that Seidler was in charge after Chmielewski left in 1942 (446).Beating of Russian Prisoners-of-War
Hartung denies beating Russian prisoners on Roll-Call Square in August 1944, an incident reported by Jaroszewicz which left 40 dead (446). He says he has no recollection of any such incident, and that the only time he saw dead bodies was after an accident in the stone quarry that left three dead (447) in the Unterbruch (453). He never saw any beatings of any prisoners in the quarry. “But I wasn’t there every day. I had other duties also” (453). He does remember seeing beatings when the prisoners returned from work in the evenings and when food was given out at noontime in the quarries (454). When asked about the contradiction, he says, “Beatings, yes, beatings, that is always a big word” (454) and explains that he did not see any “large scale beatings” (454) but agrees that he did see many small scale beatings (454).
He admits to having beaten a prisoner once himself because the prisoner forged his name to receive a second extra ration from the post office. This beating took place in front of the stone-cutter’s hall in 1944 (453).Causes of Death at Gusen
Hartung says he never saw any dead bodies brought back by the work details in the evenings (453) and denies seeing any killings in the quarry (454). He says that guilt for the deaths at Gusen should be placed on the “higher headquarters starting with the Reich’s Economic Administration Office, over the various administrative leaders. And as for Gusen itself, the managers Walter, and Wolfram, they always requested large numbers of prisoners and more prisoners” (447) to work in the quarries and construct large halls, but they failed to provide adequate food and clothing. At the time the crematorium at Gusen was built in 1942 (447), Hartung did not discuss this with other SS. “I had nothing to do with it. I was only a telephone operator at that time” (448).
He says that the large number of deaths at the time the crematory was built were due to poor food and the fog coming from the Danube in June, July, and August 1942. “It was a very unhealthy climate, and we also had to suffer from it” (449). He cannot identify any causes of death other than this (449).
Hartung admitted to shooting at prisoner Josef Leitzinger (461) around ten o’clock am on January 16, 1945, (460) but says that the prisoner was already dead from a bullet from SS Sergeant Polweit (455). Leitzinger was “A German, I mean an Austrian green man, that means a professional criminal” (456) whom Hartung and Polwieit were ordered to take to Mauthausen. Leitzinger had gotten into a drunken fight with another prisoner at Gusen II and stabbed him. Leitzinger’s victim “died the same night” (456). An unnamed SS technical sergeant [unnamed] in the political department told the Hartung and Polweit that one of them should make a report about the shooting. Hartung wrote the report (456)
Hartung says that he was in the garage [presumably at Gusen I] when he received the order to escort the prisoner with Poweleit. “Poweleit and I grabbed a rifle [sic], as it was customary when prisoners were transferred and went to Gusen II. That is approximately 600 meters from Gusen I. At the Jourhaus of Gusen II the prisoner was handed over to us and that was when I saw the prisoner for the first time” (457). “When one leaves Gusen II one is outside the chain of guards. After one has marched about two-thirds of the way, one returns automatically into the guard chain of Gusen I” (457). After going one-third of the way, about fifteen meters from the Gusen I guard chain, Leitzinger “jumped to the right to the area which leads to the Danube River” (457). Poweleit and Tandler started after him and shouted for him to halt. Then Poweleit shot him. After that, after having unsecured his rifle, Hartung also shot him. When he shot, the prisoner was already falling to the ground (457). In an earlier interrogation, Hartung had stated that he shot Joseph Leitzinger to death (461). Hartung explains that he meant that both he and Poweleit had received the order together (462).
Testimony of Alfons Hugo Heisig (June 24, 1947)
Alfons Hugo Heisig, a 40 year old German man, a chimney sweeper from Neesen, Westphalia, said that he was drafted on November 5, 1939, “by written order” (466) into the Waffen SS and sent to Brunn, Czechoslovakia with the 7th SS Regiment for training until December 20, 1939. He was sent to Ebelsberg, near Linz, Austria, still with the 7th SS Regiment (466). A private, he stayed there until mid January 1940, when he was sent to the 13th SS Regiment in Vienna. In May, he was then assigned to the 3rd SS Guard Company, attached to the Guard Company Gusen. He worked there as a guard from May 15, 1940, until August 1943 (467). He was promoted to Private First Class in November 1940, to Corporal in November 1941, and Sergeant in January 1944 (470).
While serving with the guard company, he only entered the protective custody camp once when he was ordered to be present at an execution by Commander Ziereis. A prisoner was hung on Roll-Call Square (467).
In August 1943 after Waffen SS men from the headquarters staff were transferred to active duty, he and six other men were assigned the duty of block leader and detail leader. He reported to the roll-call leader who was “you might say the acting first Sergeant of the headquarters staff” (468). He also met SS Tech Sergeant Schmidt (468) (clerk of the protective custody camp), First Lieutenant Beck (2nd protective custody camp leader) and Labor Service Leader Fissel. He was assigned to be auxiliary detail leader at the Stone Quarry Gusen. When asked how long, he answers “In a chain of command” (469). He alternated this detail with being detail leader of the Steyr armament factory (469).Duties of Detail Leader
In the morning, the entire headquarters staff would “fall out in front of the protective custody camp” (470). “And the roll-call leader would report the strength to the protective-custody leader” (470) who was in charge of roll call. At this time, special duties might be assigned, which was the only time Heisig had further contact with the headquarters staff (470). Detail leaders were on duty from seven am when prisoners marched out of the camp until five pm when they returned (477). He was a leader of one to two thousand men. His duties included bringing the men to their places of work. “There we were assigned to the details through the various civilian foremen and master mechanics” (469). Along with the guards, discipline was handled by capos and assistant capos and masters in the work halls (469).Evenings for Non-Commissioned Officers at Gusen
Two or three men shared a single room. Their evening meal was served in the non-commissioned officer’s club where they all ate around a single table. After dinner “everybody went after his own hobbies or interests” (471). Heisig could not testify about the group that gathered around the commandant because he left immediately after the meal. He says that usually only the roll-call leader and the leaders of the guard companies, all officers, stayed with the commandant (471).Chmielewski
Heisig only saw Chmielewski when he was a guard. Chmielewski had already left when he joined the headquarters staff and became a non-commissioned officer (472). While still at Gusen, Heisig heard that Chmielewski returned to Gusen in 1945 for two short stays, although not as camp leader (472).Grill and the Mail
[Quoted directly here because of a possible mistranslation]
Defense Attorney Kluge: What was the position of the post office there in camp and what kind of relationship existed between the post office and the headquarters staff if you are able to make any observations? (469)
Heisig: In fact, the post office [headquarters is probably meant] had nothing to do with selection of the post office staff. Only when packages came directly from Mauthausen, these packages were handed out to prisoners directly in camp. (470)
Heisig had no contact with Grill at the post office. When he had reason to go to the post office, a corporal or a Sergeant was on duty behind the window. Heisig did not see Grill in the con-commissioned officer’s club at night. Married men were fed in St. Georgen, about four kilometers away (472).Freezing Prisoners with Water or Bathing-to-Death
Defense Attorney Kluge asks Heisig if Kowalski was correct when saying that water was poured over weakened prisoners to kill them. Heisig says no. Then Kluge asks if it might be true that water was poured over prisoners in the summer heat to revive them. Heisig says he never heard or saw of such a thing (473). He says that “all the water trenches” (473) that came from the mountains were covered. There was no access to water in the stone quarry, “the closest water trench was alongside the fence that surrounded the non-commissioned officers club” (473).
Heisig heard of bathing-to-death but says this only happened under Chmielewski when he, Heisig, was still in the Third Guard Company. During this time, Heisig only entered the camp once (473). Heisig has no memory of any of the witnesses and says they have no reason to remember him. He passed by the bath house several times, but never entered it (473)
Quoted directly because of non-sequitur:
Defense Attorney Kluge: Furthermore, you are supposed to have participated in those bathings by standing outside and preventing prisoners from leaving. (474)
Heisig’s answer: I heard about gassings for the first time here during my interrogations. Before I didn’t hear about it. (474)
Heisig then says that at the time the bathing-to-death was supposed to have taken place, he had no duties in the protective custody camp at all but was still a member of the guard company. Accompanying prisoners to the bath was the duty of the block eldest (477) .
He heard about bathing-to-death from prisoners in his detail but never heard screaming coming from the bathhouse (478).Gassing of Prisoners in Barracks
When asked if he ever heard about gassings in order to delouse barracks, Heisig says that his barracks was gassed as well, sometime in 1941 and 1942 (474) while he was stationed in the guard barracks outside the camp (475). He knew about the preparations for gassing barracks from the time he was on guard duty, but never saw these preparations inside the camp (478). He heard about gassing of barracks for the purpose of delousing inside the camp in 1943 or 1944, but not 1945, and never heard of gassing prisoners (478). When he was on guard duty inside the camp after 1943, he remembers gassing of barracks “for the purpose of delousing” (475) after the block eldest reported the conditions regarding lice and vermin within the barracks. The talk in the camp about the source of the vermin problem was that “There were many prisoners who didn’t feel it was necessary to wash every day. For this purpose some of the block eldest handed out food stamps every morning and these food stamps the prisoners received only after they washed themselves and only then could they get breakfast. Heisig admits he is referring only to regular prisoners, and not Russian POWs. (475) Asked to continue with the “normal procedure which took place when barracks were gassed” (476), Heisig says that all the prisoners had to go to another barracks, leaving their clothes behind, then “all the openings in the block were covered and then the men who take care of the gassing job went inside there” (476). Civilians who carried out the gassings wore gas masks. (476).
Asked by Defense Attorney Kluge if it is possible that that “such a gassing of barracks was misunderstood and some people saw not only the barracks were gassed but the people in there,” (476), Heisig says he believes it is possible. Asked if he has “any indication, any statement, any remark” as an evidence of this confusion (476), Heisig says, “The same way as it is now during our imprisonment that latrine rumors are coming up, it was the same at that time in the camp” (476).Beating Prisoners
Heisig admits to having beaten prisoners, but never to death and only when they committed a crime. “That jackets were stolen from the civilian foremen, tools were stolen, rubber hoses were stolen. Potatoes were stolen” (477). Asked what proportion of prisoners were actually criminals, Heisig says he cannot respond (477). He beat prisoners with his hands and with a rubber hose, but with a stick “very seldom” (477). He denies beating a prisoner until blood came from his head for stealing a potato because the witness said this happened on a Sunday and potatoes were never brought into the camp on Sunday (480).
In response to Gomez’ testimony that he was the most feared in the camp (480), he says that some prisoners were always trying to avoid work and therefore called attention to themselves. They would leave work, making things worse for their co-prisoners, and spend all their time trying to “organize” (481) food, thus drawing attention to themselves (481).Living Conditions
In his time as detail leader in the quarry, Heisig never saw a prisoner die in the quarry (478) and never saw a prisoner collapse (478-479). “Accidents happened and they were brought back to camp right away” (479). He did see dead bodies (479).
Three hundred prisoners lived in one barracks. As far as living conditions, Heisig says, “In my time, it was not so bad anymore, not as bad as in the time of Chmielewski” (479). Prisoners told him things were worse under Chmielewski (479).Executions
He never saw a prisoner shot but heard of prisoners being shot for attempting to escape (479). He never saw execution squads and was only told about them by prisoners who did not tell him who was on the execution squads. The execution squads were drawn from the various guard companies (480).
Testimony of Willi Jungjohann (June 23, 1947)
Note: Jungjohann was initially interrogated during a line-up at Dachau. When asked by Defense Attorney Kluge if he ever saw the record of this interrogation, or if he ever signed it, Jungjohann says no. This is the “initial interrogation” to which the summary below refers (391).Biographical Information
Willi Jungjohann, a forty-five year old shipyard helper, was employed as such in Saatsee, Rensburg, in 1939 (378), He had no previous military service before the war. Drafted November 7, 1939, into the Fifth Deathhead Standard Oranienburg, he was trained in Oranienburg until February 10, 1940, when the entire company was transferred to Mauthausen. He was at Mauthausen for a total of two hours when he moved to Gusen I. He stayed at Gusen I from January 11, 1940, until the middle of April 1945 (379). On September 1, 1940, he was promoted to SS Private First Class, and on January 30, 1942, he made SS Corporal (380). From January 11, 1940, until August 1943 he only did guard duty outside of the security camp with the First Guard Company at Gusen (380). In August 1943 he was transferred to headquarters staff and became block leader and detail leader (381). As block leader, he said he only entered the security camp during roll call (391). From January 1944 to August 1944 he had Detail Kasten hoff [sic] Oberbruch, and from September 1944 until the middle of April 1945 he had Detail Messerschmitt (387).Contact with inmates
Jungjohann testifies that guards were to have nothing to do with prisoners and could not leave their posts except to keep prisoners from escaping. The only time he was inside the security camp was when his entire unit was ordered to march inside the camp to watch a hanging (380).They were to keep a distance of 4-6 meters while escorting them, and at their place of work they had no contact (380-381). He says guards were not given special privileges if they shot an inmate. He denies having kicked prisoners at the Gusen quarry and causing them to fall twenty meters and says that while he was detail leader at the Oberbruch, nothing of this sort happened (381).Furloughs
According to Jungjohann furloughs were only given out by the commander of Mauthausen Ziereis (381).Executions
During his initial interrogation, Jungjohann said he never witnessed an execution (388). During this trial, he says he only went into the security camp on one occasion for an execution. The whole company was ordered into the camp to witness the hanging of one person (380).Death of a Spaniard
Jungjohann denies Berdzenski’s testimony that he always carried a stick in his hand and beat inmates or that he injured or killed a Spaniard in the fall of 1943. Berdzenski had testified that Spaniards were working on the railroad, pushing and pulling cars when one derailed. He remembers that “Jung” came over and started beating them, murdering one. Jungjohann denies this happened (393).Treatment of Prisoners
In response to a question from the Court President about whether the SS guards had discretion to punish prisoners, Jungjohann answers that they did not. He also says that no SS was ever punished for breaking this rule (391).
Jungjohann admits to having beaten prisoners with a stick perhaps four or five times (386). During his initial interrogation at Dachau he had said, in answer to the question, “How often did you kick [prisoners]?” his answer was “Now and then, naturally.” (388) He testified at this trial that he beat inmates “four or five times, several times with a stick and repeatedly with my hands” (386). During this trial, Jungjohann denies Kowalski’s charge that he kicked prisoners at the Oberbruch, causing them to fall 20 meters (381, 392). Jungjohann tells the court that he was not detail leader in Oberbruch at that time (381) but was leader of Detail Messerschmitt (392). To Kowalski’s charge that among those who fell at the Oberbruch there were corpses and some with broken feet, Jungjohann recalls that while he was detail leader in the upper quarry there were only a “few” injuries that happened because of accidents, but “deaths never occurred there” (392).
Jungjohann testifies about an incident relating to the punishment of a gypsy [sic] for stealing and storing potatoes in the barracks. He relates to the court the danger that fire posed in the workshops, and says the theft of potatoes was a loss to other inmates. Because he didn’t want to give an official report, he beat the man himself. He tells the court, that if he had made a report, the inmate would have been punished more severely (386). He denies Gomez’ testimony that, in 1944, he mistreated prisoners by kicking them and hitting them with his hands, Jungjohann admits to slapping the faces of the inmates (393).American Flyers
During his initial interrogation at Dachau, Jungjohann said that he never came into the vicinity of any American flyers. He denies having said during the earlier interrogation that he was in the Jourhaus that night doing auxiliary duty as a block leader with two others, and that he was in charge (389). When asked during this trial, he said that the day the American flyers were shot down, SS Sergeant Kaiser was the block leader on duty at the Jourhaus who was in charge of the bunker. That night SS Sergeant Krstechmar was in charge of the bunker and he, Jungjohann, was Krstchmar’s [sic] deputy (389). He says he was in Detail Orberbruch when eight to ten American planes were shot down and seven or eight flyers parachuted out of them between Gusen and Linz (382). In the immediate area of Camp Gusen I, the anti-aircraft artillery was shooting at the planes (382-383). In the immediate area of Gusen I Jungjohann saw three fliers. One flyer came down in the direction of St. Georgen, another in the direction of the village of Gusen, and one came down “towards the mountains to the right of St. Georgen, but closer to Gusen” (383). He only remembers one flyer brought into the camp from St. Georgen. Jungjohann testifies, “He was locked up in the bunker and from there he was led to the dispensary” (383). The flyer was brought to Dr. Vetter and SS Master Sergeant Seidler, and a medic [unnamed] in the SS dispensary to be bandaged and then led back to the bunker and “supposedly taken to Mauthausen two days later” (384). Jungjohann said the flyer had “a rag on his head over his eyes and his face was black” (389) but denies having said that the flyer had been shot when questioned earlier (389). He says that he heard later that SS Sergeant Sauer supposedly shot one of the fliers, although most of the details of this he learned while a prisoner in Dachau (384). In Kowalski’s testimony he remembers, “Jung fired two or three shots at him, and the flier fell down. He was about 4,5 meters behind the flier” (392). Jungjohann testifies that he had a witness to his actions, a one SS Master Sergeant Reichert who was with him at the upper quarry during the air attack (393).The “Beast”
Glowacki had testified, “Jung was the most brutal man at Gusen I: he was known as the ‘Beast’” (394). “Jung” denies this testimony. He tells the court he was not known as the “Beast.” “If I had been a beast I would not have taken inmates back into the camp during night shift when they took sick” (387). He relates to the court how, during a night shift, he took to the dispensary one inmate who had a metal splinter in his eye. He tells how he awakened the doctor so that the man could have the splinter removed (387).
Testimony of Jan Janusz Kamienski (June 17, 1947)
Jan Janusz Kamienski was a twenty seven year old Polish national. At the time of the trial, he was unemployed and studying medicine in Augsburg, Germany. He was a prisoner in Gusen I from June 6, 1940, until February 9, 1943. For his first two months in the camp he carried stones. For two months after that he was on the camp-cleaning detail. The remainder of his time at Gusen he worked in the Kastenhof Quarry (128) where he was clerk in 1942 (133). Kamienski was transferred to Dachau as an electrician (153).Grill and the Mail
Of all the defendants, Kamienski said he was most familiar with SS Sergeant Wilhelm Grill (129a). He states that Grill was in charge of the mail room, and censored mail and packages prisoners received on holidays. After 1942, Grill censored the packages they received from home. Under Grill’s negligent administration, prisoners were not allowed to write letters for three months in 1942. Kamienski’s parents became worried and wrote a letter to the headquarters of Gusen I in June or July 1942 (129a). As a result, Grill called Kamienski into his office for “interrogation,” which prisoners understood to mean a beating (129a-129b). Grill shouted at Kamienski, “You Polish swine, why didn’t you write a letter home?” (129b) Kamienski reminded Grill that prisoners could not write home for three months. Grill beat Kamienski repeatedly until Kamienski answered that he had not written home “because of his own carelessness” (129b). Grill then made Kamienski sit and write a letter to his family which read “I am well, I am healthy. Your letter I have received with great joy and I thank you very much for it. Your loving son.” (129b). According to Kamienski, beatings of prisoners by Grill were a daily occurrence (129b). Grill beat prisoners in Block 3 with an oxtail whip for adding an extra word to their letters (132).
Kamienski testifies to the fact that Grill stole food stuff from packages that were meant for the prisoners (129b). In December, 1942, Kamienski received a package that was supposed to weigh approximately twenty-two pounds but all that was left was a loaf of bread and some spilled marmalade (129b-130).Bathing-to-Death
“The bathing of invalids” took place, according to Kamienski, from approximately September 1941 until October or September 1942 (130) mostly in the afternoon or evening under the supervision of Camp Leader Schmielewski [sic] and SS Master Sergeant Lynch (146, 162). Kamienski tells that the naked invalids were taken in large groups. He goes on to describe them as “walking skeletons” (130). In March or April of 1942, Kamienski was in the dispensary visiting his friend the “wardmen” (131). On leaving, he tried to “pass through the gate that was between Block 27 and Block 28” (131) but was stopped by the gatekeeper. From the door of the dispensary, he witnessed a group from Block 32 being taken to the baths (131) at the end of Blocks 27 and 28 (142) by SS Master Sergeant Grill and block eldest of Block 43 [sic], Karl Schraegle [spelled Shroegle on 130-131]. After getting the group to the bathhouse, the inmates understood what was going to happen to them. They were beaten with sticks and kicked to make them go into the baths by SS Technical Sergeant Brust Brust and the Block Eldest of Block 32. Grill stood in the entrance and kicked or beat inmates with a stick he held in his left hand (131). Those who remained lying outside in front of the bathhouse were dragged into it by Brust and the block eldest of Block 32. Approximately 25 to 30 corpses were taken to the washroom in Block 22 and those still alive were lead back to Block 32 by Block 32’s eldest (132). According to Kamienski, the bathhouse was “a covered building. In the center of the floor was a depression approximately 30 centimeters deep. The sides were cement walls. During the bathing the drainage was closed so that the water rose to the edges” (132). The invalids were then forced to go into the water after receiving beatings. In their weak state, most of the invalids fell into the water and drowned (132).Schuettauf and the Chain of Guards
Erick Schuettauf or, as Kamienski calls him, “General Bauch,” meaning “belly”(129), was the “commander of one of the companies in Gusen” (133). While his duties concerned the guards only, he also became involved in the treatment of prisoners (149). According to Kamienski, when Schuettauf gave orders to his guards, prisoners knew well that beatings would occur shortly thereafter. Kamienski discusses one instance when Schuettauf threatened SS Sergeant Peist with a report if he didn’t get some prisoners in the lower Kastenhof Quarry to “start working” (133). The capos and head capos were called together and ordered to take care of the problem in work detail Kieppe 2, where mostly Russian POWs worked with sand. This order was shortly followed with a severe beating of those prisoners, after which 35 to 40 bodies were carried away (134). Kamienski was told by a member of the SS that Schuettauf had even told his guards that if one of them shot a prisoner, they would receive cigarettes and a furlough (134). Kamienski even over heard Schuettauf telling his men “not to consider us [prisoners] as human beings, but as murders and criminals, and that they ought to shoot us to death or to beat us to death. And furthermore, for doing that they would receive cigarettes and leaves” (150).Conditions in Kastenhof
Kamienski reports that conditions in this quarry were so bad up to 150 prisoners were killed there a day (133). As clerk in Kastenhof, Kamienski was personally responsible for telling the roll-call leader how many prisoners were returning and how many corpses were returning (150).Russian Prisoners-of-War
Tandler took charge of the 2,000 Russian prisoners of war (POW) who arrived in the camp in November or December, 1941 (134) and occupied Blocks 13,14, 15 and 16 (150) as well as the young Russians in Block 24 after 1942. By March 1942 only a few were still alive (134). Tandler, who didn’t speak Russian well, was in sole control of the Russian POWs wherever they worked. Most worked in the Kastenhof quarry where Kamienski worked. From the first day they went to work after being quarantined for six weeks, Tandler mistranslated the orders for the Russians, and then he beat them severely for not carrying the orders out properly (135).
The Russians were also grossly underfed, receiving only half the rations that the rest of the prisoners received (135). Russians would, when leaving the camp for the quarry, pass to the left of the garbage from the kitchen. The prisoners would “jump over” to the place with the food, “potatoes mixed with dirt” (136), and get as much of it as they could. They were then beaten heavily as Tandler watched. According to Kamienski, in his two and a half years at Gusen he had never before seen people so run down and beaten they would eat manure (136).
The Russians worked on the ground in the quarry pushing material in the carts on the narrow gage railway. Half an hour before prisoners returned to the camp, the “kippe” where filled with dead or half-dead bodies, the half dead on the bottom, by Tandler’s order, so that the dead would crush them to death. They were taken back to the camp on the rail-lines, where prisoners could see those still alive open-mouthed and struggling for air while the SS abused them (137-138). Once in the camp, these bodies were “dumped (137). The SS block leaders would kick those still living in the head, saying things like, “Look at that dirty pig. He is still alive” (138).
In approximately February 1942, Block 16, which was 90% Russian, was gassed by the guards (138). Tandler was personally present on July 20, 1942, when a Russian officer was hanged from a lamppost by the kitchen. Kamienski stated that Tandler was present at 3 or 4 executions, probably as an interpreter (139).
Because the worst criminals were specially selected to fill positions in the camp, such as block eldest and room eldest, Kamienski testified that they would steal half of the food that the Russians were supposed to receive, either for themselves or to give to a friend. Even prior to this theft, the Russians’ food was already halved from the normal prisoner ration (139). Kamienski recounts an example where the Block Eldest of Block 15, a prisoner wearing a green triangle, gave away a loaf. When prisoners lined up for their food, so much had been stolen fifteen rations were missing. To compensate for this, the block eldest took the 15 weakest prisoners of Block 15 to the washroom and had them strip naked. He then made each one drown the man in front of him, and then be drowned himself until all fifteen of them were dead (139-140).Attitude of Other Prisoners to Murders
Kamienski testified that although the screams of those being bathed-to-death could be heard as far away as roll-call square, those prisoners who worked ten hours hard labor would come back to camp so tired they could barely eat before falling asleep. There were two groups in the camp. One worked ten hours a day. The other were “prominent people” (144) prisoners had free time and spent it playing soccer or playing cards and “did not have time to discuss the murders in the camps. Some of them, only those of the group of intelligent people, showed some interest in that regardless whether they had a position or not” (144). Only “special occasions, executions, shooting” (144) were generally discussed by prisoners. While prominent prisoners, who were mostly German until 1942 when some Poles were given positions as block clerks, could play soccer on Sunday, the only spectators where block elders. Everyone else was resting. Polish prisoners were also doctors or technical people (145). Many prisoners knew about the murders in the washrooms, but few new the details (149).
Testimony of Joseph Kowalski (June 13 & 16, 1947)
Joseph Kowalski, a thirty seven year old locksmith and Polish national living in Linz at the time of the trial, was called as a witness for the prosecution (10). Before the war he worked “at a Polish Magistrate” (38) At Gusen, where he was a prisoner from August 2, 1940, to May 5, 1945 (10), he carried stones, “put stones together as a plasterer,” worked as a locksmith, as a stonemason, and transported coal to the SS barracks in a wheelbarrow. He was assigned to different details often, sometimes every few days or so, until 1943 when he was permanently assigned to be a stone mason. He worked inside both the protective custody camp and the SS camp. He constructed the brothel for prisoners as well as the brothel for the SS. Once put in a punishment detail for carrying too few stones, he also transportedstones “for the construction of the tunnel” (48-49).
Kowalski worked as a stone cutter in the large hall (12) which was elevated seven or eight meters above ground. This gave him a good view for fifteen or twenty meters. In the summer the stonemasons worked outside the hall to avoid the dust inside (12). Kowalski identifies Seidler as the camp commandant (10), and the SS roll-call leader at the time he worked in the stonemasons’ hall was Kiedermann. He says the first roll-call leader was Brust, the second was Damaschke, and the third was Kiedermann (13). While these men were in charge of large guard details, Schuettauf was in charge of the “distribution of the guards” (10), especially detail leaders and guard leaders who guarded the prisoners (13).
Schuettauf was in charge of a guard company outside the main compound of Gusen. There was a total of three or four guard companies of which Schuettauf eventually became commander. He was called “General Bauch” at this time (40) which means “Belly” (50). No guards were allowed into the camp or allowed to look in the camp except for the roll-call leader, the block leaders, and the men from the post office or guards taking part in executions (40). The prisoners would line up inside the camp on Roll-Call Square in their different details and the guards would take charge of the men as they came out of “camp 1 or camp 2, those camps surrounded by guards” (41). “In the case of larger details, for instance, St. Georgen, where bricks were made, and also the stone quarry outside the camp, there was a detail leader, there were guards, and there was also a guard commander” (41). Once prisoners arrived on the worksite, the guards were stationed around the detail to guard them and the detail leader walked among the men, showing them what to do along with civilian workers. Prisoners were prohibited from approaching guards (41). There was a wire around the Gusen Quarry, but not in all places and it was located at a great distance from the quarry (44).
Although guards were also prohibited from approaching prisoners, when they were changed every two hours or so, guards often beat prisoners, sometimes to death. Volksdeutsche Polish guards who had been drafted into the “army” (42) at the end of the war often talked to prisoners, Kowalski reports, and they said that guards were rewarded with cigarettes or furloughs for beating or shooting prisoners (42). Once the head of the Fire Guard, Gaertner, chased a prisoner toward the wire in order that he be shot (49) by guards posted on the tower between Blocks 17 and 9. The guard did not shoot the prisoner, however, but shot at Gaertner, who fled. A Ukrainian guard named Matejo told Kowalski that Gaertner was motivated by the hope that he would receive cigarettes from the guard (50).
From 1941 on Kowalski saw and heard Schuettauf order executions of prisoners (12) and order the detail leaders as to the treatment of prisoners (11). Most often, executions would be ordered in the afternoons, but Schuettauf stood in front of the Jourhaus in the mornings and afternoons when details were put together and guards were assigned (12). Kowalski also recalls Schuettauf giving orders to the guards standing in “front of the office between the barracks and the kitchen.” This happened most often in the afternoon (12). While Kowalski could not always hear Schuettauf’s exact words over the sound of the stonemasons’ hammers (13), he did see Schuettauf observing prisoners being kicked and beaten with rifle butts (14)
Kowalski recalls that the guards were not always given directions by Schuettauf, but when he did address the guards, the prisoners were beaten and some dead prisoners were brought back to camp from the work details, perhaps two or three out of 25 (14-16). In March or April of 1942, Kowalski saw Series [spelled Ziereis in connection with same incident on page 46] talk to Schuettauf near the kitchen between the “barracks with walls” (17) barracks 6 and 7 (46). He saw two men shot to death (17) behind the kitchen by six guards led by Schuettauf (46). Although the block leader chased Kowalski and other prisoners away, Kowalski heard Schuettauf give orders and then heard further shots. Kowalski also saw Schuettauf give orders when five Russian prisoners-of-war were shot in 1942 (17) and five young Poles under the age of 15, stone cutters, in 1944 (18). Nine times in Kowalski’s recollection prisoners were shot in this manner, sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon, after having to partially strip. Prisoners would be called out during morning roll call to either be shot or taken to Mauthausen (53). There were seven or eight executions near the crematorium in 1944. One involved the execution of seven young Poles (55).
Grill and the Mail
Kowalski testifies that from the time he first saw him in 1941, Wilhelm Grill was a staff or technical Sergeant of the SS. Grill was in charge of censoring the mail which Polish inmates sent to or received from Poland (18). Kowalski never entered the post office himself but was told that Grill was in charge by the clerk who also told prisoners that Grill could give them 25 lashes for writing something that was not allowed in a letter (66). Grill would steal bread and sausages from the prisoners’ packages and give them to the hierarchy of personnel in the camp (21) (79), as well as other SS, and sometimes to “permanent” prisoners or prisoners who had special jobs in the camp (20-21). The number of packages that arrived at the camp was from 20 to 500 a day, up to 1800 a month, but prisoners got only one or two a month (56). Despite a 1942 order that heavy laborers should receive extra food from these packages, Kowalski recalls that this only happened for a short space of time (58). The Red Cross packages which he believed came from Switzerland (87) were also pilfered toward the end of 1943 and during 1944, although of the 2,000 men who worked in the stone quarry as well as those who worked at the tunnels, only a few received extra rations from the packages (58). One of Kowalski’s friends got Red Cross package with a packet of cigarettes, one or two tins and dry bread. He felt that most of the package had been stolen (79).
Grill also took inmates to the baths. In January of 1942 Kowalski saw the block leader of Block 32 [unnamed] lead invalid inmates to the showers. Brust, accompanied by roll-call leader Brust and Jetz [sic] who may have been the work-commitment leader” (19) made the prisoners take cold showers and ordered them to “stand and fall down and stand and fall down” in the cold water. All the SS present beat the inmates. Grill is said to have carried a whip made out of an oxtail or a stick. Perhaps 25 to 30 inmates died on this occasion. The corpses were taken to the washrooms of Blocks 22, 23, and 24, and then in the evening to the crematorium. Kowalski saw this happen three times, once in the winter of 1941 and twice in 1942 (19). Most of these victims were Polish or Spanish prisoners (20).
Corpses from Gusen Taken to Mauthausen
Kowalski also says that when new transports arrived and the Gusen crematorium could not handle the corpses, they were taken to the Mauthausen crematorium (20). “Our crematory was burning without interruption day and night. The rest was taken on a truck in the direction towards Mauthausen” (79).
Drying Tattoos on Human Skin
Kowalski also saw Grill removing human skins with tattoos from the hospital to dry in the window of Barracks 28, where the medical personnel used to congregate (21).
Guards returning or arriving from the guard house often beat prisoners with rifle butts or kicked them if they did not work hard enough at their various commands, or if they were seen eating bread or a raw potato (74). Kowalski was twice beaten by Hartung (81). Kowalski reports that Willi Jungjohann was a work detail leader in the upper quarry where mostly Poles and Russians worked although the capos were German. Kowalski is not sure during what time frame Jungjohann held this job (21). Kowalski’s job was to transport the stones from the upper quarries of Kasten Hoffen [sic] and above that, Overbrook [sic]. Jung, as Kowalski calls him, was the leading stone cutter of the detail. He and the capos often beat prisoners, sometimes pushing them into the 20 meter deep hole. After these beatings, corpses and prisoners with broken arms and hands were set aside (21) where they could be watched (35).
In July or August 1944 (23), around noon on a sunny, pleasant day (87) Kowalski saw seven or eight American planes crash near Gusen and St. Georgen. The flyers descended with what looked to Kowalski like “balloons” (22). Two flyers landed in a field near him and he saw SS men take one of them into the Gusen guard house (22). Kowalski saw “Jung” shoot the flyer two or three times with a rifle. Although prisoners were ordered into the tunnels during the air raid, Kowalski and a few others stayed outside (23) because the guards beat prisoners in the tunnels and there were dead bodies there (86). The tunnel entrance was only 4-5 meters, and entering was often chaotic and Jung would beat men who could not go in quickly enough (23-24).
Kowalski stood on a hill in Gusen when he saw Jungjohann point his rifle toward the flyer, heard shots, and saw the flyer fall (86). Kowalski did not see the second flyer shot but heard about it later from the Czechs, Poles and Jehovah Witnesses who were shot for taking notes about the incident (87). They saw the corpse of the flyer as the SS who caught them outside the tunnel led them through the guard house. Kowalski and the other two men received 25 blows for not going into the tunnel (23).
Hartung, as Kowalski recalls, was a staff Sergeant and detail leader in the Kasten Hofen [sic] Quarry and detail leader of the stone masons (28). He once beat an American prisoner whom he thought had cut off a bolt in an act of sabotage. It is not clear what was done with the man. “The next day they brought him back to the stone quarry until up to the toilet” [sic] (29). The man was starved to death in front of the prisoners over the course of the next six days (29).
Kowalski remembers Tandler was a noncommissioned officer in 1941. Tandler was in charge of Blocks 13, 14, 15, and 16 where Russian POWs were kept. Block 16 was used as an invalid block. These prisoners were not allowed to go into the main camp. In March or April of 1942, 156 Russian prisoners were gassed to death under Tandler’s direction (24). Jetz, Zeidler [sic], Brust, and Slupescky (in a Tyrolean outfit) were also present during the gassings, which took place at approximately 10:00 am while half the camp was being de-loused. Camp Commandant Chmielewski was also there at 11:30. Guards made sure that stronger inmates could not escape the gassing inside the block. In the afternoon, Slupescky announced the prisoners were dead. The next day they were taken to the crematorium on carts (25).
In 1942 and 1943 Tandler was present as an interpreter when Russian POWs were hung for trying to escape (25-26). Another time Tandler gave a Russian POW 25 blows in the middle of Roll-Call Square and then, after Seidler ordered the prisoner taken to the crematorium, Tandler drowned him in a barrel of water in Barracks 4, forcing him to admit he had tried to escape on the coal car (26, 88).
Kowalski also recalls up to 650 people being gassed in 1945 (30) about eight weeks before the end of the war at around nine pm in Block 31 which was part of the dispensary (32). Kowalski observed the beginning of the gassings from between Blocks 23 and 24 (32). At that time Kowalski saw Heisig patrolling the exterior of the barracks making sure that none of the stronger prisoners was able to escape (36). Kowalski was not able to see when the doors and windows of the barracks were opened in order to air it out because a “home guard” was present all night helping the fire guard control prisoners and keeping them from leaving their barracks to do anything but go to the bathroom (33). During this incident two Poles were caught by Kirschner trying to locate the position of the Allied armies on a map. Kirschner insisted they would be gassed despite the roll-call leader’s objections [unnamed] and then forced the men to stand in front of the guardhouse for a day. Heisig and Hartung were also guarding them. As many as 650 invalids were gassed along with the two young Polish men whom Kowalski says were perfectly healthy (30). Kowalski was working on the road to Mauthausen at the time and Zeigler [sic] yelled at him for not covering up the bodies with blankets. Hartung left that afternoon on a truck carrying the dead bodies in the direction of Mauthausen. The Gusen crematorium could not handle all the dead bodies (31).
At the same time as the gassings, the block eldest and room eldest of Block 12, of which Hartung was block leader, also killed people (32). Heisig’s duties at the camp included deputy block leader, detail leader in the stone quarry, and finally a detail leader in the Messerschmidt factory (33). One afternoon before roll call in January of 1943 or February 1944 Kowalski saw Heisig, who was deputy detail leader of about 1500 to 2000 men in the stone quarry at Gusen (34), order cold water to be poured on 30-35 “already weakened” people and then ordered them loaded onto carts and thrown into the coal bunker at the guardhouse (33). These prisoners were still in civilian clothes, but a section of cloth had been cut out of the back and thigh and a piece of striped prisoner-uniform cloth was sewn in to identify them as inmates (34). Kowalski explains that Heisig ordered the dousing to be done in the “ordinary manner” (35), which is to say that water was poured on anyone who “had weakened so much that he would fall to the ground” (35). Few got up again. Sick or injured people stayed in one spot where the capos responsible for them could keep an eye on them. At roll call, they were taken on carts to the “stone bunker,” and from there they were taken in a larger cart into the camp (35).
Very few survived this sort of treatment, perhaps one in two hundred. “People at Gusen who were too weak to work or to run were brought into a block of invalids where they later on were gassed or killed or bathed-to-death” (36).
Breakfast was coffee. At mid-day prisoners received one liter to one and a half liters of soup. In the evening they were given one-third or one-quarter loaf of bread. Sometimes they received a small piece of sausage, a little margarine or a little piece of cheese. On Saturdays they were given a bit of jam and a spoonful of cottage cheese (80).
In 1940-41 prisoners donated money for the canteen, for which they signed up during roll call. In 1943 and 1944 50 to 100 Reichmarks were taken out of prisoners pay for plates, spoons and forks. If Kowalski earned 60 RM a month, he was given five coupons. Kowalski reports that his wage varied from 30, 32, or 40 RM per month, and he was given 2 or 3 percent of those wages in coupons. No money could be sent home. He was occasionally given beets or “three potatoes” in addition to coupons (82).
Testimony of Gotthard Krause (June 19, 1947)
Gotthard Krause, a forty-seven year old construction specialist working for Landrat, Neustadt Huardt was called as a witness for the defense (225). Before the war, he was convicted of high treason and served four years, from 1933 until 1937, in a penitentiary. After his release, he was taken in 1938 to Buchenwald, was transferred to Mauthausen in 1940 (226). He was at Gusen from late 1940 (225) to December 1943 (226) when he was transferred to Auschwitz. In January 1945, as the Russians advanced, he was again evacuated to Gusen II.
First placed on the “snow detail” at Gusen, he spent November and December 1940 and January 1941 “taking care of the transport of snow” (226) until he was made block clerk of Block 23, the “block of Spaniards” (227). He later moved to Block 2, where prisoners who had special duties in the camp, such as canteen duties or clerk duties, lived (231). In addition to being Block 2’s clerk, he was assigned to the mailroom. His assignment to the mailroom was unofficial, however. “The labor-service leader and the roll-call leader didn’t make any objections to this work of mine, but the camp commander wasn’t permitted to know about it because no prisoner was allowed to work in the mail room” (244). He remained there until summer 1943 when he went to work as a specialist on construction detail on sanitary installations outside the camp, work in which he had specialized as a civilian (231).Spaniards
At the time he was clerk of Block 23, he says four thousand Spaniards arrived in Gusen I and they were “distributed over some of the blocks” (227). At the time, he estimates there were perhaps six or seven thousand prisoners in KZ Gusen I (227).German Prisoners in Gusen I 1942
Krause estimates the number of German prisoners in Gusen in 1942 to be 600 to 800 out of a “total strength of 9000” (246).Camp Hierarchy: Prisoners and SS
As block clerk, he kept up to date lists of prisoners, their religions, their work details and reported the causes of deaths as well as passed along slips about the food. “That means I had to take care of all clerical work which had to do with these prisoners in their relations to the camp commander” (227). “If a prisoner was lost, we filled out two slips which went to the camp office, and in our personal book which we kept in the block we entered behind the name, deceased, then and then” (269). Each prisoner contacted the block clerk about his rations, work detail, and need for hospitalization. If there were arguments or if a prisoner broke the rules or stole bread “we were a close community” (228) and “there were slaps handed out” (228). Krause affirms the defense council’s suggestion that “prisoners told the block clerks everything that came into their minds and hearts” (228).
As block clerk, Krause’s duties took him to the camp clerk’s office three times a day where he had “exclusive” (228) contact with the camp clerk and his assistants who were under the supervision of the roll-call leader (228-229). The Gusen death register was kept by Camp Clerk Nos. 1 and 2 (275).
Roll-call leaders were responsible to the first and second camp leaders. Krause agrees with the defense counsel that, in relationship to the camp commanders’ daily contacts, there was similarity between the roll-call leaders’ duties and the duties of the adjutant of a regimental colonel. Similarly, the second camp leaders could be considered the camp leaders’ adjutants along with the roll-call leaders, labor-service leaders and labor-commitment leaders (229).SS Administration at KZ Gusen I
Ziereis was Camp Commander (240). Chmielewski was the Camp Leader until “around the change of 1941 and 1942” (230) when he was sent to Herzogen-Busch and replaced by Seidler who remained in command until Krause “returned in 1945. He was there until the end” (230). Krause reports that when he returned in January 1945, Chmielewski was there again “but not anymore as camp leader” (230). The Second Camp Leaders were Lowicz and Beck (230). Krause identifies SS Technical Sergeant Kiedermann, Damaschke [sic], Kluge, and Brust as the different Roll-call leaders and tentatively identifies Gross as one as well (229).SS Guard Companies
There were four guard companies that were under the supervision of SS Lieutenant Colonel Obermayer, and the names of the officers in these guard companies are Schmutzler, Rismer, Vaessen, and Buler, although he also says they “changed in between” [object of preposition unclear] (234). In relation to furloughs given to guards, Krause is unsure who had the final decision. It might have been Obermayer or even Ziereis because he recalls several orders for furloughs or leaves arrived from Mauthausen (235).
Neither Obermayer or other guard leaders had much to do with prisoners in Krause’s memory (234).“Real Camp,” “Large Camp,” Chain of Guards, and Work Details
Krause defines the “real camp” as the camp within the electric fence and the wall. He defines the “large camp” as including the SS barracks and the workshops. When prisoners were working in the quarry, a large “guardening detail” [sic] (236) or chain of guards was required. Thus, during the day, the SS barracks were surrounded by the chain of guards, but at night only the protective custody camp was surrounded by guards (236).
In the morning, prisoners would be on Roll-Call Square inside the protective custody camp. At the order “Work details fall out,” (236) the details would form and the labor service leader would be given a report of their “numerical strength” (237). After this, those who worked outside the guard chain left with a special guard detail (237). Those details working in the quarry, inside the “large guard chain” (237) left with only a detail leader and capo. The large guard chain would have formed “in front there” (237) and formed a column to march to their stations either along the “normal street” (237) through which a path had been made and to the right of which was a hilly area up which one could see them climb. After that, “the guard details moved in every direction, one to the right, one to the left, one to the back, and so on” sometimes through the quarry itself. (238). The guard companies alternated duties daily. One would take out prisoners to be watched by others stationed along the chain of guards and then remain on alert (239).
Krause reports that guards had little influence over prisoners. However, if a work detail “got a bad reputation through the camp commander and then special command details were organized with the dog detail, etc.” (238). This happened frequently and when it happened there were always a few dead bodies in the evenings (238).Schuettauf and Prisoners
As Krause recalls, the prisoners never had any connection with the accused Schuettauf (238). Schuettauf had just one general reputation among the prisoners, that of General Belly. Krause testifies that Schuettauf did not have any influence on the work details as far as the carrying out of the work was concerned (239). He also goes on to say that he never heard the name Schuettauf in connection with any incidents of inmates getting worked to death (238) or in connection with the executions that took place in Gusen (242).
Krause does recall seeing Schuettauf within the protective custody camp in the morning when he would approach the desk of the labor-service leader to get instructions for the guard details.Executions
Krause also recalls seeing Shuettauf within the protective custody camp when the entire administrative staff was present for executions. Krause witnessed six or seven such executions by shooting or hanging. On these occasions Ziereis would order the execution and the entire camp would be assembled (240) in the evenings and an announcement would be made about why the man was to be hanged (241). In regard to the hangings, these were carried out in the Roll-Call Place where an arm had been attached to one of the two electric light poles there. A rope was thrown over this arm (240). Krause gives the example of a Russian who had tried to escape. A table was carried by prisoners, a rope was placed on the table, and the man had to get on top of it. This was done in the presence of the entire camp and headquarters staff (241).
Krause witnessed two shootings and heard a few others. He states that six SS men carried out the shootings at Gusen between the two stone blocks, Nos. Six and Seven before which was a pile of gravel and bricks which were used to catch the bullets (241). He believes that it was probably the duty of the command leader to select the execution detail, and that this was an assignment of the guard company (242). Krause explains that the execution was witnessed by “the company leader, camp leaders and the command, the physician, and perhaps one or two people from headquarters staff which were interested in this business” (242). He recalls that SS Schmitt, Vaessen and Riemer were present at one time or the other. During the executions the neighboring barracks were evacuated and prisoners were not allowed to leave their blocks (242). Prisoners in the kitchen, the “so-called delousing institute” (243), and the quarry could still observe the executions and witnesses would discuss them with other prisoners for some days (243).
When an execution was going to take place, everyone in the camp knew about it. Such events were commonly discussed amongst the prisoners, along with the names of the SS men who participated, although Krause could not remember any of them. Krause says that the possibility to witness these shootings existed, first by personnel who had stayed behind in the kitchen, then by those in the delousing institute was quite close to the execution place. Furthermore, one could look into the execution place from the stone quarry Gusen (243).Wilhelm Grill and the Mail Room
After getting moved from Block 23, the “Block of Spaniards,” to Block 2, Krause worked in the mailroom unofficially, in addition to being the block clerk. Krause was assigned to the mail room where he would work under SS Staff Sergeant Wilhelm Grill (244). Although Krause never became friendly with Grill (249), he does state that he got closer with him because of the close working area (244), but Krause does maintain that Grill was always the SS, and that he was always the prisoner (249).
Krause testifies that Grill was a member of the headquarters staff but was not close enough to the Camp Commander to be considered a member of the inner circle (244). He says on page 245 that Grill’s only duties involved the mailroom, but on page 277 he says that when Grill was “charge of quarters” he was “in the camp” and that he was “charge of quarters a few times” between 1941 and 1943.” Outside of the camp, Grill was working for the National Socialistic Welfare Organization (245) whose offices were opposite to the mailroom (278). Grill lived in the SS settlement, St. Georgen, about six kilometers from the camp (257). He was married and went home every evening (278).
Along with Krause and Grill in the mail room were the “so-called censors” (245). These were usually SS men who, on account of illness or some physical disability, were unable to go on duty in their companies. Prisoners were employed there as censors only when Krause was working: “I was a German, a Spaniard, Amadea Zinkervrell, a Pole, Marian Schiffzcyk, then the Pole, Edward Cynajek, then Stanislaw Nogaj, and then there was an Austrian employed, I don’t remember his name anymore (245).
Krause recalls that the camp’s postal guidelines and regulations for Gusen were established by SS Altfuldisch at Mauthausen (246). The instructions were brought to the knowledge of the prisoners by being “printed on each letterhead” (246). Also, block clerks and other block personnel gave this information to the new arrivals when they entered the camp (247).
Originally, the letters could be twelve lines long, the same number as lines on each page (247). But when the one or two censors (whom Grill assisted when he had time) had to censor 400 to 500 letters, the workload and accompanying “technical reasons” (247) necessitated Grill to order the “so-called short letter” (247) which Altfuldisch ordered at Mauthausen as well (251).
Prisoners were allowed to write two letters a month, and some prisoners tried to give hidden messages in their letters. These prisoners were punished directly with five to ten blows with a stick or just a few slaps to the face (248). If official reports were made of the violation of the general postal rules, the individual would receive twenty-five blows or would have been sent to the punishment company (248).
Krause himself testifies to being punished for handing out a letter to prisoner Rudi Meixner uncensored, a letter which Grill had seen already (249). Krause’s punishment for this was ten blows with a stick. This violation, in the understanding of the SS, might have involved the exchange of messages endangering the security of the camp would normally be punished by a transfer to a punishment detail after a report to the camp commander. However, Grill only reported him to Roll-Call Leader Brust. Grill, Brust and Reitloff decided that Krause would only receive ten blows with the stick (249) and that he could stay in the mail room after this event (250).
When asked how many packages the camp received, he states “I don’t know the exact number, but per month there were 1800 to 2000. Months around Christmas time, of course, we had more” (252).
Usually two SS men, SS Staff Sergeant Grill, or SS Corporal Reitloff, or SS Iffert and two inmates, handled the packages as soon as they arrived in camp (252). When packages arrived, if they were damaged prisoners entered the item in a special log in the presence of “of the woman who delivered the mail. The entries had to be made then because the Postal Office had to make good for insured packages” (275). Originally, the censoring was done in a room in the headquarters building, and then in a special room within the camp (253).
In 1942, the camp administration ordered that “a part of the contents of the packages had to be removed when the packages were censored and these contents were to be kept separately for special uses” (252). There was a limit as to quantity allowed per prisoner of certain items, but Krause says this rule was never adhered to (253). “The inmate would open the packages, the SS man checked the content of the package for forbidden articles, then the part to be removed was removed, and the other contents of the package returned to the package, and the package went to the mail room for distribution” (253) to the inmates after evening roll call by “either Grill, Reitloff, or Iffert from the mail room, and from the headquarters staff, either the camp leader himself, or the roll-call leader, or some person detailed for this duty” (253).
The items removed were distributed among prisoners who did not receive any packages or as “a premium for work” (254)) or for having been “especially industrious” (254). Krause states that the distribution of the removed items was done on order of Security Camp Leader SS Captain Chmielewski. This was done fairly without respect of the camp hierarchy, but allows that in some cases certain prisoners might have taken advantage of their position (253). He then states that Roll-Call Leader Killerman or Seidler might order the prominent people in the camp to receive extra food simply because they were favored, not because they did heavy labor (254). He himself received items from packages every evening because, the SS reasoned, it was better to give him and the other postal workers items than to have them steal them (278). Krause reports that it was possible prisoners saw packages of food being taken to the Jourhaus with mostly cigarettes and chocolates (274).
Krause recalls that there were cases of inmates believing Grill had ordered parts of their packages be removed and either kept, or given to other inmates, but these persons were then informed of their error (254). Along with articles getting removed to give to other inmates, there were some articles that were removed and were taken to the Jourhaus for the sole use of the SS (255). These were on some special order that had nothing to with Grill. These were incidents that just happened arbitrarily: a Block Leader would just come in and “organize” something (255). The block leaders had much more freedom of movement than Grill, who worked in the mail room all day, because block leaders could come as they pleased. In addition, block leaders could have punished the prisoners working in the mailroom if they had complained (272). On page 255, Krause says that Grill never enriched himself in that manner, but the inmates did complain to him about the removal of articles from their packages (255). On page 270, Krause says that he could not say if Grill did or did not take items for his personal use, but that if Grill did, it was not when Krause was present (270).
In Grill’s defense, Krause says that prisoners seeing packages of the deceased or packages that had been misaddressed and therefore were undeliverable carried from the mailroom assumed that these were packages intended for them (267). Red Cross packages were sent to the addressee, usually “Red Spaniards” (278).Prisoner Buyer
Krause relates that he was a “prisoner buyer” when he was in the mailroom. In explaining how much power the block leaders had over prisoners, he says, “Another example of how I worked---for a time I was the camp buyer. If I had for example bought tobacco for the inmates and this tobacco wasn’t in my block, the block leader comes in and takes for himself two or three or even four packages, I couldn’t say anything about it though the packages would be missing because if he didn’t punish me immediately, the next day he would find fault with me and punish me for sure. I couldn’t possibly save myself” (272).Chmielewski and Night Beatings
There were rumors of Chmielewski going through the prisoner billets between one and two o’clock at night. The name Grill was once mentioned in connection with these rumors. Krause states that it was possible that Grill might have had night duty in the Jourhaus, but if so, he would have then had to report to the mailroom the next morning as usual. He did not live in the SS barracks but in St. Georgen. Although he heard once from a block clerk that Grill had been involved in an episode with Chmielewski when prisoners’ barracks were entered at night, he could not remember which block clerk he had heard this from (257-58).Bathing-to-Death
According to Krause, the first showers were constructed after the crematory in 1942. There is some misunderstanding as Krause seems to be saying at first that there were two “bath houses” (232), one uncovered “with only pipes installed, without a roof. The second one was constructed later on, and came then into a covered building” (232). Later, he clarifies this by saying “I am not talking about two adjacent barracks, but one was made out of the other. The picture is like that, the first bathroom was used as a foundation for the second. At first there was nothing but a cold water shower there, one large basin. Later it was made into a dressing room, a shower room, and a heating plant. Thereby being used as a foundation” (267-268). The water heater, installed in 1942, reduced the number of people who were murdered in the baths (279).
The open shower existed in 1941 and many prisoners met there deaths there (268). The bathhouse in 1942 began as a building without walls, then boards were put around it and still later it was covered (268). The covered bathhouse was a simple 15 or 16 meter-wide by 9 meter-long room without any of “the secret installations that perhaps existed in other camps” (233) by which he testifies that he meant “gassing installations” (233). People entered to undress through a double door and then went through a single door because “the people were always counted when they entered a room” (233). Looking in, one could only see the doors prisoners passed through in order to undress, not the inner room where they bathed (233). “Inside the bath house, there was a sort of basin formed with a depth of about sixty to eighty centimeters in the shower room. The drains could not drain the water as fast as the showers got the water in the room, and if a person fell down on the drain and stopped the drain, the water would rise quite high. If the persons were weak, they simply drowned in the water” (258).
Usually, when inmates in a block heard the orders “Fall out for bathing” (260), they would strip and then go to the bathhouse. No one led them to the bathhouse. “The healthy ones arrived there first, and the sick and weak ones stumbled behind and they were generally the ones who remained there.” If the SS personnel arrived to supervise, the inmates then knew what was going to happen because usually the inmates took the baths alone (260). The order to bath happened several times a week, and the number of “so-called baths” (261) happened so frequently that he could not give a number (261).
Krause tells that he learned of such events only hours afterwards because the inmates had to carry away the bodies and the block clerks had to go there to make the identification of the bodies (258). One evening in 1942 around nine or ten at night, Krause was in the dispensary and heard “quite a bit of hollering outside. To my question, what was going on there, I was told the SS are bathing inmates again” (258). At that time Krause was not a block clerk, as he was sick in the dispensary, but he maintains that all of the block clerks knew about these incidents because they had to identify and register the bodies that other inmates had taken from the showers. These incidents were generally talked about among the inmates (259).
Krause said he could not personally identify any of the defendants in this trial as having been involved in bathing-to-death and had never heard any of the defendants names mentioned in relation to bathing-to-death (261). Schmitt, Jungblut and Jentsch were mentioned as having participated, and Krause says he knew personally that Killerman was involved once (259). Krause also explains, “Jentsch was one of the persons in the camp who was a beater and liked to handle his ox tail whip” (260). He knew Damaschke was present, being the Roll-Call leader at the time (260).Gassing of Russian POWs
Krause heard of gassings in Gusen but only remembered the time 132 Russians were gassed in Block 16. That night, Krause’s block was ordered to leave their clothes behind and go to sleep in another block (262), and then their block was gassed, something he recalls happening three times in all his experience in Gusen I. Later they heard that a physician had ordered Russian Block Number 16 to be “deloused” as well, by which he ironically meant gassed (262). That night, when he arrived at his temporary quarters, a “block in the twenties” (263), he heard that the Russians in Block 16, who were suffering from minor ailments, had been told they, too, would be deloused, but that they were to stay in place (263-264). “They were told that that if the gas would cause them to sneeze they should simply pull their blankets over their faces and that would stop” (264). The next morning at roll call 132 of them were announced to have died in Block 16. The only name Krause recalls connected to this was Dr. Kiesuwuetter (264), a Czech SS man whose last name had been Germanized who was camp doctor in 1942 (275).Hartung
Hartung, who lived with Schoenewolf in the SS non-commissioned officers home outside the camp, worked in the “telephone central” (265). He was not prohibited from entering the camp but, as far as Krause recalls, had no reason to enter it (265).Jews at Gusen 1943
Krause testifies that there were Jews in Gusen in 1943 (265).Americans at Gusen
Krause does not recall any Americans at Gusen I (266) and does not recall the name of Willi Tuttas (274)Tandler and the Young Russians
Oscar Tandler was the block leader of the young Russians in Block 24. Krause recalls that Tandler was often called the Father of the Russians because “while he was very strict with the young Russians, he did try to educate them” (266). He would bring in the camp band to the block and teach the young Russians marching songs. Krause says, “It was surprising for us old persons who were never allowed to sing somewhat surprising to see these young Russians marching through the camp singing the German marching song, ‘Erika’” (266). Krause also reports that Tandler argued with Block Eldest Ernst Halle over Halle’s failure to properly carry out his duties and maybe even have reported Halle at one point (266). He does not recall hearing of an incident in which young Russians were shot, nor does he recall hearing an incident in which Hartung was said to have either beaten or drowned young Russians (266).The Russians
According to Krause, the first transport of Russians arrived in the end of 1941 and were put on stone quarry detail. Those that survived the stone quarry labor were later gassed by March or April of 1942. A sign was even placed on the barracks that read “Prisoners of War” (270-271). As a block clerk, Krause knew it was not out of the norm at Gusen to have six, seven, even ten deaths a night, but in Block 16, where Russians were held in the winter of 1941 and spring of 1942, 20, 25 or even 30 deaths a day was not unusual (270).Spotted Fever
The delousings were an attempt to control fleas and insects in the barracks. Due to these fleas, spotted fever broke out in the camp in 1941, and Krause was infected himself in 1942. Altogether, 70 or 80 people died according to Krause, 8 of them Krause’s close friends (275). Once the heated water was available, deaths diminished because prisoners were more likely to wash. Before, they were “filthy and full of fleas and lice because nobody wanted to get under that cold water” (279).Construction of Crematory 1942
According to Krause, there was no crematory at Gusen when he arrived there in 1940. Commander Ziereis ordered the construction of the crematory at Gusen (234) in 1942 (232) to burn the corpses of the people who had died on account of undernourishment because the crematory at Linz could no longer accommodate them (234).
Testimony of Anton Ledderstatter (June 18, 1947)
Anton Ledderstatter, a German mason from Munich, was in Mauthausen and Gusen from August of 1940 until the liberation (219) because he was a Christian Scientist although “the Nazi special report says ‘for offenses against people and state’” (224). He worked in the administration buildings in St. Georgen and then in the carpentry shop in Gusen (220).Various Defendants
Ledderstatter recalls that at time Heisig was deputy detail leader of his detail [unclear if this is in St. Georgen or Gusen] (220), he saw him slap a prisoner and beat another with a stick badly but “he was not too bad” (221).
Ledderstatter recalls Schuettauf giving orders to the guards standing in front of the Jourhaus (221) outside of the camp. “We had a little fun about him standing there because we knew he had been a parson at one time” (221). He was known as General Bauch. Ledderstatter does not recall hearing him give orders to the guards nor if Schuettauf ever had anything to do with work details (221).
Ledderstatter once received three pictures in the mail which was against the rules, but was not punished by Grill (222).
Ledderstatter recalls that Jungjohann always carried a stick and personally witnessed him beat prisoners on several occasions (222)
On 25 July 1944 Ledderstatter saw seven American flyers shot down during an air raid on the Herman Goering works [in Linz]. An American major with shrapnel wounds in his stomach was interrogated by Seidler then taken not to the SS dispensary but to Dr. Vetter in the prisoner dispensary who also interrogated him. The American died several days later (222). He did not hear if any of the other American flyers were beaten (223).
Ledderstatter reports that he only knew Tandler as “the Father of the Russians” (223). Of the six defendants, he says that in comparison with other guards Ledderstatter thought they were generally tolerable. “It may be that some of these did somewhere something else that I or we do not know about but so far as is known to me, they were tolerable” (223). He declines to say that Grill was one of the worst and says he did not know Hartung closely. He does not recall any of them being nicknamed “the Beast” (223).
Testimony of Heinrich Lutterbach (June 18, 1947)
Heinrich Lutterbach was a 38 year old German national from Munich. He is not sworn in as a witness but makes a statement instead (205). A Jehovah’s Witness (218), Lutterbach was an inmate of Gusen I from October 1941. He first worked in the stone quarry and then in the camp office (206) as a clerk (211). When he became ill in January 1942, he was transferred from the stone quarry office outside the camp to the administrative offices inside the camp (211).Block 2 Main Office
The main offices of the Gusen I were in Barracks 2. “A small part of it was the office and then came the parcel distribution room and the rest of the barracks was taken up by living quarters for inmates” (211).Young Russians
Lutterbach lived in Blocks 24, 1 and 3 (206). He first lived in Block 3, a stone quarry block, and then in Block 24 “where only young Russians lived” (12) although later Poles and Germans were added, and finally he lived in Block 1 (12). While the young Russians were originally spread over other blocks, eventually they were put in Block 24 where there were some Ukrainians and Poles, as well, who were put there because of their youth (212). Their ages ranged from 16-20, 21 or 22 (217). He reports that the Germans in Block 24 who were put in positions of authority over the other nationalities did not always treat them well. These Germans were also favored by the SS like Tandler, who was block leader, and Heisig (213). He knew Heisig as deputy block leader of Block 24, Tandler’s Block (208) and does not recall that he had a bad reputation in this block (209).
Lutterbach was a room eldest of Block 24 (216) but says that at Gusen, unlike other camps, the room eldest worked outside the block. The administration of the block was all done by the block eldest (217), in the case of Block 24, by a German a-social named Ernst Halle (217). Lutterbach also lived with the young Russians, and testified that he could say nothing against Tandler for his treatment of the young Russians (206-207) and that he was called “Father of the Young Russians.” Lutterbach, a musician, recalls teaching the young Russians songs which they sang on order of the camp administration (207). He taught them to sing different songs out of a song book at intervals over a period of months but could not remember which songs he taught them (213).Grill and the Mail
Lutterbach also recalls that Ziereis “made known” on Roll-Call Square that inmates were not to get more than two days of food from their parcels (208).
Lutterbach testifies that most packages came into the camp unopened and were opened in the camp, but he does not know if the contents were given to the SS (214). Although he remembers Grill as an SS Master Sergeant, he has nothing to say against him (215).Schuettauf and the Chain of Guards
He recalls that Schuettauf had the nickname “General Bauch” (209) and that he was in charge of the guards. There was an order that all SS but camp administrators, such as detail leaders and block leaders, were forbidden from entering the camp. Although these men also did guard duty at times outside the camp, they were directly under the “security camp headquarters” (210). Lutterbach seldom went on outside details himself and so could not testify as to Schuettauf’s treatment of prisoners, but said Schuettauf had a bad reputation in the camp (210). He believed Obermayer was Schuettauf’s superior over the guards (210-211).
He recalls SS Staff Sergeant Jungjohann as a block leader but has nothing to say against him. He also recalls SS Sergeant Hartung as a block leader and later the head of the camp’s fire brigade but cannot testify about his treatment of prisoners (216).Gassings of Russian Prisoners-of-War
Lutterbach recalls hearing about gassings and beatings at Gusen I caused by the SS belief that prisoners should not live if they could not work. He also recalls a large transport of Russians arrived in the camp in November or December 1941. They were quarantined for “a while” (218) and then sent out to work after which a large number of them died. Tandler, because he spoke Russian, was block leader of this group. He recalls hearing that a number of them were concentrated into a block and gas canisters were thrown in, but he did not witness this himself (218).
Testimony of Eric Schuettauf (June 19, 1947)
Eric Schuettauf, a 60-year-old technician, native of Dresden, Germany, finished technical school in Vienna at 18. He was a non-commissioned officer in the World War I. Between 1918 and 1933 he worked in steel and heating plants, before “becoming interested in the manufacture of chocolate”(287) and after 1920 he worked as a technical leader in one. He states, “The last 25 years I worked as a technician in a chocolate factory” (287). He was drafted in 1939 within 24 hours of the start of World War II, despite protests from the chocolate factory and his own concerns about his health (287-288). Prior to this, he says he never took part in any military training but belonged to a “motor company of the General SS” (288). At the age of 54, he was sent to a guard company at the Concentration Camp Flossenbuerg as an SS Tech Sergeant, where he remained until December 1941 (288-289). He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in April or May of 1940 when “the Reich’s leader” [sic] (289) visited Flossenbuerg and promoted him on the spot without ever having gone to officer’s training school (289). As a result of his complaints about his poor health, he says he was transferred to Mauthausen and then to Gusen I in December 1941 where he stayed with the exception of June-August 1944 when he was sent to Vienna (289) on the order of Ziereis (290) to “install a camp for Afa” (289) at Floridsdorf (290). There he supervised prisoners transferred from Schwechat [sic]. He had complained again about his health was examined for two days and declared unfit for work, but the diagnoses was ignored and he was transferred anyway (290).
He was commander of First Guard Company at Gusen I (290), later named 19th Guard Company (313). In November of 1943 or January of 1944 he was promoted to First Lieutenant. He performed the duties of officer of the day for a week, which included checking SS quarters and the SS guard details (311).Duties of Guard Companies at Gusen I
The four Gusen SS guard companies were under SS Major Obermeier [sic]or his deputy SS First Lieutenant Mueller. Mueller was chosen as deputy by Ziereis, who didn’t like Schuettauf (291). The guard companies rotated responsibilities thus: One day, guard duty, then supply the chain of guards, then take charge of “out details” (291) or prisoner details who worked outside the chain of guards (291). The fourth day was for “training, sport” (291).
Prisoners in the quarry details (294) were accompanied only by their block leaders and capos because these worked within the chain of guards (295). Detail leaders and block leaders were subordinate to the commandant of the protective custody camp (296).
Enlisted men in the guard companies requested furloughs and leave from guard commanders who then passed the requests to Obermeier. Ziereis had the final say. They were signed either by Ziereis or Obermeier. They were never given to guards for killing prisoners. Guards were never given rewards for performing their duties to his knowledge (291).
Every day, the headquarters of the protective custody camp would request the guard company on duty that day to furnish details. The company Sergeant would place the request for an out-detail, for instance, on the bulletin board to notify the men (292). Schuettauf says that guards were only instructed about “the general order and the special order of the camp” (296) in the guards quarters where a prisoner could only overhear if he had sneaked in (296). The guards would assemble in their details in close formation and march down to the camp and wait a few steps from the entrance. If Schuettauf was on duty, he would take the “guard mount” (292) there. The guards would have been instructed the day before about any special orders (292). Once the chain of guards was closed, they would report to Schuettauf through their commissioned and non-commissioned officers that the last man had taken his post. Schuettauf would be told as much and then he in turn would tell the protective custody camp commander that the guard chain was standing and the guards for the out details were ready. Then the prisoners would march out, beginning with the quarry details (294) accompanied only by their block leaders and capos because these would work within the chain of guards. Schuettauf says his duties pertained only to the guards, not to the prisoner details or their work. He says he never visited the quarry to observe the prisoners’ work even out of curiosity. He denies having said that the prisoners were lazy criminals and says that even if he had said such a thing, he had no power over the detail leader, who could simply have told him, That is known of your business” (295).
At no time did he witness a beating that left 25 men dead. He instructed his guards never to talk to prisoners outside the line of duty and to keep a distance of six meters from prisoners. He sometimes found these orders were violated and he reprimanded the guards and brought it to the attention of the company commander. He had no knowledge of the bunker in the Jourhaus. Any prisoner taken to the bunker was taken there on order of the custody camp leader (296).SS Officers at KZ Gusen I
While Schuettauf was commander of First Guard Company, the three SS officers Jungjohann (308,316), Heisig (308), and Grill (308) were all members of headquarters staff and were not a part of his company (316). Jungjohann had served in the company but was later transferred to headquarters staff after which time he had nothing to do with the company (316).Protective Custody Camp and Guard Companies
Schuettauf never entered the protective custody camp (311). He was not allowed under any circumstances to enter it (312), nor did he have any contact with what went on inside the camp (313). He was only permitted to go as far as the gate where he received his guard slips (311). Guard details and guard posts had to walk on a path inside the fence outside electrically charged wire (312). Guards in the chain took their posts half an hour before prisoners arrived, were relieved by the second shift of guards only once at noon, and remained in place until all prisoners were accounted for during evening roll call (312). Schuettauf claims that this made contact with prisoners impossible (313).
Even as officer of the day, he only checked the SS quarters and SS guard details (311). The protective custody camp had its own officer of the day, who performed these duties within the camp (312).The Beatings and Shooting
Schuettauf acknowledges that he saw beatings, but never a “brutal beating” (303). He might have seen Grill, Heisig, and Jungjohann beat prisoners on one occasion or another, but he cannot swear to it (303-304). He heard Grill’s name in relation to an incident in which he once beat a prisoner to the ground and another in which Grill supposedly threw prisoners out of their billeting. On page 305, Grill says that he made an earlier statement (Prosecution Exhibit P-15) having “a nervous breakdown one day” (305) after being kept in solitary confinement and then interrogated, but that he now says that he never saw this personally. He again retracts these statements regarding Grill, and Heisig, Jungjohann on page 308. He says the crowd was too big and there was too much commotion to recognize who was doing the beating (308). He denied giving orders to guards in front of “block house” (309). All orders were given in SS quarters (309). He never gave any instructions to the guard details during the day and never ordered guards to beat or mistreat prisoners in any way (309). He ordered them to stay away from the prisoners (310).
He said that guard posts around stone quarries could not have had time to beat prisoners. They arrived at their guard posts half hour before work details moved out of the camp and returned when all prisoners were accounted for at evening roll call in the protective custody camp (312). These guard posts were relieved once at noontime, while prisoners ate lunch, and once at forenoon (313). When the guards returned, the head of the detail reported to him (314).
He never received a report of brutality or shooting from a man in charge of guards (315). All out-details received their prisoners at the Jourhaus with a receipt for the number of prisoners (314). Details never returned with an injured or dead prisoner (314), and he never received a report of brutality or shooting from out-details (314). If these incidents occurred, it would have been reported to him. If shots were fired at a prisoner trying to escape, it had to be reported right away (315). Unusual events that affected work were only required to be reported to him if they occurred with guards (315).
While at Gusen I, he never saw Kowalski in camp. “His testimony is hair raising and absolutely impossible” (311).Prisoners in Quarry and Chain of Guards
Schuettauf never had contact with prisoners in the quarries so he did not know about their working conditions. Generally, he could not see into the quarries from the areas where his duties took him. “The main worksite was in Hallam. And one couldn’t really look into the quarry. One quarry in Gusen one couldn’t watch from the big semi-circle in the road. It was covered. And the upper quarry, one couldn’t see it at all. And in the general quarry there was a big mix up. There were a lot of lorries there and a lot of stone cutting mills. One really couldn’t make out anything there. I could only see that from quite a distance when I inspected the guards” (302). He knew little about what happened inside the camp and only a little about the out-details because once they left the camp, they were in charge of the detail leaders (one to every ten prisoners) and capos (303).Dead Bodies
Schuettauf never heard of large numbers of deaths in the camps because he did not have, nor could have, contact with what was going on in the camp (313). He could only go to the Jourhaus where the work lists were given out for the guards. Walking by the camp inspecting guards, he only saw prisoners loading [sic] or playing football (302). He only learned about the ways people were killed at Gusen when he was a prisoner at Dachau where the only charges made against him after three line-ups were that he had cursed prisoners, called them criminals, and prevented them from escaping by instructing the guards (297). He never saw bodies lying around the camp (314). He didn’t know why these people would be dying. Perhaps it was from undernourishment or sickness (313). He admits that some new comers and other prisoners looked undernourished, but others looked very well (313). Although guards on the chain of guards had to report to him if a prisoner tried to escape or was harmed, he never received such a report while he was at Gusen I (315).
As far as prisoner deaths on out-details, he says that out-detail guards were given a receipt for the number of prisoners they took to work and had to return the same number. In the years he was at Gusen, he never saw a prisoner returned beaten or dead. The guards would return the prisoners and say, “Guard Detail St. Georgen has returned.” If there was an accident or attempted escape, a report would have to be made to him, but he never received a report that a prisoner was shot or killed or harmed (314).Executions
Schuettauf denied going into camp and carrying out executions (310). He knew nothing about executions unless he heard about them later from Riemer or Vaessen (297). His guard company never furnished men for this duty. He did hear about two or three executions by shooting and one hanging and thinks this might have been in 1943, but he cannot be sure (300). He says on page 301 that he cannot remember who told him of such things and says he might have heard about it in the officers’ club. He did not give the orders to shoot four or five Russians in June or July or the orders to execute seven young Poles in 1944. He was not in Gusen I at that time: he was in Vienna for a camp installation (310).Deaths from Bathing and Gassing
Schuettauf knew nothing about bathing-to-death or gassing (310).Shooting of American Flyers
The murder of parachuting American flyers was not reported to Schuettauf. He learned of it on his charge sheet the next day or in his interrogation in prison after the war (297). He was in Vienna (316) from June to August 1944, living at No. 16 Elizabeth Street, and was registered with the Viennese Police (297). When he was interrogated about the flyers, he still had his “Army paybook” [sic] (299) which would have given the exact dates, but it was taken from him. He was nevertheless sure he did not leave Vienna before August 1944 because he received his ration tickets there for all three months (299). He does recognize the interrogation sheet he filled out at Dachau on which he said that he was in Vienna from June to July 30th, 1944, but he notes that he put “approximately” because he was not sure of the actual dates. The interrogation is entered as Exhibit 14 and the translation as Exhibit 14A (300). If he had been there, it would have been reported to him. In fact, he probably would have seen it because an alarm would have gone off (316). He says that other prisoners have said that he was present when enemy planes landed (316).Mail
SS Colonel Ziereis instructed that prisoners could only receive as much food as they could eat for one or two meals from their parcels, and the rest of the food was to be handed out to prisoners who worked very hard, had not received a package, or to juveniles (333).
Testimony of Stefan Szmura (July 17-18, 1947)
A Polish national living in Lipstadt, Stefan Szmura was a prisoner in Gusen I from January 27, 1941, to May 4, 1945, where he worked in the Kastenhof and Gusen quarries (154), as a stone cutter from February 1941 to March 1944 (168), in a camp detail and finally in the Holzplatz Detail (154).
While working as a stonecutter, Szmura saw the capos lead the work details to the quarry and saw the detail leaders take the guards assigned to them (168). The labor-service officer “wrote the details’ cards, that is to say how many people were to be on that detail and who would lead it and the detail leader took that guard and went out to the detail with it; and those who took details out for some distance to work had a guard detail attached to them who read the cards and I don’t know how many guards he had with him” (169). From his workplace inside the halls he could not see if officers actually gave orders, but he reports that sometimes Himmler or other top SS visited and then prisoners would be driven to work even harder (169). In answer to a question from the defense about whether he ever saw guards in the area of the stone quarry, Szmura answered, “You could see them looking uphill on one side of the Kastenhoffen” [sic] (170).
Szmura could not see what route the guards took to the quarry in the morning because they were stationed before he arrived. But the evening was different. “After the evening roll call, they just went anywhere, wherever they pleased” (171). When they were relieved during the day, they would take the most expedient route, either around the quarry or over the rocks and through the quarry to pass by the buildings and bread store (171). On one such occasion, an SS slapped Szmura for failing to take off his cap (172).Extermination and Labor
In the winter, many prisoners lost their lives in the sleet and snow and were carried back to camp. It looked like “a review of invalids” (169). They would sometimes be carried back to camp by other prisoners, one prisoner taking the legs, and sometimes taken back on a cart. At roll call, the invalids would not be able to stand but would be put on the ground in front of their blocks “...you would see them lying there, their shirts went up, their bodies would touch the bare ground and they would be lying there for an hour or more. There would be ten such invalids at least ten for every block” (170). In the winter of 1942 Russian prisoners would carry 50 dead bodies back to camp on sleds, and Chmielewski would laugh (170).Grill and the Mail
Grill would only allow five lines to be written in letters containing the words, “I am healthy. I am well off. I receive packages also money. Regards to the parents and so on, your son” (155). Szmura assumes this was Grill’s decision because he recalls being able to write four pages every other week in Mauthausen, but says that they were limited to writing once a month (155, 161). The rules regarding how many lines one could write were posted in the barracks by the block clerks who said “it was ordered” (161) and that the order came “from the orderly room” (161). Those who attempted to write more had their letters returned and some were reported, which resulted in 25 lashes across the buttocks (155). Szmura was told that even the dying in the dispensary had to write that they were well and had received their packages (174).
Packages were censored in the SS residential barracks on the other side of the Jourhaus gate. Szmura was present on one occasion near Christmas 1942 when Szmura saw Grill, prisoners, and the kitchen capo in the barracks surrounded by oranges and food from the packages. Szmura was ordered to dispose of the waste paper from the packages (175) Grill also removed cigarettes, baloney and chocolates from packages (155). Bread and margarine from the packages were given to work details, but the more valuable contents were given to capos, the firemen and the block eldests (156).
The packages were opened in Block 2 inside the protective custody camp. Prisoners Sunajek, Nogaj, and Krause worked there. Krause was clerk of Block 2, then Block 3 before working in the post office (161), and he was also room or block elder in Block 4 (172). Krause also had an affair with one of the women in the brothel which cost him his position as clerk (162). “He organized all sorts of articles from parcels which came in and carried them to his woman in the brothel” (172). Although Szmura did not see his package being opened, he says he knows the contents because his mother had written to him about them and because he saw Grill “take away a loaf of bread and part of a bologna” (162).
Szmura was not aware of any rule that prisoners should only be allowed enough food for two days (162). First Sergeant Fuessel, Master Sergeant Reichert and Block Fuehrer Iffert were not involved in censoring the packages, according to Szmura, but only in distributing them (162). Fuessel was known for taking little from the packages (176). Chmielewski and Seidler also distributed packages. The mail was distributed in the evenings only (176).Grill and Bathing-to-Death
Szmura also testifies that he knew Grill was involved in bathing invalids to death (156). One Sunday evening (163) he was in the dispensary in Block 21 and on his way back to Block 17, which was near the crematorium (163). As one left the dispensary, there was a gate between Blocks 27 and 28. Going along the road toward Roll-Call Square, facing the square, there was a bathroom to the right and a washroom for either Blocks 21 or 22 on the left (177) There was a pit, perhaps for refuse, between Blocks 31 and 24 (178). He passed the wash house and paused for a few minutes (163). Several capos were outside washing (179) and he looked in before being beaten with a stick and told to leave (163). Chmielewski (156) was present wearing a leather coat and a bent hat with a rim (179). Also present was the “at that time the roll-call leader, Gross, and then Seidler” (156). The SS were wearing green coats with darker velvet collars (179). Also present were the eldest from Block 32, the invalid block (156).
The meter wide double doors to the washroom were fixed at both sides to the ceiling and the floor with bolts. On this occasion they were both open (181) Inside the wash room water was standing to the depth of about one foot (179), red from the blood of prisoners (180). He said some of them yelled “Jesus” and “Maria” in Polish while others yelled out in Spanish. Grill, with an oxtail whip in hand, would order the prisoners “to fall down into the water and to get up and then to fall down” (156). Prisoners who tried to leave were beaten and forced to stand under “the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th shower heads and nobody was allowed to stand between the shower heads” (156). When asked what the cause of death was, Szmura says that these exhausted men were beaten and forced to stand in a cold shower in the winter of 1942 (156).
The following day, a Monday, as he was sweeping the street in front of the crematorium for a plate of food from the crematorium capo he recognized the corpses as those from the bathing episode the previous evening (163). He saw corpses with marks indicating they had been beaten (156). In addition to recognizing them the crematorium capo told him they were brought from the bathhouse (163)Tandler and the Young Russians
While working as a stone sculptor, Szmura had occasion to observe Tandler’s treatment of the young Russians who worked first in Hall 3 and then Hall 2. One Sunday afternoon (157) in May or June of 1944 a young Russian escapee was brought back to camp by Ziereis. (156) Szmura was lined up outside of Block 3 for the evening roll call and saw from a distance of perhaps three or four meters (174) as Tandler, acting as an interpreter, struck the man on the face and asked him about the escape. When the young man would not reply, a wooden horse was brought in and Tandler, Ziereis, and Chmielewski “conducted the beating” (156) across the man’s bare buttocks (156). When the man did not respond, Ziereis took Tandler’s whip and beat the man himself, then ordered that he be taken to the crematorium and shot (156) which Tandler and Seidler promptly did (157). Ziereis then drove out of the camp with his son in the car. Later Russians who worked in the crematorium said that the prisoner was in fact shot (157, 164). Although Szmura did not see how the man died or if he died, he reports that anyone who attempted to escape was killed (164).Hartung
Szmura recalls Hartung as the work leader at Kastenhof Quarry as well as the leader of the firemen and driver of a truck within the camp (158).Engineer Wolfram and Death of Willie Tuttas
In the winter of either 1943 or 1944 between Hall 1 and the blacksmith’s shop was a machine used to dig up sand which had a belt three-quarter to one centimeter thick all around it. One day the Capo Schimmel (perhaps not his real name 159) and Engineer Wolfram yelled that a piece had been cut out of this belt (158). Wolfram told Schimmel that if the perpetrator were not found he would “take up the whole spare time from noon and evening and have you exercise” (158). That afternoon Seidler, Hartung and Schimmel indicated the culprit was the American prisoner Willi Tuttas (159), a worker in the stone quarry. Hartung took him from the quarry (160), or from the “hole” (164) to “the bunker” where he starved to death after nine or ten days. The Polish stone cutter Kalemba told Szmura he had seen the corpse of the American in the crematorium with marks on his hands indicating that he had tried to eat his own flesh (160). Szmura could not say if Hartung had responsibility for the prisoner once he was in the bunker (164).SS and Selections
Although Seidler was responsible for the administration of the camp, Szmura reports that “every SS man could kill a man and do whatever he wanted and was not responsible to Seidler or anybody else. The same goes for the Germans, the block elders, and the capos. They killed people and they were not responsible for it” (165). “It was quite simply the aim of the SS to kill as many people as possible. The SS would say either you are in good health and then you can work, or you are not well, in which case you must be removed. There were no sick people here” (181). At every roll call Chmielewski, Roll-Call Leader Brust or Yentzsch [sic], whom SS prisoners called “invalid welfare officer” would select prisoners thought to be too sick to work (183). Szmura recalls one Saturday afternoon in 1941 when perhaps 2000 or 2500 invalids were selected “to go special blocks” (182). Everyone was afraid of being selected, but on this occasion, even if an inmate looked well he would be made to run fifty meters back and forth “on the double” (182) and if he limped he would be selected. The entire administrative staff was present, including Grill, and the selection took the entire afternoon. “It looked like a horse sale, a sale of horses at the fair” (182).Gaertner and Executions
Szmura recalls Gaertner, who was on the fire brigade, sometimes gave him food (165), but also says that he was always present at “executions, shootings and the black market” (166). On one occasion in 1944, as Szmura looked along the street passed Blocks 21 and 22 and past the crematorium, he saw men waiting between Blocks 17 and 18. Although he could not see the place where they were shot, he saw Gaertner lead them to that place one by one and then heard the shots. Seidler arrived for the execution on a motorcycle (167).
Szmura recalls the hanging of a Russian man who had tried to escape which he says all prisoners and SS “on the other side” witnessed (166) [It is not clear, however, if he is speaking of the “other side” of the courtroom or of the camp] “More I cannot say. I was standing in the back” (167)]
Testimony of Antoni Szulc (June 18, 1947)
Antoni Szulc, a Polish 32 year-old treasury official, lived in Salzburg DP Camp 10 (184). In Gusen I from June 1, 1940, until May 5, 1945, he worked removing soil in the quarry, and then as a stone cutter for four years (184).Schuettauf and Chain of Guards
He recalls Schuettauf, called General Bauch or General Belly by prisoners, in relation to the chain of guards (184). An SS guard stationed at Lungitz (186) named Patalas whom he knew before the war in Gaynia [or Goynia The word is almost unreadable in the copy] told Szulc that Schuettauf would tell all guards new to Gusen that all prisoners were criminals and most were under a death sentence. The prisoners, Schuettauf told the guards, were extremely dangerous and should have been shot, but under Hitler’s orders were brought to Gusen to be worked to death (185-186).Murder of American Flyer
One evening around 7 pm in July or August 1944 Szulc was returning from Lungitz where he worked in the “messerchmitts” [sic] stores. The car in which he was riding stopped in front of the Jourhaus and he saw an American pilot with a bandaged head standing among several SS, including Schuettauf. Schuettauf beat the pilot and called him an “American dog” among other things, before the pilot was taken away out of Szulc’s site. Later a Polish medical student named Filipiak told him the pilot was dead (187).Heisig and Bathing-to-Death
Szulc recalls seeing Heisig involved in bathing to death (187).Jungjohann and Beatings
He recalls Jungjohann at the stone quarry, always looking in the window of the hall. Since prisoners were not supposed to cook potatoes, they kept the door closed with a hook, but one day Jungjohann knocked on the door. When Szulc opened the door, Jungjohann struck him in the face causing him to fall to the ground and then kicked the stove so the roasting potatoes would fall out. When a gypsy [sic] by the name of Toni admitted the potatoes were his, he received a beating with a spade handle from Jungjohann (188).
Exhibit P-8 and P8-A are admitted, the testimony of French prisoner Captain Louis Bousell (189)
Exhibit P-9, the interrogation and translation into English of Polish prisoner Miecyslaw Jaroszewicz (190)
[Here the prosecution explains that they did not seek to call Jaroszewicz as a witness because the number of witnesses they could call was limited and they were not allowed to call corroborating witnesses or witnesses that might duplicate testimony. They must submit a list of essential witnesses and are not allowed more. So the prosecution called those witnesses who could testify against as many of the accused as possible] 190-191
Exhibit P-10 and P-10A German testimony and English translation of Heinrich Glowacki (193).
Exhibit P-11 Interrogation of Heinrich Glowacki and translation (195).
Exhibit P-12 and P-12A Testimony of Ludwig Neumeier, a German national (197). Later withdrawn (198).
Exhibit P-13 and P-13A, testimony of Dusan Teodoronic is admitted (199).Tandler and Gusen III
Tony Szulc testifies that he first met Tandler in August 1944 when Tandler was demoted from his position as detail leader of the young Russians to detail leader at Lungitz or Gusen III (201). Not all of the 300 Gusen III inmates worked at the “messerschmitts shop” [sic] 205. There was also a bakery under construction. SS Sergeant Mak was in charge of Gusen III (205).
In Gusen III Tandler was in charge of the detail which worked in the Messerscmhitt factory depot in a former brick factory (204). The demotion was a result of Tandler’s order to the capos to stop beating the young Russians. As a result Seidler interrogated and then demoted him (201) and continued to check up on him at Lungitz. Tandler was afraid of Seidler as a result and often asked prisoners to make sure everything was in order because he expected to be checked frequently. Szulc gives another example of Tandler’s good character when, in 1945, it was announced the Poles could leave Gusen if they would join the German Army. No one from Tandler’s detail volunteered. When the detail began receiving half portions of food as a result, Tandler took Szulc and Paproski, another inmate, to discuss the matter with the block eldest [number of block not given], slapped the block eldest for shorting the detail on food. After this incident, the normal portion of food was received (202). Szulc testifies that Tandler’s reputation in Gusen I was generally good (204, 205).
Szulc also heard of Tandler being called “Grandfather” by the young Russians (202), although he never witnessed the treatment of the young Russians directly he does remember them singing as they left camp (203).
Testimony of Oskar Tandler (June 23, 1947)
Oskar Tandler, a 57 year old weaver (395) was born in Lodz, Poland. By the time he moved in 1904, at the age of fourteen, he spoke “perfect Polish” (408). A Sergeant in the First World War, Tandler was a prisoner of war from 1916-1918 (395, 408). He tells the court he was treated “very well” by the Russians when he was a prisoner of war (429) and learned Russian at that time (408). After his discharge from service, he returned to his occupation. In 1920 he published an invention for his business (395-396).
Tandler joined the NSDAP March 1, 1937. He denies any involvement in the SA or SS before the war but explains that because of his knowledge of Polish and Russian which he revealed in “muster meetings” (396) before the war started in 1939, he was drafted into the SS Oranienburg Sachsenhausen, Berlin, July 20, 1940 (396). He remained at Oranienburg for only one day and was transferred to Mauthausen. He arrived at Mauthausen on the 22 or 23 of July and remained there for only eight days. Because of his previous experience, he received weapons training before being sent to Gusen I on August 3, 1940 (397). When asked what his rank was, he stated “At that time it didn’t matter at all whether one were a non-commissioned officer or an officer candidate, one had to do duty as a guard” (398) He was reinstated to the rank of Sergeant on February 12, 1941, and did guard duty in the First Guard Company outside the camp. For the most part he was used as a messenger because of his age. Guards were instructed to keep prisoners from escaping and to not beat prisoners (398). As long as he was on guard duty, he never saw a prisoner beaten (399). He was transferred to the headquarters staff in the beginning or middle of June 1941 where he reported to Camp Commandant Chmielewski (399). Tandler received all his orders from Chmielewski (423). He also was an interpreter for all of Gusen I (402). In March or April 1942 he became detail leader in the “industrial yard” (403). Some of his details included the breeding of angora rabbits, charge over all construction materials, and charge over the cabinetmakers’ shop (403). Then in June or July 1942 he was put in charge of “the Young Russians” (403). He became a block leader in July 1942 (416).
Tandler is asked a series of questions about statements he made in an earlier interrogation:
Asked if he recalled saying in the earlier interrogation (416) that he was a block leader “from the end of 1941 until November 1943” (417). Tandler explained, “That has to be understood in this way, that one could be used at all times as a block leader as well as an interpreter or as a detail leader” (418).
In the earlier interrogation, directly after this answer, Tandler had explained his duties as block leader. “I had to look after the welfare of the inmates, to see that there was cleanliness and discipline in the blocks over which I had charge, that the inmates got their food distributed in the right manner and that there was discipline among them” (418). Tandler, during this trial, says that he had only meant to explain the general duties of a block leader when he had answered this earlier question about his own duties as a block leader (418).
In the earlier interrogation, he had then been asked, “As block leader, where you in charge of other inmates?” His answer had been, “Yes, in the block I was in charge of there were only Russian inmates. They were under my orders and I had to take care of their food supply and see that they were clean” (418). Tandler, in the present trial, says that he does not recall having made this statement: “Not in this sense” (418).
He was unaware that he was referred to as the “Ukrainian” (429).Chmielewski and His Group
SS Captain Chmielewski was in charge of Gusen I until he (Chmielewski) left sometime in 1942. Tandler got to know Chmielewski’s group, (399) “the officers in the immediate vicinity of Chmielewski’s office” (400), Tech Sergeant Gross, Kluge, Fassler, Jentzsch, Dameshke, and Brust, the latter “one of the quietest men I have ever gotten to know as a role-call leader” (399). Jenstzsch was in the SS office, the right-hand man of Chmielewski. Gross and Kluge were labor-commitment leaders. Brust and Damaschke were roll call-leaders about whom Tandler says, “I do not include them in the group around Chmielewski” (399). Chmielewski’s group consumed large quantities of alcohol which led to violent behavior. Under the influence they would break everything in the non-commissioned officer’s club (400). Chmielewski’s group consisted of only active SS men (401).
Chmielewski gave Tandler the Detail Well Construction Weihe [sic] “approximately from the beginning to the middle of November 1941” (401) which he completed either at the beginning or the middle of 1941 (402).Duties of Interpreter
After the Detail Well Construction ended Chmielewski made Tandler the interpreter of Polish and Russian for all of Gusen I (402). Tandler had to interpret for the Political Department in inheritance cases, criminal investigations, and divorce cases. His main interpretation work was for work details. He had to tell inmates how to use their tools and tell them what work had to be done [presumably in Polish](402) until the Russians arrived, and then he was translator for the Russian block and for the work details (403).Wilhelm Grill
Tandler told the court that he never saw Grill with Chmielewski’s group. He testifies that the only time he saw Grill was when he went to the post office. Grill went home after work. Tandler also testifies that he rarely saw Grill at the non-commissioned officers club and does not remember with whom Grill associated. If he was in the non-commissioned officer’s club, it was only to drink a beer and then “disappear again” (401). On cross-examination, Tandler tells the court he only heard about Grill (425). He testifies that he heard prisoners cursing about the censoring of the mail, and he relates a time he saw a Pole reading his mail that had been censored (425). In his interrogation, he admits to hearing prisoners cursing Grill about the way he beat them, but in cross-examination he denies it (426).Young Russians
In June or July of 1942, approximately 300-400 young Russians came from Mauthausen and were put in Block 24. SS Technical Sergeant Kluge was in charge of the block for three or four weeks until he was given the job of labor commitment leader (404). Initially just the interpreter for the young Russians, Tandler took charge of the young Russian block from “the end of June, the beginning of July 1942, until May, 1944 with the exception of the time from November, 1943 until March, 1944, during which time I was sick” (404) (416). He characterized his relationship with the young Russians as “a father to his family.” This characterization was given to him not by the Russians but by his “SS buddies” (404). He told the court that when the young Russians marched to work, they sang. At first they sang German and Russian songs, but SS Captain Chmielewski forbade them to sing any Russian songs (405).
According to Tandler the young Russians’ average day went thus: A half hour after roll call they were marched, singing, to their place of work where Tandler handed them over to an SS man, a skilled worker, under whose tutelage they worked as apprentices to become stone cutters (405). The Young Russians worked shorter days than the older inmates. They worked a half an hour after roll call and they returned a half an hour earlier (405). Tandler gives the court a description of a Wednesday afternoon: “On Wednesday afternoon I drilled them in marching while they were singing or did athletics, and on Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock I went with them to a movie” (405). Saturday afternoon they were “altogether free” (405). Tandler tells the court that he enjoyed marching with “the boys” (405) and that they enjoyed it as well (405). He denies that, as Pedro Gomez testified, he used singing and marching as a form of punishment which killed many (431). He tells the court that he knows they enjoyed it because after he had received the orders from Chmielewski that the Russians had to sing (405), several inmates who spoke German (ten to twenty) offered to write the German words in Russian so that others would be able to sing (406).
No relationships were built between young Russians and the older Russians because they were prohibited from going into the prisoner-of-war blocks. The young Russians did not wear striped uniforms. “They were clothed in captured Belgium uniforms, trousers, jackets, overcoats, and caps” (406).
He told the court that none of the young Russians from Block 24 were ever executed (404). As to the charge that one Sunday afternoon in summer 1944 (414) he, Seidler, and Ziereis beat a young Russian prisoner who had tried to escape, then kicked him and drowned him three times in a barrel (413) before taking him to the crematorium to be shot, Tandler says this never happened, and that if it had happened during roll call, as reported, the whole camp would have witnessed it. He says that in the summer of 1944 he worked as detail leader in Lungitz at the airplane manufacturing detail, but also says that on a Sunday afternoon, all prisoners would say “during noon roll call on Sunday all prisoners are in camp” (414).
He also denies Pedro Gomez’ testimony that prisoners contracted tuberculosis as a result of hard labor. Tandler states that the young Russians would receive an extra meal because of their hard work as they were supposed to, contradicting Gomez’ testimony. He also contradicts Gomez’ testimony that the block leader would steal the young Russians “regular meal” (431).Russian Prisoners-of War (POW)
Tandler says he never beat a Russian POW (415).
The Russian POWs arrived at Gusen I at the end of September or beginning of October 1941 (416). For the first four to six weeks, they were put into “quarantine” (419) and then sent out into work details at the beginning of December, mostly to the stone quarries to be used as stone cutters (419). They were in Blocks 13, 14, 15 and 16, which became known as the “Russian Camp” (406). Tech Sergeant Knockl was in charge of the Russian Blocks. “Block leader and detail leader in the stone quarry were SS Staff Sergeant Becker and SS Kuehtreier” (408). Later, Smernov, a Russian and former captain of the Cossacks was added as a block leader and also served as interpreter in the camp when Tandler was with outside details (408). The Russian blocks were fenced off from the rest of the camp and there was wire going around the fence. There was a guard posted and no one was allowed to enter. The only persons allowed to enter the blocks were Russian block leaders and Tandler, but only in his function as interpreter (406). Tandler tells the court that he had no administrative position or authority within the Russian camp (406). Other than for interpretation, the only time Tandler came to the camp was when one of the block leaders wasn’t present or to supervise food distribution (407). He denies ever being block leader in the Russian camp even after a witness of his, Lutterbach, told the court he was (422). He tells the court that it was understandable for the prisoners to think he was a block leader, as anyone on duty may have seemed like a block leader to them. He relates that even some SS officers thought he was a block leader, but he insists that he was never block leader in the true sense of its meaning (423).
Tandler says that he never heard anything about the gassing of Russians in Block 16 or other crimes while in the camp, although “Lately I have heard a lot of stories about it” (408). He denies ever having heard, as Kowalski testified, of the gassing of 156 Russians or ever having stood near Jentzsch in the camp, or with Jentzsch, Seidler, Brust or Slupinski while Slupinski wore a Tyrolean outfit. He does remember one evening when Block Leader Knockl told the block eldests that prisoners had to clear the barracks the next morning because their barracks had to be disinfected and that gas would be used (409). When gas was used for “disinfection,” he says that the windows and doors of Blocks 13, 14, 15, and 16 were sealed with paper strips. He didn’t see this done, but he saw the paper strips later (410).
According to Tandler the Russians were infested with vermin when they arrived (410). Daily checks were made to see if they were infested. If the infestations were not too bad their clothes were taken to a disinfection installation “solely for the delousing and disinfection of clothes” (411). He says that the first time he recalls a gassing for the purposes of getting rid of vermin was 1941 (411) in the summer (412) when the fleas were so bad “not only the inmates’ camp but also the SS barracks and the industrial yards were infected. The whole camp was done over because the plague was so bad one only had to walk on the street and be beset with fleas” (411-412). Individual barracks were gassed again in 1942 and 1943 but not the entire camp (412).
Tandler again stated he has no recollection of the gassing of Russian POWs in Barracks 16 and says that he did not observe, on being asked, if those administering the disinfection of barracks wore gas masks (412).
He tells the court that when the Russian prisoners arrived “from a front collection camp” (410), they were badly undernourished (410, 429). They used to pick up garbage, such as old potato peels and carrots (419), and put them in their pockets for later consumption (411, 419). Tandler’s “attention had been called” (411) to this, and he himself saw how they filled their pockets with garbage to bring back into the camp and that they ate “this garbage without cleaning it first and that they ate quite a quantity of it while outside the camp and ate quite some quantity of it while inside the camp, that their pockets were literally filled with this garbage. I made them empty their pockets and told them that they not only made themselves sick by eating this stuff but also endangered the health of the entire camp” (411). Tandler says the Russians’ eating of garbage was the cause of the typhoid epidemic in January 1942 (419).
Kamienski had testified that while the Russians were in quarantine they were only given half a ration and that is why they would eat garbage (432-433). Tandler denies Kamienski’s testimony that some of them ate manure (433).“Freezing” of the Russians
The worst deaths came in January 1942. Tandler tells the court that no one gave consideration to the fact that the prisoners were weak and undernourished. Everyone had to work whether they were able to or not. Tandler describes January 1942 as being a “hard winter” (419). He goes on to testify “during the month of January a few hundred of them were brought back from the stone quarry frozen to death or nearly frozen to death. For this reason out of my own initiative several times I went to the camp commander Chmielewski. He told me: ‘That is none of your business. Take care of your own affairs”’ (419). Work was stopped at the end of January when the number of deaths increased (420).
Tandler states that he was never a detail leader in the work details of Gusen I and so had nothing to do with the prisoners being taken to work or the manner in which they were loaded onto cars (420). Staff Sergeant Becker and Kuehtreier were the detail leaders and block leaders in the stone quarry (408).
Tandler denies Krause’s testimony in which he (Krause) states that those Russians who survived the winter were gassed in the spring (421). Tandler also denies defense witness Lutterbach’s testimony that Tandler was a block leader in the Russian camp when many Russian’s died (422). Tandler explains that he was an interpreter for the Russian block, that he got his orders directly from Chmielewski, and so both SS and prisoners mistakenly thought he was a block leader because he was one of the few allowed in the POW camp. “Neither SS nor prisoner if they had no assignment were allowed inside the camp. No, for this reason they were unable to know and to find out what I was doing in this camp” (432).
Tandler also denies (433) Kamienski’s testimony that Tandler beat the Russian POWs and kicked them with his feet when they did not understand his poorly translated orders on their first day of work in January 1942, and that by March 1942 almost all of them had died (432).Deaths at Gusen
During the middle of December 1942 a large number of inmates died (419). The most deaths at Gusen occurred during the fall of 1941 and winter and spring of 1942 (433).Bathing-to-Death
Tandler does recall hearing about bathings-to-death while at Gusen. He did not witness these incidents and cannot estimate how many died, but he did hear about it often (433).
Tandler states, “Invalids were given baths and many of them died on account of it” (433). According to Tandler Chmielewski and his group were responsible for administering these baths at night after consuming large quantities of alcohol, and that they were known for doing other things [unspecified] as well (434). He goes on to say, “I never saw anything like that, and I wouldn’t have let them do it if I had seen them” (434).Executions
Tandler recalls that a Russian was brought down from Mauthausen in either 1941 or 1942, but says that he witnessed this Russian’s execution as a spectator (424). In an earlier interrogation, he had said he never saw an execution but only heard about them (425).Tattoos and Soap
Tandler says that he never saw any tattooed skin being dried or heard about soap being made from human beings. He calls these stories “fairy tales” (432).
Benjamin Soep Born: Amsterdam, Netherlands March 2, 1919
Benjamin, called "Benno" by his family and friends, grew up in a religious Jewish household in Amsterdam. Benno's father, a successful diamond manufacturer, was president of the Amsterdam Jewish community. Benno had two younger sisters and enjoyed collecting stamps.
1933-39: After he obtained some work experience in a department store, Benno joined his father in the diamond business. Benno adhered strictly to Jewish law. He loved tennis and skiing, and in 1938, while skiing in Switzerland, he met a girl and fell in love. Sensing that conditions in Europe were worsening for Jews, his girlfriend's family left the Netherlands for the United States in 1939.
1940-41: Benno's girlfriend returned to the Netherlands, and they were married in October 1940. The newlyweds took in a Jewish refugee who was training for agricultural work in Palestine. On June 11, 1941, the Gestapo came to Benno's door, looking for the refugee boarder; in reprisal for the murder of a German, the Nazis were rounding up foreign Jews. When Benno answered the door, the Nazi asked him if he was Jewish, too. Benno said he was, and the Nazi said, "Then you will come, too."
Benno was deported to the Schoorl labor camp in the Netherlands, and then to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he perished at age 22.
Born: Krzepice, Poland
March 3, 1924
The youngest of two children, Henia was born to a Jewish family in the town of Krzepice. By the early 1930s, the Jewish population of Krzepice comprised more than 40 percent of the town's inhabitants. Henia's father made his living trading cattle in the area. Henia attended a public elementary school.
1933-39: On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland; a day later, they entered our town. We tried to escape to Warsaw but the German forces quickly overtook us and ordered us back to Krzepice. Several days later the Germans set up a ghetto in Krzepice. We weren't allowed to leave the ghetto on penalty of death. Many people were shot for doing so, but rather than starve, I sometimes sneaked out to search for food.
1940-44: In 1941, hearing that the Germans were seizing people for work details, I escaped to a nearby village. But I missed my parents so I returned. Searching for them, I was arrested and eventually deported to the Mauthausen camp. While digging a ditch in a field I tried to escape into the woods. After two days, SS guards with dogs hunted me down. They beat me ruthlessly, breaking my nose. As I lay on the ground I heard the guards say, "Don't waste a bullet on her, she's dying." Later, I crawled back to the barracks.
Henia was then deported to the Bergen-Belsen camp. She was liberated by British troops on April 15, 1945. After recuperating in Sweden, she emigrated to the United States in 1947.
Colonel Richard R. Seibel Born: 1907, Defiance, Ohio
In June 1941, Richard was ordered to active duty in the U.S. army. After a period of training, he was sent to Europe. He entered Austria in April 1945. A patrol came upon the Mauthausen camp and Richard was appointed to take command of the camp. He organized those inmates who had survived in the camp until liberation in May 1945, and brought in two field hospitals. After 35 days in Mauthausen, he was transferred to a post in the Austrian Alps.
We gathered up about 700 bodies, which we had to bury. We had no identification of any kind, and we buried them in the old sports Platz, which was the recreational area for the SS, playing soccer and baseball, or whatever they played. The bodies were...there were no identification on any of these people, and no one could identify any of them because some of them were in terrible condition. So we buried them, in a mass grave, about 700. We put a cross up over each grave. Of course, they were buried without benefit of casket or anything because we had to get rid of those bodies. And from that time on, anyone who died in Mauthausen received a cross or a Star of David, with their names on it, and they were thoroughly and totally identified, but prior to that we couldn't do it. But I would guess that there was something like 1300 people died while we were there, and they were all identified properly so that all records maintained their nationality and their name.
In June 1941, Richard was ordered to active duty in the U.S. army. After a period of training
Raymond Buch Born: 1920, New York City
As a U.S. army sergeant, Raymond fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In May 1945, his unit was deployed to the Mauthausen camp in Austria to bulldoze mass graves for the victims. He watched as German civilians, on U.S. orders, hauled bodies to the mass graves. He also saw stronger camp survivors pull clothes off their weaker counterparts to replace their own tattered uniforms. Raymond went on to Mauthausen's Ebensee camp and Gusen, guarding SS men.
From the German civilians nearby we started to get the...those people to come up by the truckload and we told them to dress in their Sunday best, and then we made them dig graves, and...uh...we wanted them to see what was going on and then we had them carry the bodies, load the bodies in the wagons. We took wagonload after wagonload of bodies out to the grave site, which was the soccer field or the sport...uh...they call it the sport Platz. And...uh...we made the Germans handle, load them up in the wagons from inside the camp, take them down to the, the...um...graveyard, the grave site, and unload them, put them down in the graves, side by side, by the hundreds--there'd be 150 people or so in a row--and side, practically on top of each other. They were such, they were all skin and bones, and it was--I have pictures of them and movies, which you'll see later--but the...um...uh...bodies were...uh...were so emaciated that you, you, you, you couldn't possibly understand how those people were alive and walking around. And, uh, some of those walking around looked better than the dead, of course--a little better than the dead--and some of them looked worse, and they're still alive, depending on their resistance or whatever, I...I don't know. But it was incredible that they were still walking, in many cases. "The walking dead," we called them at that time.
Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz Born: 1920, Transylvania, Romania
Ben was born in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania in Romania. When he was an infant, his family moved to the United States. Ben attended Harvard University, where he studied criminal law. Ben graduated from Harvard University Law School in 1943. He joined a U.S. anti-aircraft artillery battalion that was training in preparation for an Allied invasion of western Europe. At the end of World War II in Europe, Ben was transferred to the war crimes investigation branch of the U.S. Army. He was charged with gathering evidence against and apprehending alleged Nazi war criminals. He ultimately became chief U.S. prosecutor in The Einsatzgruppen Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings.
What I would do, as a matter of procedure, I would immediately try to seize the records of what had happened in the camp. And every camp had an office, a Schreibstube, writing office. And what I would do is I would immediately go to the Schreibstube and try to find out who was in charge there, what was there, and seize whatever would be relevant for war crimes prosecution. And when I came to the Schreibstube in Mauthausen, uh, there was an inmate there who was a "Schreiber" [who worked in the office], as they called them, uh, and that was a favored position, in fact, in the camp if you would be in the hospital or in the Schreibstube or in the kitchen. Um, and he said, "Oh, I've been waiting for you," and he said, "Come with me," and I recall going out with him to the electrified fence and his digging up a, uh, box of records which he had kept. And, uh, those records, uh, were the records of all of the SS men--the identification cards--who had entered that camp, uh, and who had left the camp. It had their photograph on it. It had their identifying numbers and addresses, date of birth, things of that kind. And he was supposed to destroy each one of those records before a new one was issued or when the man left the camp, and he didn't do that, which meant that every time he saved one of those records--and there were hundreds of them--he put his life in jeopardy. And he was ready to do that, hoping and knowing that one day there would be a day of retribution. And he saved those records for that day. So to me, it was a reflection of human hope and, uh, confidence, and faith, you know, uh, and courage, which was very moving and dramatic for me.
A 13-year-old orphan, a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Austria, May 1945.
Adolphe Arnold biography : A life of battle and love
That summer of 1944, Adolphe was put on a regular transport to the most dreaded camp in Austria: Mauthausen.
The prisoner transports were more like cattle cars, and the arrival at the camp continued the dehumanizing process with shouting, threats, and humiliation by the SS guards. The painful shaving and delousing treatment added to the torment for Adolphe, who was marked by a new number—89033—and block assignment A.K.P.U. Mauthausen sat perched on a hill of granite. The long uphill walk to the camp was a physical drain on the prisoners but a greater psychological shock. Built by prison labour to resemble a Middle-Age fortress, its towering stone walls hid the camp from the sight of passers-by.
Neither could the dreadful stone quarry be seen. A granite stairway of 187 irregularly hewn steps linked the stone pit below to near and far building projects above. In double time the prisoners had to carry massive stone blocks on their backs. If a prisoner fell, he had no chance to survive the human wave that trampled him to death. Those who could not keep up the pace would be kicked back down the stairs by the SS guard, taking down other prisoners with him. If a prisoner somehow got to the top of the stairway without his stone, the guards took him to the edge of the cliff and gleefully shoved him off the “Parachute Wall” to his death. The terrifying sight of hanging corpses reminded each one that this too could be his last day.
It took a mere three months to exterminate a prisoner by hard labour. An assignment to the stone quarry spelled a virtual death sentence. Adolphe grew weaker and weaker. Had it not been for the help of other Witnesses working in the quarry, he would have met a rapid end. A “purple triangle” named Mattischek* worked as a stone mason. When he could get away with it, he cut and set aside “lighter” stones for certain prisoners.
Amidst the horrors of Mauthausen, even more than in Dachau, survival depended on good relationships. Witness prisoners bonded tightly to sustain each other’s physical and spiritual life. They secretly gathered on Sunday afternoons behind the last barrack, where only two watchmen were needed to stand guard while they read together from prohibited pages of the Bible. No one had news from the outside, nor any mail, nor external contact of any kind.
That winter, food shortages in the camp intensified because of the war, sending the already horrific death rate soaring. Adolphe was faltering. He knew he was facing his last days when an electrician with a purple triangle noticed and came to his aid. Eugen Schwab* had been in camp since 1936 and had been granted certain privileges, including the right to move freely about the camp without a guard. He managed to get Adolphe out of Mauthausen and into the sub-camp of Ebensee. He knew that the living conditions in Ebensee were even worse, but at least Adolphe would be out of the sight of that sadistic bunch of SS standing on the stone steps like jackals waiting to send their prey scornfully over the Parachute Wall. Schwab found a place for Adolphe to work at Ebensee—in the laundry.
Adolphe’s fate lay in the primitive camp deep within the Salzkammergut region of the Austrian Alps. Large numbers of prisoners came from the East, especially from Russia. The camp commandant had already cut the daily food ration in half but decided to reduce it down to a quarter. The winter months and heavy snows wrought even greater desperation. At least in summer the prisoners could find grass or sand to calm their hunger pangs. Soon a black market of stolen meat appeared—it proved to be cannibalism. Adolphe lived in anguish with this knowledge. He was already near death but was terrified of falling asleep, lest he fall victim to those who preyed on dying inmates, cutting off chunks of flesh for the market.
The few “purple triangles” in that camp kept close watch over each other. Adolphe had arrived in precarious health, but his work in the laundry afforded him some protection from the biting cold. In a washing pit filled with hot water, Adolphe had to walk to and fro, trampling down mounds of dirty clothes like a human washing machine. The SS guard barked orders at him while the killer dog paced back and forth in time to Adolphe’s movements. One day the SS ordered him out of the pit. Adolphe had one bad ear, damaged since childhood by scarlet fever, and facing that side, he could not hear the SS order. Suddenly, he looked up to see the killer dog lunging toward him. He jumped to avoid the snapping teeth and slipped on the wet steps. He fell on his bad ear. The SS boot came down on his face just below his eye, crushing the delicate bones of his good ear. He got on his feet and was alive, but he suffered permanent hearing loss as a result of the violent incident.
The former salt mines of Ebensee provided a perfect place for the Germans to build concealed tunnels. The majority of Ebensee slave labourers worked in these tunnels building V-1 rockets. In the closing days of the war, it was rumoured that camp administration planned to herd the prisoners into the tunnels, seal them, and destroy them with explosives. The prisoners determined that when the order came, they would refuse. The few Witness prisoners hid in a barrack and prayed together as the camp descended into anarchy. A hail of bullets left hundreds of corpses scattered throughout the camp when the first American soldiers arrived.
Many surviving prisoners were too weak to walk, including Adolphe. He and others were brought by truck transport to a Red Cross camp in nearby Bad Ischl. There he learned that the war had already been over for a few days! He also heard that according to the Yalta agreement, Russian forces were to have liberated the valley of Ebensee. But an American battalion passed over the agreed-upon boundary of Bad Ischl and reached Ebensee before the Russians.
Adolphe and Emma weave their nest
The year was 1923. Adolphe faced two challenges. First, Emma lived on a mountain farm at Bergenbach, which belonged to a neighbouring village. The young men of the village would not allow one of their virgins to be taken by an outsider from a village that they considered lower class. Adolphe, being a peaceful man, refused their challenge to fight. Whenever he saw them gathering, he went into hiding, and he climbed the path through the forest to Emma’s house instead of passing through town.
Secondly, though wishing to be at peace with his future in-laws, Adolphe would not pretend to be someone he was not. Emma’s mother planned on holding a large marriage feast for her firstborn. In Alsace this meant the couple would go to the town hall Friday evening for the legal ceremony and then with close family to a café for a drink. The couple would part company for the evening because only after the Saturday morning church ceremony would the marriage be considered binding. The religious vows were followed by a large four-hour banquet for the extended family, and then a farewell dinner on Sunday. To follow this wedding tradition, Emma’s mother, who had no money, intended to borrow money that would have taken her an entire year to pay off.
For Adolphe, though, being hardworking but poor was nothing to be ashamed of. True worth, he always said, could not be measured by money. His unequivocal “No” created an angry rift, so to keep the peace, Adolphe agreed to pay the inflated fee for a special marriage Mass at the holy sanctuary of Oderen. It cost a fortune: five francs. The couple was happy to learn that two other couples would join the holy Mass with them and share the expense. At the conclusion of the ceremony and special blessing, the bridegrooms went to pay the priest. The first two each gave two francs. Adolphe was last and handed over one franc. The priest kept his hand open waiting for a second franc. There was none. “Two and two makes four, doesn’t it? Plus one is five. You want more?” The priest called it a scandal, and so did Adolphe’s mother-in-law!
The couple had a very hard start. Adolphe had just one week’s salary in cash and a little savings account put aside for doctor bills. His 25-year-old wife Emma had been sent off from Bergenbach with only her last three days’ pay and her embroidered linens as a dowry. They went to live in the village of Oderen in a small room rented from an elderly woman who took pity on them and gave them an old table. They had wooden boxes for chairs and slept in a tiny bed. The Monday after their wedding both went off to work, Adolphe in the printing section and Emma with the weavers. Everyone knew them to be hard workers. Step by step according to their savings, they bought the needed furniture, always tasteful and high quality. They decided that once the “nest” was ready, children would come.
His extraordinary memory and his French language skills earned Adolphe a promotion as a colorist. The job brought with it an invitation to move into a cottage named Blättmatt, nestled in a lovely park and located right next to the factory in Husseren-Wesserling. In that tranquil setting he mastered photography, developing his own prints, and he taught himself to play the violin to soothe his profound sadness.
The hardships of living paled before the blows of death.
Less than five years after he left home, Adolphe lost his beloved mother. His brother had become a widower with two girls to raise. His sister’s husband was crushed under the wheels of a train, and two years later she died of cancer, leaving a girl and a boy to the care of her widowed stepfather.
After just two years of marriage, his sister-in-law Eugenie lost her husband to tuberculosis. Though he counted every penny, Adolphe had a generous heart. He invited Emma’s sister to Blättmatt to share their table until she could get back on her feet.
Still, life at Blättmatt finally seemed secure, and the time came to start a family.
Emma went into labour on August 15, 1930, but by late the next day the midwife saw it would be a very hard delivery and told Adolphe to get the doctor.
On seeing the mother in distress, the doctor handed Adolphe a dilemma: ‘Who do I save—the mother or the baby?’ Without a moment’s hesitation he told the doctor to do everything possible to save the life of his precious and beloved wife.
Mother and daughter both survived. Despite his strong Catholic faith, Adolphe felt it his responsibility to decide whether or not to have children; and he resolved that the newborn infant would be the first and the last.
The proud parents named her Marie Simone.
Hounded by poverty
The Arnold family lived at the end of the Thur valley in the Vosges Mountains. In 1897 when Adolphe was born, his father, Martin, was a factory worker who barely earned enough to feed his three children. Extreme poverty had forced the family to leave the mountain farm for the village. Martin also wanted to escape tuberculosis, which had killed nearly all his siblings. He feared for his children’s health, especially for his son Adolphe, who was a very weak child and who had become very attached to his parents. One day Adolphe’s mother, Odile, received the devastating news that Martin had dropped dead at the factory. He had had an argument with his boss over the dismissal of a worker who had six small children at home. Adolphe’s father could not stand by and courageously fought for his co-worker’s welfare, but the emotional strain cost him his life.
This family trauma deeply marked Adolphe, then in his early teens. His mother had no choice but to go to work in the same factory where her husband had died. Martin’s only remaining sibling, Paul Arnold, could not work because of the crippling bone disease rickets. He came to care for the three children. But to move into his brother’s home in the village of Krüth, he and the widowed Odile would have to marry; and so Adolphe’s Uncle Paul became his step-father.
Adolphe’s mother laboured at the factory from early in the morning until late at night, bringing home a pittance salary and her bitter resentment. When the workers went on strike for the first time, Odile joined the protest against abusive working conditions and went on a protest march in the factory. Later that week, as usual, she went to confession. “Is that all?” the priest asked her. “What about the strike? Did you join in?” Surprised, she replied, “Yes.” The confessional door flew open and she got a slap in the face. She heard the priest say, “That’s for this time. Next time you’ll lose your job!” The widow returned home with a red cheek and the story of her deep disappointment. The Arnolds continued to struggle through the early spring, living on dried apples and pears, which were cooked and served with milk and potatoes instead of meat.
Adolphe, just skin and bones, had no strength for factory or farm work. But the lad exhibited artistic talents. His invalid stepfather decided that the family would sacrifice to send Adolphe to art school in Mulhouse. Every morning the 14-year-old boy left home with a piece of bread and a bite of cheese for his lunch. Whether through deep snow or pouring rain, he made the 10-km walk (6 miles) to catch the 7 o’clock train.
Determined to show his gratitude to his family, Adolphe worked hard and got high grades. At the end of his second year, he presented an oil painting, 100 x 60 cm (38 x 24 inches) large, at a school exhibition. That day, the manager of the textile printery came looking for a prospective recruit. Adolphe, age 16, took first prize. Everyone applauded as the director handed him the gold medal in a black box. Holding the box to his chest, Adolphe returned to his seat. His proud stepfather went to take a look and discovered that the gold medal had turned silver! After the ceremony, Paul and his stepson went to the director, thinking the boxes had been accidentally switched. Without apologizing the school director responded, “I gave the gold medal to the son of So-and-So, a man of great reputation in town.” Looking down at the Arnolds, he continued, “Who are you? What does your name mean to anyone…? If you don’t want the silver medal, just leave it here for someone else!”
That summer of 1914, Adolphe was hired by the art department of Gros-Roman et Marozeau in Wesserling in Alsace. The job only lasted a short time, and for a good reason.
Continued~Two Crucial Decisions
In 1932, the owner of the Wesserling factory unexpectedly put up the business for sale. The resulting staff cuts created an uncertain future, even for the management staff. Adolphe’s reputation had spread beyond the town, and the largest textile printing factory in Pfastatt near Mulhouse, Schaeffer and Company, offered Adolphe the job of lead colourist in their Art Department. It was a hard decision, leaving behind his beloved mountains for the flatland city of Mulhouse. Taking the job would mean an extended period of commuting until a place opened up in the factory-owned housing. But with a wife and child, job security had to be Adolphe’s main priority. They would have to move out of their lovely cottage home to a three-story city apartment house. In 1933, after a year of making the lengthy train commute and spending long hours away from home, Adolphe and his family made the painful move to 46 Rue de la Mer Rouge. Not long thereafter, Schaeffer made Adolphe a supervisor. He oversaw the chemists who implemented his design proposals, and he set the price and quality of the finished product.
The new position required Adolphe to do shift work. When he worked mornings, the whole family enjoyed their evenings together. The doting father carefully checked Simone’s schoolwork and read aloud from his favourite books on history, astronomy, and geography. Emma loved to listen while doing needlework and even their little dog Zita seemed to take it all in while lying contentedly at Adolphe’s feet. The newspaper brought word of labour unrest. Adolphe was sympathetic to the socialist workers movement and avidly followed the news of their demands for social justice. When Adolphe worked the afternoon shift, the family ate their noon meal together, and Simone got to sit on his lap while he had his coffee before bicycling off to work. When he returned home at 10:20 p.m., he would head straight to Simone’s room to kiss his sleeping girl ‘good night.’
Meanwhile, worker agitation simmered and finally boiled over in the great crisis of 1936, culminating in a nationwide strike. Angry labourers barricaded themselves inside the factories and took the white-collar workers hostage, Adolphe among them. Fortunately for him, at Schaeffer a new shift of workers arrived to maintain vigil, including men under his supervision. They insisted on releasing him unharmed, saying, “He may wear a white shirt but he’s really on our side. We have a fine relationship.” The workers knew Adolphe to be respectful and gentle toward them all, even while his ‘yes’ meant ‘yes’ and his ‘no’ an absolute ‘no.’
If Adolphe wore white shirts to work, he couldn’t stretch his salary to buy any. But his cherished and industrious wife used coupons to buy remnants at the factory and made him his shirts. Adolphe believed that only careful saving and hard work could secure his family. When the strike resulted in two weeks of paid vacation, he refused to take it. But the law made it compulsory and the factory had to close. He and Emma had a long discussion about whether or not to take the money from their savings to buy two bicycles to ride in the Vosges Mountains. They finally concluded that the three could save on train fare and go by bicycle more often to visit their families in Oderen and Krüth.
On restful weekends Adolphe delighted in playing outdoor games with Simone or teaching her to paint. Sunday mornings were invariably set aside for Mass. In the afternoon the family took long, leisurely strolls in the nearby meadows. Adolphe led his tranquil household with a firm but gentle hand, and he could not conceive of any other way of living. Suddenly, though, a problem arose with Emma, and what a challenge it proved to be!
During the early spring of 1937, Adolphe and Emma had both seen a priest misbehaving with a young teenage boy. Emma insisted that God would not allow himself to come down in the holy wafer to be presented by defiled hands. Adolphe vehemently defended the Catholic Church as holy, founded on the apostle Peter. Believers must be faithful and should leave the judgment of individuals to God. Emma started attending a newly built Catholic church. Adolphe continued going to his own. A tense air filled the Arnold household as strong disagreements erupted into frequent arguments. The storm was just beginning to build. Later that year, Emma received three booklets from Jehovah’s Witnesses (also known as Bibelforscher, German for “Bible Students,” prior to 1931) and bought herself a Bible to study on her own. Adolphe accused her of being presumptuous for questioning church teachings. He forbade her from involving Simone, now seven years old, in the dispute, and he took his daughter with him to Sunday Mass.
Emma stood up for her right to choose her own reading. This placed Adolphe, who had always believed in individual liberty, in a very difficult position: Her freedom of choice became a challenge to his authority. So he reluctantly gave in. But he retreated into total silence. Hardly eating and sleeping, he smoked incessantly and left the house for long walks with Zita.
Adolphe regularly took Simone with him to church, but his daughter had started asking awkward questions prompted by passages her mother had read to her from the Bible. Nearly a year of silence elapsed when Adolphe decided he had had enough. He was the man of the house, wasn’t he? The family was his responsibility, including the obligation to do everything possible to rescue his wife. He decided to order a book from Jehovah’s Witnesses to expose the sect as nonsense. He chose their book Creation since he was well versed in astronomy. When the book arrived, he left the package unopened for three days.
The blanket of silence in the home became even heavier. Later Adolphe would learn that his discerning wife had ordered their irrepressible daughter to keep quiet while her father thought matters over. He studiously compared his favourite books by Abbé Moreau with the Creation book, and before long Adolphe humbly acknowledged that what his wife had discovered by her Bible reading was true. In his excitement, Adolphe made a special trip to give a Bible to his devout stepfather, never imagining Paul Arnold’s angry reaction. He took the Bible and hurled it out the window, then grabbed Adolphe by the seat of his pants and shoved him out of the house with the words, “You, Emma, and Simone are forbidden to set foot in this house! If you want to come back, we will meet in church, but first you must make confession and communion!”
Emma’s family and then the whole village near Bergenbach did likewise, leaving the Arnolds as outcasts. In town, the neighbours too turned against them when they realized that Adolphe no longer supported the church. One man felt it his right to chase after Adolphe wielding an axe.
The family’s isolation ended when they attended a public lecture given by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There, Adolphe met another Adolphe, Koehl by his family name. He was a long-time Bibelforscher and a top-rate barber in town. As a regular barbershop client, Adolphe found a close friend and devoted colleague in Adolphe Koehl. Through him the Arnolds learned about the book Crusade Against Christianity, which carried firsthand reports of the terrible oppression suffered by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi concentration camps. Their endurance and faithfulness to Christian principles, even in the face of persecution and death, fired the Arnolds’ determination to embrace their stalwart example.
Continued~Faith under Fire
Emma was baptized as a Witness of Jehovah in 1938. That year, German forces invaded the Sudetenland, and Adolphe was drafted into the French army to monitor telephone communications. He returned from his duty with a troubled conscience, and having concluded that he would no longer take part in war, he decided that he would refuse the call if he were drafted again. He was baptized the following year. Adolphe fully knew that heavy responsibility awaited him in caring for the tiny group of Witnesses in Mulhouse. Right from the beginning, Adolphe and Emma became pillars in the group, even as the threat of war with Germany loomed.
In 1939, when the French government banned stigmatized organizations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, both Adolphes organized underground religious activities. They went out under cover of night to visit homes of Witnesses and made discreet Sunday morning visits to spread their Bible message. Adolphe Koehl’s isolated garden house made a perfect place for secret meetings. They established risky connections with Witnesses on the other side of the Vosges Mountains.
The family bonds grew ever stronger by their shared faith and Bible reading. Adolphe’s cigarette cough even went away after he quit smoking. Emma’s sister, Eugenie, and Simone both got baptized secretly in their bathtub. By early summer 1940, German soldiers paraded through the streets of Mulhouse, filling Alsatian homes with dread. Alsace was now “Heim ins Reich” (back home in the “Reich”); totalitarian authority brutally imposed Nazi law on the populace.
The Arnolds struggled to maintain a calm and cheerful climate at home. Simone’s education occupied Adolphe’s full attention, as he helped her weigh moral and religious values against Nazi ideology. Risking betrayal and arrest, Adolphe continued his underground work. One avid Bible student, Marcel Sutter, came to the Arnolds’ home and was secretly baptized in late August 1941.
Those precious moments of togetherness for the Arnold family came to a sudden end. On September 4th, the Gestapo (Nazi secret police) arrived at the Schaeffer factory with an arrest warrant for Adolphe. In front of his co-workers, they arrested him and took him away like a common criminal, making him ride his bicycle in front of the ominous “Black Maria” (black Gestapo car) so that all could see the fate of a man who dared defy the Nazis. They first drove to the Arnolds’ home exactly at the time Emma was out picking up the daily milk ration and Simone was at school. Gestapo agents swarmed through the apartment, searching for incriminating evidence—literature, names, addresses. Adolphe had been very shrewd. All the banned Witness literature had been hidden in the barber’s garden house. The Gestapo left empty-handed and pushed Adolphe into the police car. The neighbours peeked out from behind their curtains to see him taken away for further interrogation.
Seated behind a desk, a smallish Gestapo agent offered to release Adolphe immediately if he agreed to volunteer for the German army. Upon Adolphe’s refusal his voice turned harsh. He wanted names. Adolphe gazed at him in silence. The man screamed at him, demanding an answer, to which Adolphe replied, “For you, it will always be ‘No’.” Before he knew it, the little man leaped over the top of his desk, came at Adolphe, and with one blow to the head, knocked him unconscious. He awoke in a dark, damp cell in solitary confinement. In the next cell he heard a man crying. The little Gestapo man returned. ‘The voice you hear is that of the man who betrayed you.’ Adolphe realized it was the barber’s voice! For Adolphe, this revelation was harder to bear than the blow. He knew the barber Adolphe was in bad health and guessed that his physical weakness had led to his breakdown and betrayal. For days, Adolphe suffered as he heard the cries of his friend, who must have had a tortured conscience.
The guards denied Adolphe his right to a Bible: The Gestapo had issued strict orders that no Jehovah’s Witness prisoner could have one. Emma was permitted to bring clean clothes, but no letters or food. One day she tried unsuccessfully to smuggle in a Bible to Adolphe. The guard, who knew Emma, found a way to contact her outside the prison and warn her not to try it again. He had moved Adolphe to another cell and had given him the Bible from the prison library. The move got him away from the moaning in the next cell.
In December the Gestapo transferred him to Schirmeck, a camp in Alsace. Conditions were worse than the stone prison, but at least he could get a letter from Emma. In careful language
it had greetings from Adolphe Koehl and news about his underground activity. So, after four months of emotional anguish, Adolphe realized that the tortured voice in the next cell had been a cruel Gestapo trick!
A Purple Triangle in Dachau
On a frigid winter day of January 1942, a transport truck left Schirmeck for Dachau concentration camp. Among the five Jehovah’s Witness prisoners were Adolphe and the elderly presiding minister of Mulhouse named Huber. An SS guard looked at the white-haired man, pointed to the crematorium chimney, and screamed, “This will be your exit!” Huber, who was more than 60, calmly replied, “It is truly an exit!”
The Nazis offered Jehovah’s Witness prisoners another way out: They could sign a document* renouncing their faith and swearing allegiance to the Nazi state. They would be given their freedom as a reward. But they would also have to agree to denounce other Witnesses to the Gestapo, virtually ensuring their arrest and imprisonment. The Nazis seldom succeeded in getting a signature, even under torture.
Like all prisoners, Adolphe’s had to exchange his identity for a number—28818—and the peaceful artist with gentle hands was immediately sent off to do hard labour in the punishment battalion. He wore the purple triangle of the Bibelforscher on his uniform. The Nazi captors intended the symbol to be a stigma, but for Witness prisoners, it enabled them to identify and support fellow believers. For the first three months Adolphe had no news from home, just unanswered questions to torment his nights: His wife? His daughter? Only on Sundays could he gain a little relief, sharing spiritual thoughts with some other Witnesses, such as Floryn* from Belgium. Finally, he was permitted to write a few lines and receive a short note from Emma.
That winter, a typhus epidemic swept through the camp, and Adolphe ran a high fever. An SS doctor ordered Adolphe to pump the blood-pressure gauge, but he was too weak. The doctor struck him in the mouth and broke his two front teeth, sending Adolphe into a deep coma. When he awoke he found that his barracks mates had all been replaced by new ones. He had lain unconscious for 14 days.
Just then, relief arrived when the camp commandant allowed the prisoners to receive food parcels from home. Emma’s first package contained a bottle of fish oil and some clay. The SS mocked him, saying, “Your wife sent you earth even before you are ready for burial!” Adolphe knew about the extraordinary healing properties of clay and ate a little every day. He made a full recovery.
Those parcels brought even stronger medicine. Emma found a way to hide scraps of paper with excerpts from the banned Witness journal, The Watchtower. She copied the text in tiny print on fine paper, which she rolled up tight and put between two cookies stuck together with honey. The Kapo (a prisoner foreman) handed Adolphe the first parcel, but it was almost empty. When Adolphe ate the lone cookie and found the hidden paper, he understood why the Kapo had warned him that he should not be receiving messages—and he had proof that the man had dipped into the parcel before he handed it over! He wrote back in a few lines, “Thank you for the vitamins!” and “Please keep sending news from Mother!”
A certain SS man came to him privately during a bombing raid on nearby Munich. “What religion is this pilot?” he asked. Adolphe seized the opportunity to tell him, “I don’t know, but one thing is sure: It is not a Jehovah’s Witness pilot!” That SS came to trust Adolphe and asked him to keep guard whenever he was drinking. On Christmas Eve, all the SS gathered around a huge Christmas tree singing “Holy Night.” At the feast in the SS barracks that night, each man stashed his forbidden bottle of alcohol under his seat. The SS man brought Adolphe along and seated him at the table to act as a shield from the eyes of the commandant. Each time the SS leaned over to take a drink, Adolphe had to lean forward to block him from view. During the night, some of the SS would go out and come back with bloodstained clothes, singing even louder, “The divine child is born…” That “privilege” was torture for Adolphe.
The Allies carried out another bombing raid on Munich, which damaged the SS man’s house. He received some new furniture and asked permission to use the prisoner Adolphe to paint it. Adolphe not only painted the cabinets, but he decorated it with Bavarian designs. The SS saw that money could be made from this artistic prisoner. He told Adolphe he wanted to open a business printing scarves and aprons and to have Adolphe work for him. He would have him let out of camp and bring his wife and daughter to be with him. Adolphe was cautiously hopeful at the prospect of getting his family away from the terrible pressure they faced daily.
The commandant often summoned Adolphe to the office to hear police reports about his rebellious daughter. Simone kept refusing to heil Hitler. She had been interrogated by the Gestapo and was finally sentenced to a Nazi reform school. Each time he was called, the SS ridiculed or punished him, blaming him for her actions. Still, Adolphe’s heart swelled with satisfaction because he knew his daughter had stood up for her faith. In one letter* he wrote her: “As long as we follow our hearts, we won’t lose our joy, because our heart will judge us. It is this joy that is the best guarantee that our identification of what is good is the right one. It is also the anchor of our lifeboat and will bring us safely through the stormy sea.”
Truly Adolphe almost drowned in that stormy sea. Once more the commandant summoned him to hear that the decision of the Mulhouse court had been applied. His beloved girl had been taken away from her mother and sent to Constance to be “re-educated:” Less than two months later Emma was arrested and sent to Schirmeck camp. Adolphe knew that would be the end of his mail. Regulations forbid prisoners to send letters between camps. The only link to the outside would be Eugenie, Emma’s sister.
Though Adolphe rejoiced that his wife and daughter had stayed true to their faith, he could not lift his spirits at the thought of their captivity. He lost all his strength. Starvation diet, hard labor, constant pressure to sign the document of renunciation, and the knowledge that Emma faced the same left Adolphe on the verge of physical and emotional collapse. One day he stood in line for the shower in that low state of mind. In front of him one man asked another which Bible text the pastor had chosen for him at his Confirmation. He replied, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own:” The words were like oil on a wounded heart, like the voice of an angel—just what Adolphe needed to shore up his determination to endure despite what lay ahead. Sure enough, a new challenge confronted him.
The call came again to present himself at the Kommandatur. As he entered, he saw that almost all the SS on duty stood waiting for him. The commandant had received the SS man’s request to take him outside the camp to work. Permission could be granted, but before drawing up the necessary papers, Adolphe would first have to paint pictures of dolls on a large stack of wooden crates. The SS added, “We’re not transporting dolls. It’s ammunition.” Adolphe refused. He would not do work to support the war, and he would not lie, he said, not even with a paintbrush.
The SS broke out in collective laughter. They would have some fun. One SS pretended to be “Jehovah” and another played “Jesus.” As the paroxysm of blasphemy ran its course, Adolphe could no longer endure it and said calmly in a strong voice, “Please, sir, Jehovah is the name of God Almighty!” They fell totally silent, stiff from the shock as it slowly sank in that a prisoner had dared to correct the mighty SS. “Raus!!” shouted the commandant. Adolphe fully expected to be hanged. Days passed and nothing happened. Yet the matter had not been forgotten. The order came to make him a Versuchskaninchen, a human guinea pig.
Adolphe reported to a special section of the camp, supervised by SS doctors who, like the infamous Mengele of Auschwitz, conducted prisoner experiments. They concluded that this prisoner must have a strong immune system. After all, he had recovered from typhus. He would make a fit subject to test malaria vaccines that could protect German soldiers fighting in the North African theatre. They tied a little cage to his elbow just on top of the vein so that the mosquitoes could feed easily. The cage remained there day and night, with the insects exchanged and vials of blood drawn several times a day for six weeks. The inoculations proved ineffective, and Adolphe was ordered to board a truck transport. Everyone knew what that meant, but just as he was climbing into the truck, the SS man for whom he worked passed by. Then a doctor appeared and called Adolphe down saying they had not yet finished the experiment. He would stay in the infirmary for several more days.
World War I, deportation… and Emma!
Alsace was caught once again between France and Germany with the start of World War I. In German-controlled region, the army drafted all young adult males. Then the French army came through the high Thur valley and swept up all the remaining male adolescents too young to be taken, young Adolphe among them.
Deported to a distant French-speaking camp in the interior of France, Adolphe felt completely lost. People looked at him suspiciously because he could only speak Alsatian or German. Even the chaplain refused to give communion for those he regarded as enemies. Eventually the deportees were moved as far as the Camargue on the shores of the Mediterranean, where they were released.
Adolphe thus found himself more than 600 km (370 miles) from home. The journey back would be long and expensive. To survive he went from restaurant to restaurant, painting murals in exchange for hot meals and realizing the battle of living an artist’s life. Reaching Vals-les-Bains, he painted several murals and was hired by a silk printing firm in Bourgoin.
Homesickness for his family and the Vosges Mountains overwhelmed Adolphe. He longed for the mountain vistas of dawn and dusk; and their call was stronger than the security and stability of his privileged job. So as soon as the war ended, he returned to Krüth and found his family in dire straits. Gros-Roman took Adolphe back, now as an accomplished artist of 20 years old.
Adolphe’s return was a real blessing to his family. The local priest was also happy that he had come back. As a teenager Adolphe had assisted the priest as an altar server. Now the priest invited him to do the bookkeeping for the church. He counted and recorded the donations and the funeral and wedding fees.
Adolphe did the job with precision. One day, when he had nearly finished counting and stacking the coins, the priest walked in. He made a pouch with his long garment and swept the coins into it. “All those details don’t count,” he said. Adolphe swiftly reached out, grabbed his robe, and sent all the coins flying. He took the priest by the arm and put him out, saying, “I’ll count the exact amount because it’s my job. But I refuse to continue working for a dishonest man!”
A few years later, Adolphe, who had learned French during his deportation, became an art consultant. (In those days, the upper classes spoke French to separate themselves culturally and intellectually from the lower classes.) Adolphe turned over his salary to his mother. He sometimes chaperoned his sister, who often went dancing. Adolphe always sat alone waiting for her. At a nearby table sat a charming young lady named Emma, who also chaperoned her sister Eugenie. Emma and Adolphe struck up a conversation and found they had much in common, especially in their outlook of the future. Both were very devout.
Rebuilt a Family
At the Red Cross camp, prisoners could eat their fill of milk and rice gruel. At first, Adolphe ate as much as two litres (1/2 gallon) at each meal. Slowly his strength returned. But his emotional condition was another matter. Painful questions plagued him. It had been more than six months since he last heard from Eugenie. Haunting questions—what? where? how?—robbed him of sleep. The doctors refused to release him, knowing he could not take the long and hazardous trip from Austria to faraway Alsace. The last train returning deported survivors left without Adolphe.
When Adolphe was finally able to leave, he had to travel on his own. He left with a document from the U. S. Army granting him access to free food and shelter on his journey. He also carried an army blanket and his only other possessions—a bowl and spoon tied at his waist. He had guarded them jealously from camp thieves, knowing that no bowl meant no food, and no food meant death. Adolphe was a mere shadow when he left Bad Ischl—deaf, toothless, weighing a mere 49 kg (about 100 lbs).
The long journey home brought Adolphe across the French border to the city of Strasbourg. From there he took the train to Mulhouse, which ran close by his house. As the train drew closer, his heart started pounding. Much of the town bore heavy battle scars and lay in ruins. To his great relief, he saw that the apartment house at 46 Rue de la Mer Rouge stood intact. A new wave of anxiety swept over him at the railroad station as he saw another swath of bombed-out ruins. Had Adolphe Koehl’s barbershop survived? He mustered up strength to pick his way past the flattened ruins of the adjoining building and spotted the barbershop untouched. What is more, he found Adolphe and Maria at work inside. Their excited welcome revived his spirits, and his heart nearly burst at the news that his beloved wife and Simone had returned home safely. They had been waiting for him for weeks.
The Koehls explained that the French Red Cross had been unable to locate the former prisoner Adolphe Arnold and had listed him as missing. They considered Emma a potential war widow. Maria Koehl accompanied Adolphe home, as he walked with difficulty. Climbing up to the second floor was nearly beyond his strength. While he paused halfway to rest, Maria rang the bell. Simone opened the door and learned that her father had come. But Adolphe passed by her without a glance and fell speechless in Emma’s arms. He finally looked at his girl, now 15, and asked in disbelief, “Are you Simone?” She had gotten her father’s last painting lesson at age 11.
Emma and Simone had returned a few weeks earlier and had begun the slow recovery process. Grateful that their husband and father had returned alive, they could see immediately that Adolphe had not yet won the fight against death. Moreover, his hearing loss tragically hindered their attempts at precious communication.
Adolphe barely made the first post-war family reunion in Bergenbach. His wife’s family had all survived, but not so in his hometown of Krüth. His stepfather Paul Arnold, with whom he had never reconciled, had been hit by shrapnel and died. His niece had fled after being publicly humiliated for having relations with German soldiers. The villagers had laid hold of her and sent her off with a shaved head. Her brother died as a German prisoner of war in Tambow, Russia. During the reunion, Adolphe tried to talk about his experience, but everyone shut him out. “Who wants to talk abut the past?” they said. “After all, we all suffered.”
The battle for life began anew. Food was scarce. With ration coupons and limited ingredients, Emma found ingenious ways to cook nourishing meals to build up Adolphe’s devastated body. Often she had to awake him from terrifying nightmares of fighting off cannibals, calming him with soothing words and herb tea. It took months for him to revive. Slowly, the trembling ceased. One day he picked up his pastels to draw a picture he had worked out in his mind during those long years. It took much effort and many days, but when the work was finished, he had the confidence to return to work at Schaeffer.
An American Jehovah’s Witness named Martin Harbeck met the Arnolds on one of his frequent visits to Bern, Switzerland. He gave Adolphe a hearing aid, which partially mitigated Adolphe’s hearing problem. But he still could not hear well enough to resume his position as colourist. The factory management offered Adolphe work he could do at home in accord with his disabilities. About two years later, he was given an elaborate design by a Parisian artist. Could he find a way to reproduce the print on fabric while using fewer colours to keep the price down for the African market? From his home studio, Adolphe originated the first four-color composition in textile print. From then on, Adolphe served as Schaffer’s creative artist for the so-called fancy styles designed exclusively for the French African colonies. (Samples of Adolphe’s work are part of the Schaffer and Company Collection in the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse. See http://www.musee-impression.com/default.html.)
Adolphe encountered another challenge with his daughter. Simone was now 15, and after nearly two years in a German reformatory, she had become quiet and distant. The outgoing 11-year-old was nowhere to be found. Simone’s lack of motivation pained Adolphe. She had been expelled from Nazi school at age 11, and she showed no interest in returning to school. Her father finally had her enrolled in the art school he had attended as a boy. She hoped to become a missionary, but Adolphe believed that she should learn a trade first. After two years in art school, he brought her work from the Schaeffer factory, and for the next two years they rebuilt their relationship over paint pots and brushes. Simone’s blossoming gave Adolphe and Emma profound satisfaction. Adolphe’s wit and zest for life finally returned, as did his sense of humour. He joked with Simone that his ears were only good for holding his glasses.
The family was knitted back together not only by art but by their common spiritual interests. Since their return alive from the inferno, all three had taken up their Christian activities. Adolphe had always been a devoted evangelizer and fine teacher. No matter the weather, he rode his bicycle, the same one he had ridden after his arrest, and reached people for miles around with the Bible message of hope. Adolphe’s eyes beamed once again.
Though his painful experiences had receded in the background, Adolphe often told his Bible students about the way he felt God’s watch-care over the family even when they were in the camps. His radiance and his recovery were proof in itself of the power of his faith. Simone again gave him added reason for joy and pride. Less than five years after their reunion, she left the house as a full-time evangelizer.
After Simone left, in 1950, Adolphe decided to continue doing her Schaeffer home work in the evenings. His hearing was gradually worsening, but he kept up the work for the next 12 years so he could support the international evangelizing work. After 50 years with the Schaeffer firm, his exceptional achievement and contribution to the company were rewarded with a gold medal.
Sadly one day he found his beloved Emma unconscious on the floor. She had had a heart attack. Adolphe, who was now completely deaf, needed Simone’s help. By this time Simone had married a fellow evangelizer, Max Liebster, and was living in Paris. They decided that the two couples would make a home together.
A full life and peaceful end
The Arnolds made their new family home in the beautiful alpine town of Aix-les-Bains, where as yet no congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses existed.
Adolphe’s great devotion to spreading hope about God’s coming Kingdom still burned within him, and he shared in helping many to build faith in Bible promises. When the Witnesses held large regional assemblies, the artist team of father and daughter painted huge murals as stage backdrops. Son-in-law Max, who had worked as a window dresser, provided the know-how, muscle, and enthusiasm to install these giant labours of love.
Max proved to be not only a son-in-law but a real son to Adolphe. During Bible discussions in people’s homes, he served as Adolphe’s ears, fielding questions and opening the way for Adolphe to share his faith. He regularly attended all congregational meetings in spite of his hearing loss. Simone sat next to him, writing notes and Bible citations for him to read. The family could only communicate with him through the written word.
Sister-in-law Eugenie, who had spent scarce time and money to send food parcels to Adolphe and Emma in the camps, moved to Aix to be near her sister. In 1974, she became a widow again, and Adolphe once more invited her to eat with the family every day. The final Sunday of 1977, Adolphe went out for the last time, sharing his faith and worshiping with the congregation. Two days later at the age of 80, Adolphe collapsed as he sat reading a Bible magazine, leaving his beloved Emma deeply grieved. Only a few hours earlier; he had helped Simone with a difficult fabric design.
Adolphe’s peaceful departure brought an end to a familiar picture—Adolphe and Emma sitting side by side, sharing together in writing of their mutual love and spiritual devotion.
Himmler visits Mauthausen
Himmler talking to SS Guards in Mauthausen concentration camp, 27th April 1941
In the Spring of 1941 Heinrich Himmler was busy planning the expansion of the concentration camp system in preparation for the invasion of Russia. On 27th April he visited Mauthausen, one of the first of the labour camps to be established in Austria. Mauthausen had originally been a labour camp for opponents of the Nazi regime but became one of the first ‘no return’ camps after the invasion of Poland. At this time it was being used for the ‘extermination through labour’ of Polish intelligentsia – a broad term for the Nazi’s that included included almost anyone reasonably well educated, including teachers, but also members of organisations like the boy scouts.
Himmler ascends the 'Stairs of Death' during his visit.
The 12 hour days of hard physical labour on a meagre diet were lethal for many of the inmates. But there were other more direct methods of killing. The ‘Stairs of Death’ involved long lines of prisoners carrying 50kg granite blocks up the stairs. Those who stumbled would fall on the prisoners following them, creating a domino effect that killed or injured dozens.
A later photograph of prisoners ascending the 'Stairs of Death' whilst carrying large stone blocks.
Lubertus (Bert) Schapelhouman
Lubertus (Bert) Schapelhouman was a Dutch Resistance fighter who was 19 years old at the time of his liberation from Mauthausen on May 5, 1945. Bert told the reporter that he had entered the camp in November 1944 weighing 160 pounds, but had wasted away to 78 pounds in only six months and was near death.
This quote about the liberation of Mauthausen is from the 2007 article by Jaime O’Neill:
There were others near him, all filthy, all emaciated, all confused. An American soldier approached him and the cluster of wretches nearby. He was the first black man any of them had ever seen. The soldier said something unintelligible. Next to Lubertus, two Hungarian Jews began to shout and gesticulate toward a guard tower. The American soldier took out his pistol and fired several rounds. A German guard who had been hiding in the tower tumbled to the ground.
“I can still see him falling through the air,” Bert says, and then he chuckles. “That’s terrible,” he says, “I shouldn’t laugh. It was a human life.” He shakes his head. And then he chuckles again.
According to Louis Haefliger, a Red Cross representative in the Mauthausen camp, most of the regular SS guards had left before the Americans arrived and Captain Kern of the Schutzpolizei (protection police) of Vienna had replaced Commandant Franz Ziereis on the night of May 2-3, 1945. The Vienna police occupied the guard posts, assisted by a few old men and young boys of the Volksstrum; most of the SS men had escaped to an island on the Danube river and only a few of them remained to help in guarding the camp.
The US Army was segregated during World War II with African-American and Japanese-American soldiers fighting in separate units. Mauthausen was liberated by white soldiers in the 11th Armored Division of the US Third Army, led by Staff Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek, who arrived on May 5, 1945.
Schapelhouman was not the only survivor of Mauthausen who claimed to have been liberated by black soldiers. Roman Frister, a young Jew who had just arrived at the main camp a few days before the liberation, on a death march from a work camp in Vienna, wrote in his book, “The Cap: The Price of a Life,” that one of the liberators who emerged from an American tank was a black soldier. According to Frister’s account, the black soldier called to the armed guards in the watch tower “Hitler kaput,” and signaled them to come down from the tower.
According to Frister’s account of the liberation, the black soldier ordered the guards to throw down their tommy guns and form a line; then “a group of prisoners darted forward and snatched the guns.” In Frister’s version of the liberation of Mauthausen, the black soldier did not shoot a guard in the tower.
In his August 2007 article, Jaime O’Neill wrote the following story about a Mauthausen inmate who died on Christmas Day in 1944, as told to him by Schapelhouman:
He was a Hungarian Jew, and both of his parents had been executed in the months preceding his own death. He was in bad shape. A Belgian priest, also an inmate at the camp, took pity on him because his suffering was notable even in this place of great suffering. Seeking solace, the boy told the priest he wanted to convert to Catholicism and so, secretly, the priest nurtured the boy in his faith, though all religious practices were forbidden in that camp. The inmates — political prisoners, gypsies, and Jews — were referred to by their keepers as nacht und nebel, “night and fog,” the forces of darkness and the underworld, and because they were seen as subhuman in all respects — the enemies of the Aryan light — they were not worthy of religious practices.
On Christmas Eve 1944, at this place of horror, while the German guards partied with girls from the nearby town, the priest held a clandestine baptismal mass for the boy, and for 28 other camp prisoners. Lubertus Schapelhouman was in that number.
The boy was weak, but he spoke of his desire to go to heaven. At the moment the boy was baptized, the Germans and their camp Kapos burst into the room and began to beat everyone, a storm of blows and curses, a pandemonium of pummeling and kicking and the heavy thudding of rubber-sheathed truncheons breaking bones. A kick or a punch — he would never know the source — threw Schapelhouman’s hip out of joint.
They were taken outside — the priest, the boy, and all the attendees of the forbidden Mass. It was 14 degrees below zero. The priest and the boy were made to strip naked and told to embrace, and then the guards drenched them with a hose. They froze in that position, died in that position, and the next day — Christmas — the entire camp was marched out to look at them — the frozen statuary of blasphemous baptism. “Augen raus.” Eyes right (sic). That was the command the Germans shouted as they marched the prisoners past the boy and the priest.
(“Eyes right” would be “Augen Recht” in German.)
The Nacht und Nebel prisoners at Mauthausen were resistance fighters who had been condemned to death for acts of sabotage, but were allowed to live; they disappeared into the “night and fog” and their relatives were made to believe that they had been executed.
There were few Jews and no Gypsies among the N.N. prisoners; the N.N. prisoners were not considered to be “subhuman.” All of the Nacht und Nebel prisoners in the concentration camps were illegal combatants, or spies who had been caught behind enemy lines in civilian clothes; they had violated the Geneva Convention and could have been legally shot.
After the Catholic Church complained about the treatment of priests in the concentration camps, Hitler ordered that all priests should be sent to Dachau, which was considered the mildest camp. Mauthausen was a Class III camp where prisoners, who were considered dangerous and beyond rehabilitation, were treated more severely. At Dachau, the priests were allowed to say Mass every day and to baptize anyone who wanted to be baptized.
Jaime O’Neill’s article continues with the following quote:
Then, the following spring, when the war was nearly over, new prisoners arrived at Mauthausen each day, driven there in forced marches from other concentration camps as allied forces closed in. On one such day, 600 women straggled into the camp, stumbling before the guns of the SS, a pitiful remnant of a group that had numbered 4,800 when their march began. The inmates of Mauthausen were assembled to greet them, to witness their degradation as the new arrivals were made to strip before the assemblage, were told that 200 of them would be chosen to serve as prostitutes to the Kapos, the camp guards. SS officers moved among the huddled women, using swagger sticks to lift a breast here, or stroke a thigh, gesturing to the slavering Kapos who were to make the selections. “What do you think of this?” in German, or “how about this one?”
Tears well up in Schapelhouman’s eyes as he stands to continue his story. “And then,” he says, “I heard a sound, a guttural growl of uncontainable rage, and a man charged out of our midst, ran toward the SS in a fury.” Bert tries to reproduce the sound the man made in his last moments on earth, the inchoate rage that drove him, and though the sound he makes is frightening as he tells the tale more than 60 years on, it is clearly restrained, a facsimile of hell itself, brought to life in a tidy suburban home far from where it happened.
They shot him, that berserk and enraged man, as he charged forward, and the story later went around the camp that he had become unhinged at the sight of his own daughter among the women.
Their fun over, the SS marched the women into the gas chambers, gassed all of them, and then cremated them. That 200 of them would be “spared” to become prostitutes had just been a joke, a way of taunting the Kapos.
Smoke from their cremation hung in the air for days. “I smell them all the time,” Bert says, “to this very day.” And sometimes, deep in the night, he smells them on his own flesh and goes from his bed to shower the phantom odor from his aging body before returning to his clean sheets and tortured sleep.
The Kapos were not “the most swinish and brutal of the camp guards,” but rather German criminals who were prisoners assigned to assist the guards in the camp.
All of the Nazi concentration camps had brothels for the use of the non-Jewish prisoners. In the fall of 1942, around ten women were brought from the Ravensbrück camp to staff a brothel at Mauthausen.
Even before he was sent to Mauthausen, Schapelhouman claimed that he had been subjected to the most brutal torture by the German Gestapo.
The following quote is from Jaime O’Neill’s article:
When he was 18, in 1944, the SS came to the family farm and took Lubertus and his brother away for interrogation. On the first day, the interrogators feigned kindness, offered him a cigarette, spoke in soft tones. But the second day, different men came into the room, and the soft interrogation was over.
On the second day of interrogation, they put his left hand in a vise and pulled out all of his fingernails. On the third day, they did the same to his right hand, and on the fourth day to his right foot, and on the fifth day, his left foot. On the sixth day, they knocked out all of his upper teeth.
“And you know what?” he asks, rhetorically; “they were drunk, those men. Always drunk. I could smell it on them.”
They wanted names of people in the Dutch resistance. They wanted to know who was hiding Jews. Lubertus had such information, but he gave them none of it.
Most interrogators would have given up after pulling out two or three fingernails and toenails, but not the Gestapo. They kept on, until the last toenail was removed and then knocked out all his upper teeth for good measure. But still the drunken Gestapo men continued to interrogate Schapelhouman.
O’Neill wrote the following story, which he had heard from Schapelhouman:
“After those days,” he says, “I have no idea how long I was there. They would bring me back for interrogation and I would faint before they ever struck a blow.” He shakes his head in puzzlement. “Isn’t that something? That we have such a saving mechanism built into us.”
Back in his cell, his body trembled all over with shock and pain. He couldn’t eat. “There are millions of nerves that jump, all over your body.” He couldn’t hold things, and he couldn’t walk. Not long after that, he was transferred to Mauthausen, a politische haftlung (sic), or political prisoner.
The story of how the Mauthausen Commandant, Franz Ziereis, allowed his son to kill 50 prisoners on his birthday has been told many times, and there are several variations of the story.
Bert Schapelhouman told the story to O’Neill, who wrote the following in his August 2, 2007 article in the SN&R:
The Kommandant at Mauthausen was a man named Ziereis. Bert spells the name carefully-”Z-I-E-R-E-I-S,” then pronounces it again. “When his son turned 14, Ziereis brought him into the camp, down among the prisoners. He told the boy to pick out 50 of the inmates, then handed him his long-barreled Luger and told him to kill those he’d chosen, those he’d counted off. The first time the boy tried, he flinched, and only managed to blow off a man’s ear, but soon he was proficient in the killing, and in 3 1/2 hours, he had killed all 50. His father hugged his son then and said for all to hear: ‘Now I know he is a man.’ “
Franz Ziereis was a mild-mannered man whose nickname among the prisoners was “Baby face.”
In a previous article in the SN&R weekly paper in 2006, Jaime O’Neill wrote the following information which he got from Bert Schapelhouman:
Each day the prisoners would walk 4 kilometers to a sub camp known as Gusen Zwei where they were made to work each day. They worked through that winter of 1944-45 in bitter cold, and dozens died each day, of exposure, exhaustion, malnutrition or brutalization. At the end of those work days–from dark to dark–the survivors would carry their dead back to the camp for cremation. Exhausted, stumbling in darkness, with the dead weight of a corpse on his back, Bert carried dead men from that Gusen Zwei sub camp back to the main camps (sic) on seven or eight occasions. Other nights he was luckier and all the corpses had been taken by prisoners ahead of him.
The Gusen II camp had 19 barracks buildings and the prisoners did not walk to the “Gusen Zwei” sub-camp from the main camp. For the Gusen II camp, the closest cremation ovens were at the nearby Gusen I sub-camp. The Gusen prisoners were not evacuated to the main Mauthausen camp before the American liberators arrived. The Gusen camps and the main camp were all liberated on the same day, May 5, 1945.
In his previous article in 2006, Jaime O’Neill wrote the following:
Bert remembers one German officer, a remarkable specimen — handsome, tall, radiant with good health. The first time Bert saw him, he thought he’d never seen a more perfect man, and something in the man’s appearance and demeanor gave Bert a faint hope of kindness or mercy. The officer walked past the assembled inmates, smiling, chatting with an aide. Then he singled out a prisoner, took out his Luger and shot the man dead. He did this each day for two months, picking a man at random and shooting him, the assembled prisoners shuddering fearfully before him waiting to see which of them he’d choose.
There were 200 cases of cruelty and corruption in the concentration camps which were tried by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, a German judge who was a member of the SS. Morgen testified at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal that he had examined 800 documents which resulted in 200 indictments of SS men who were staff members of the concentration camps. Dr. Morgen put five camp Commandants on trial, including Hermann Florstedt and Karl Otto Koch, both of whom were executed by the Nazis after being convicted in Morgen’s court.
The Commandant of a Nazi concentration camp could not order the death of a prisoner on his own authority. All execution orders had to come from the main office in Oranienburg which controlled everything that was done in the camps. If a German officer had selected a prisoner at random to shoot each day for two months, he would have been put on trial in Morgen’s court and sentenced to death if convicted.
Schapelhouman’s story of the handsome German officer shooting prisoners at random is reminiscent of Amon Goeth, the Commandant of the Plaszow camp, who is shown in the movie Schindler’s List shooting prisoners at random from the balcony of his house. Amon Goeth was awaiting trial in Morgen’s court when the war ended.
Every survivor’s story has one “good German.” He is the exception that proves the rule.
In Jaime O’Neill’s 2006 article in the SN&R, he tells the following anecdote, as related to him by Bert Schapelhouman:
In fact, the first German soldier he ever saw saved his life. He and two of his brothers were at a soccer game. It was 1943, three years after the occupation of his country had begun, more than a year since he’d become an onderduicker, but no Germans had yet found their way to Bert’s remote village. It was a Sunday afternoon when the rumor went through the spectators that the Germans were coming. And then they heard the sound of the vehicles approaching. Bert and his brothers took off running. Bert hid in a dry ditch thinking he’d keep quiet and wait until everyone went away. “All of a sudden,” he says, “there was a German with his rifle. Our eyes met, but he pretended he didn’t see me and just kept on walking.”
As Schapelhouman explained to Jaime O’Neill in his 2006 interview, “onderduicker” was a Dutch word which was used to describe a young person who had gone into hiding after being ordered to report for conscripted labor by the Nazis during the war-time occupation of Holland. Anne Frank’s sister Margo also received a notice to report to a labor camp, and that is the reason that the Frank family went into hiding. Schapelhouman was able to hide until October 1944 when he was arrested by the Gestapo.
Prem Dobiáš’ 1946 passport photo
The Dobiáš Human Rights Fellowship honors Prem Dobiáš, who spent three years at Mauthausen concentration camp (1942-1945) for smuggling Jews out of his native Czechoslovakia after the German invasion.
Prem Dobiáš’ 1946 passport photo. For many years after the war, Dobiáš worked with Simon Wiesenthal, another Mauthausen survivor, to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.
The “Cohen Report”
The “Cohen Report” was the basis for the first Mauthausen trial before a military tribunal in Dachau, and evidence for the war crimes trial at Nuremberg, where Dobiáš testified.
At the Nuremberg trials, Dobiáš offered testimony of the atrocities against prisoners that he experienced and witnessed at Mauthausen. Front row, from left: Nazi leaders Goering, Hess, von Ribbentrop, and Keitel.
Peter van Pels
This form records Peter van Pels’s arrival at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria on 25 January 1945. Peter is forced to do heavy work, and he becomes ill. In mid-April he is admitted to the camp’s hospital barracks. Peter van Pels dies on 5 May 1945, the day after the liberation of the camp.
Inmates at Mauthausen Concentration Camp
Inmates at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria pose before a tank in the closing days of the war. Some estimate the camp, geared to eliminating the intelligentsia of conquered nations, killed as many as 320,000.
Testimony Excerpts:: Edmund M
Col. Edmund M. was a First Lieutenant in the 65th Infantry Division of Patton's Third Army during World War II. He had fought through most of Germany into Austria when his unit, with the 11th Armored Division, stopped to wait for Soviet troops coming east from Vienna. Tanks of the 11th Armored Division were probing for German forces.
"Two or three tanks then stumbled upon Mauthausen concentration camp. ...There was no prior knowledge. ...I think it was pure chance that our American tanks found these. ...Almost immediately more and more tanks of the 11th Armored Division ...were the first to liberate the camp."
Colonel M. arrived shortly after the tanks.
"The thing that, I think, impressed all of us immediately was the horrible physical condition of most of the inmates. ...most of them in very, very bad shape. Some of them actually looked almost like living skeletons. ...I would estimate their average weight might have been probably eighty-five, ninety pounds....
I walked in then into one of the barracks, and the first thing, that almost literally startled me, was the terrific stench of the barracks. It was just unbelievable - the odor of excretions, etcetera, that were in there, that the inmates could not help over a period of time. It was just so much so that I first just wanted to grab my breath and maybe walk out immediately without going any further. But I took a deep breath, and went indeed further, and looked around, and... those that were in the, in the bunks in there were in very, very pitiful shape. The bunks were in a sense unbelievable. The bunks were roughly about, I'd say about six feet long, probably about three and a half or four feet wide. And they were triple-tiered, sort of like young children would be having, except one would be sleeping in them. Here we had three to four inmates sleeping in each of these bunks just squeezed together, literally like almost sardines."
Colonel M. was able to communicate with the prisoners through soldiers in his unit who spoke German and Yiddish. He was shown the quarry where many of the prisoners were slave laborers. He describes a two hundred foot drop from a precipice at the bottom of which were jagged stones strewn with broken and decomposing bodies.
"One hundred eighty-six steps of death that led from the bottom of this quarry up to the top of this precipice. ...This particular work detail...was one of the worst tortures. ...Inmates would carry these heavy stones up the one hundred and eight-six steps of death. ...Weighing only eighty, eighty-five, ninety pounds, were carrying stones weighing perhaps thirty-five, forty, forty-five pounds, up these steps...all day long. ...If they fell or stumbled...or dropped the rocks, very often they were beaten to death right on these one hundred eighty-six steps...[or] pushed from the precipice down to the jagged rocks below, to their deaths. ...Happened very often...went on constantly. The atrocity of the one hundred eight-six steps of death, which left such a vivid memory in my mind, that I have never, never forgotten these many years."
The liberators quickly learned from the prisoners the names of the camp officials and the atrocities they committed. Colonel M. visited the nearby town in which the civilians denied any knowledge of the camp. He believed "they just basically lied to us," since he learned inmates frequently were marched through the town. Colonel M. later arrested many SS and he participated in the Dachau war crime trials from January to June in 1946. He expresses his belief that justice was not served by the trials, since so few of the perpetrators were ever tried and, of those sentenced to death, few were executed. During this time, Colonel M. never met an SS soldier or camp official who expressed any remorse for the atrocities committed.
Col. Edmund M. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1219). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.The length of the complete testimony is 2 hours. A catalog record is available for this testimony in Orbis, the Yale University Library online public access catalog. Please see the Catalog and research guide section of this site for more information.
Jean Bourdet #42011
Jean Bourdet, a member of the anti-Nazi underground, betrayed by his own people. He was a political prisoner, deported to KL Mauthausen. According to certain testimony, he was last seen led by the Russians to Odessa. A recent research showed he had been imprisoned before in Regina Coeli Jail, Rome, from where he was deported to Mauthahusen. His fate is unknown, his memory and his sufferings will not be forgotten!
His name is Jean Bourdet born in Pau (France) on the 19.02.1919.
he arrived at the prison (Regina Coeli-Roma) on 03.01.1944 and he was deported. His number in KZ Mauthausen was: 42011.
EBENSEE Sub-camp of the MAUTHAUSEN concentration camp. Located in upper AUSTRIA, Ebensee was established in November 1943 to house inmates forced to build a tunnel system in the side of a mountain that would eventually contain a rocket-research factory.
Most of the prisoners came to Ebensee from the main camp at Mauthausen or from its other subcamps. At its peak, Ebensee held 18,437 prisoners. The first Jews arrived at Ebensee in early June 1944. They were subjected to extremely cruel treatment, and as a result their mortality rate was much higher than that of the rest of the camp population. By April 1945 the overcrowding was so bad at Ebensee that more prisoners died daily than could be handled by the crematorium. That month, 4,547 prisoners out of a total population of 16,000 perished.
On April 30 the Nazis released most of the German prisoners and halted all forced labor. On May 5 the camp commandant tried to get the remaining prisoners to enter one of the mountain tunnels; they refused, and the camp staff left. On May 6 American troops liberated Ebensee, and found that same tunnel full of explosives. By refusing to enter the tunnel, the prisoners had saved themselves from being blown up by the Germans. Altogether, about 11,000 prisoners died at Ebensee.
The day of liberation in the sub-camp Ebensee, 6.5.1945
Regina Franks #34679
For more than 30 years, Regina Franks wore the number 34679 on her forearm. She vowed that it would be part of her always – a searing reminder of the two years she spent in Nazi concentration camps. Finally, she came to believe that it made her work as a medical social worker more difficult and had it removed by surgery.
In 1996, she took her own life, haunt by the ghosts of her past, by the death of her daughter and ill health. Her story lives on as an undying testament to the courage of a young woman who found herself marked for death but somehow survived.
At the HMD09 National Commemoration in Coventry, Regina’s granddaughters recounted her story.
(As told to journalist, Peter Walters)
Regina grew up in the town of Hrubieszow in eastern Poland, the eldest child of a Jewish town councillor who was taken as a hostage, marched into the forest and shot by the Nazi invaders soon after the war began.
A fluent German speaker, the legacy of an Austrian-born grandfather, Regina was put to work scrubbing barrack blocks for the occupying Germany Army, work that for a time shielded her family from the SS.
But one day she returned from work to find the entire family – her mother, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins – missing. She never saw them again.
‘I was told my mother had left me a note’ she once recalled, ‘but I never found it. I’ve always felt that she was telling me I must survive and from that moment on I had a burning desire not to be beaten.’
Regina’s gift for languages – she spoke Russian and Yiddish as well as German and Polish – was useful to the Nazis and she was sent to prison in Frankfurt to work as an interpreter.
After a failed escape bid, she spent eight terrifying months in jail as a ‘terrorist suspect’ before being moved to Auschwitz, where, the guards informed her, she would be ashes within two weeks.
Her first sight of the women’s camp, with the bodies of those hanged that day still strung up at the gates, prompted feelings that were to become ever-present over the next two years.
‘I thought quite calmly that this was the end,’ she remembered, ‘and was only glad that my mother was not there to see what had happened to me.’
Desperate not to die silent, she screamed defiance at the SS guards, but instead of being shot out of hand was put to work with thousands of others building the railway that would later bring victims of the Holocaust straight to the gas chambers.
It seems incredible that she survived, particularly as on many occasions she deliberately courted death as a way out of her misery. But each time events reprieved her.
In the months before Auschwitz became the scene of mass gassings, typhus and typhoid were the biggest killers. Regina had been inoculated against both as a child.
Later she contracted malaria – a certain passport to death in the experimental laboratories – but was shielded by the Russian labour commando for whom she was working as an interpreter.
As a runner taking messages round the camp, she learned in advance which blocks were earmarked for death that night and avoided them.
As an interpreter too, she faced appalling dilemmas. At one point she was among a group of women sent to the neighbouring men’s camp to translate confessions extracted under torture.
Having endured this ordeal for several days, the group decided to risk death by refusing, but were saved when one of the women contracted typhus and they were confined to their own camp.
Regina was working in the kitchens as the Soviet Army advanced on Auschwitz, and was in the last group marched out by the SS, on a journey that took them to Mauthausen concentration camp and finally on to Belsen.
It was a death march, conducted in the depths of winter, and by the time the British liberated Belsen in April 1945, Regina was the only one left alive of the 160 prisoners who had arrived in Auschwitz in her convoy two years before.
The 60th Anniversary of Liberation by Ralph Harpuder
Having fled with my parents from Germany to Shanghai in 1939, where I spent eight years, six of those before the liberation by US troops, yours truly wishes to join in spirit the countries that commemorated on their postage stamps this year the 60th Anniversary of Liberation of Concentration Camps. A stamp from Austria, shown in , was perhaps the most graphic and thought provoking attention getter to be discussed later in the article.
Thanks to China’s open door policy in the late 30’s, close to twenty-thousand Jews that may have fallen victim to the Holocaust found refuge in Shanghai. A German Nazi passport of my mother, with the mandated middle- name, “Sara”, shows a rubber stamp from the Chinese emigration authority at Point of Entry. Considering that they came to a land that was strange to them compounded by make-shift housing and primitive surroundings, they led a comparatively, to say the least, comfortable life.
Those that stayed, however, in Europe by choice following “Kristal Nacht,” or were unable to leave anymore, were not as fortunate.
An official envelope from the onset of the camp when prisoners were still allowed to write to their loved ones.
Below: An envelope sent by an inmate from Dachau Concentration Camp to a relative in Vienna
Voting Identification Card
Austria had no compunction by releasing the stamp in spite that this act of “man’s inhumanity to man” was carried out in their own country after the Austrian National Socialists took power following the “Anschluss,” the annexation of Austria into the German Reich in 1938. Jews were also bared from participation in the election in Graz, as shown on a voting identification card while Austrian intellectuals and known personalities publicly supported Hitler’s annexation.
Bodies Found After Mauthausen Liberation
Bodies found after liberation by the 11th armored and 26th infantry divisions.
Battered Inmate Photographed by the SS During the Operation of Mauthausen
Images of Mauthausen inmates from an SS photo album
Recollections of Mauthausen, May 1945
By Capt. Alexander Gotz MD, MEDICAL DETACHMENT
41ST Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized
I find it very difficult to reconstruct events accurately when they happened more than 60 years ago, even though they were of importance historically and to me personally. What does stand out is a number of visual, auditory, and even olfactory impressions which, taken together, remind me of what I experienced in the first half of May 1945 in the Concentration Camp Mauthausen in Austria. It was a glorious warm and sunny day in the first week of May when my driver, Edwards, and I wound our way up the serpentine road from the village of Mauthausen on the Danube to the top of the hill where the camp stood. About half way up we noticed a sweetish odor, which became stronger as we approached the summit, and which was unmistakably that of decaying bodies.
As we entered the imposing gate which opened onto a large parade ground we were greeted by bedlam: A mixture of wild shouts, snatches of band music and singing. The square was packed with a crowd of jubilant inmates, some of them in their grimy and tattered striped uniforms and many almost naked. In the center stood a raised platform on which a pitiful group of German bandsmen in their grey-green army uniforms (not the black SS ones) were made to play Nazi marches and songs and whatever else the crowd demanded. While this went on they were also beaten and jeered. We were witnessing a picture of uninhibited release of joy to have survived unspeakable horrors and to be finally free and alive, mixed with hatred of their fallen torturers who were now as defenseless as they had been just hours ago. I felt like witnessing some macabre and grotesque opera with the performers barely resembling human beings. We were so stunned and shocked by what we were witnessing that none of us, and there were a few more men from our unit and other units of the 11th Armored Division in the crowd, was able to react in any way to this spectacle for what seemed like a very long time. Eventually the musicians were rescued and locked up before being torn to pieces by the crowd.
Within the next few days I received orders from division to oversee the evacuation of the surviving inmates to the evacuation hospitals which were being set up in the neighborhood. There they were to be sorted out, treated and, if they survived, discharged and if possible repatriated. I owed this assignment to the fact that I was known to speak Russian, German, Italian, and French. The prisoners of Mauthausen represented every nationality of Nazi-occupied Europe; including even about a dozen survivors of the Spanish Republican Army, defeated by Franco in 1939 and turned over to the Germans by Vichy France. They had been used as waiters in the SS officers mess. they were also the first ones to drape a touching message of thanks to us for liberating them onto one of the building, along with a flag of the Spanish Republic. I had ample opportunity to use all the languages I knew during the ensuing two weeks.
It was only when I began my work in the camp that the immensity of the horrors committed by the Germans and their multinational henchmen against the rest of humanity began to sink in. But even so, the suffering and deaths were of such a magnitude that expression of normal human grief or courage became impossible. I simply froze emotionally and did my job. We went from barrack to barrack. (I worked with one of my sergeants.) We found many dead lying on the triple tiered bunks, along with people who had been too weak to have crawled out, and most of whom died after we found them and carried them into daylight. We also found a huge number of rigid corpses, stacked like so much cordwood. these were the ones the Germans had not been in time to burn.
The townspeople of Mauthausen were brought up and given a tour of what had been taking place on the hill overlooking their homes for several years. There were emotional outbursts and hysterics. Some women fainted, and all of them denied any knowledge of the terrible things being done to people just above their heads. We had a number of crude coffins made, without lids and with carrying bars on each side, and made the men from the village carry the bodies to the long trenches which our division engineers were bulldozing for them. There they were laid to rest while several of our chaplains said prayers for them. The sad labor went on for several days, because people continued to die in considerable numbers, even after. the liberation.
As for the living, I found out that they had been housed by nationalities and that each barrack had a spokesman with whom I dealt. They were men of authority and education and all of them wanted their group to be evacuated right away as soon as they saw the ambulances appear. I settled all arguments by telling them that we would proceed systematically down each row of buildings and empty them as we went along. No exceptions were made to that rule. Fortunately the weather remained lovely and warm throughout. I made the men strip and leave their rags behind. They had no possessions. We packed them standing up into the ambulances for the short trip to the hospital. A pitiful and yet happy human cargo. They were the live ones at least. Of these survivors many were in more or less reasonable conditions. They were the fittest, or else they would have been in the mass graves or ashes in the crematoria. The vast majority of the survivors were not Jews, because the thousands of Jews brought to Mauthausen were dead by the time we arrived, having been singled out for special consideration by their Nazi hosts. What did I, a Jew, think or feel all those days I spent on Mauthausen hill? I don't think that I was able to feel much in the face of this much cruelty and horror. One is left with a sense of dull pain and a perpetual hatred for those who conceived and perpetrated all this, with inhuman efficiency and discipline.
Another sad and regrettable fact with which we had to deal at Mauthausen was the animosity which
people of different nations have for each other. There were. many Russian and Polish POW's in the camp, (contrary to the Geneva Convention of course). They began fighting with each other soon after they were liberated. There were several deaths. Ironically, we had to man the Nazi watchtowers anew, this time With US soldiers and machine/guns, in order to keep those old enemies and fellow sufferers from killing each other. I have never gone back to Mauthausen. Once was enough.
There is a darkened hall in the Yad Vashem, the National Holocaust Memorial Park, in Jerusalem, where an eternal light flickers by the name of each one of the Germans' concentration camps. It is a large hall and Mauthausen is just one of many names on the floor of that hall.
I have decided to conclude my Mauthausen recollections with the story of a young Russian inmate named Eugene, because it has a potentially happy ending arising out of all the preceding horror . It is dedicated to the men of the Medical Detachment of the 41st Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), of the 11th Armored Division. They served with me through the entire Battle of the Bulge and saved many lives bravely and cheerfully, never losing compassion, kindness and their sense of humor. Toward evening of the day when Mauthausen was liberated our group was driving along headed for a village where we were to set up our aid station. Someone spotted a body sprawled In the roadside ditch and we stopped to investigate. It was a young man wearing the tattered Uniform of the .Inmates. He was covered with many infected wounds which turned out to be dog bites. He was unconscious, feverish, with a barely perceptible pulse and rapid shallow breathing.
In short he was near death. I felt and said that the poor fellow was beyond help and that we' should find and notify the people who were collecting the dead for burial. There was instant and strongly expressed disagreement from my men. "Please, Captain, let's give him a chance. The war is over and we are going to have more time, and we have just received our first supply of penicillin, the wonder drug.”
I gave .In, and was actually a bit ashamed of my rashly negative decision..So we picked him up and took him with us to a farm house which we picked out, and which had quite a nice sofa in the main room. The men stripped him, bathed him, tended to the innumerable wounds and gave him some intravenous fluids which we happened to carry. I started injections of the precious penicillin, the first I ever used. The results were miraculous. Within 24-48 hours our dying patient regained consciousness. He began looking around and observing us, without saying a word for a long time. He began taking liquids which the men fed him carefully.
I had decided that he was probably Russian. He was blond, and had high cheekbones. I began by asking him in Russian what his name was. After a surprised silence he said "Eugene" Some time later He asked if I was a doctor, having spotted the caduceus on my collar. He was obviously very bright and observant, which we all realized as he was gaining strength under the excellent care he was getting. It turned out that he had been a sergeant in the Signal Corps of the Red Army, taken prisoner and thrown Into Mauthausen. Shortly before the liberation. He had been punished for some little infraction by being chained to one of the rings in the wall of the main square which we had seen. Then, specially trained police dogs were sicced on him, until he collapsed and was left to die. He had somehow managed to crawl away after the liberation, only to lose what little strength he had left, until we found him.
During the days which followed and while he was recovering he and I had many Interesting and revealing talks. At first he had to overcome the reticence and distrust of a person of rank and authority which had been drilled into him from childhood and brought to extremes by the rigid army discipline. It was hard for him to understand the rather informal and friendly relations between my men and myself. Once he grasped the significance of our true democracy, he was very deeply impressed and decided there and then never to return to the Soviet Union. He told me how he and his own father with whom he had worked in some big factory had not dared to discuss any subjects which could have been interpreted as been critical of the authorities, because father and son were not trusting each other.
Eugene learned quickly and adapted himself to our daily routine, showing his gratitude by helping with chores as soon as he became strong enough. Time went fast and we soon received orders to more to a new location in Austria. My commanding officer, the late Lt. Colonel H. Foy, who was a very fine and understanding man, reluctantly denied my plea to take Eugene with us until he was fully recovered, it being against army. regulations. I was not in favor of turning this still weak and helpless young man loose Into the maelstrom of recently liberated Austria, swarming with displaced persons of many nationalities, most of them destitute and hungry. Fortunately, however, I ran Into a fellow medical officer in the evacuation hospital with whom I had served in the Pacific Theater before being sent to Europe. I asked him to take Eugene under his wing for awhile until he grew stronger and able to fend for himself. As an inducement I offered. him a trophy Luger pistol which at the time were highly prized souvenirs. Reconnaissance Squadron had many, having taken large numbers of German prisoners during the final stages of the war.
When the last day came, we took our friend Eugene to the evacuation hospital, shook hands and embraced almost tearfully, and sadly parted forever. He was smiling bravely, looking fine in the GI uniform with which he had been fitted by our guys. He was alive, and had a future before him, thanks to the caring and kindness of a small group of American medics.
The Liberation of a Sub-camp of Mauthausen
by Lyle S Storey
PFC Robert Sorensen of Indendence, Missouri, (now deceased) and myself, CPL Lyle Storey, as liaison scouts for the 608th FA Bn, 71st Division, while on a scouting detail, found a concentration camp and removed the lock on the gate. This was in the Wels, Austria area and presumably a sub-camp of the Mauthausen group. The name of the town excapes me; however, I do remember the details of the camp very well and I am spending a part of May in an attempt to locate the site.
A short distance beyond the main wire gate, now unguarded, was a pile of bodies, each nothing more than bones with skin stretched tightly over them. A gentleman in civilian clothes even though we understood him to be a prisoner and perhaps a doctor approached us, accompanied by a young lad of about 11 or 12 years of age. The boy was sucking on a sliver of fat which had long lost any value as a food. The gentleman showed us a festering hole in the rear of the boys head as he asked for medical supplies. The tar-paper barracks lined the rim of a slope of about 50 ft high, at the bottom of which sat a white two story farmhouse and milk house.
I sent Sorensen with the jeep to locate some food and notify the medics of the conditions found here. I proceeded down the narrow dirt road to the farm house. As this was a hostile area, even thought the war was almost over, my anger at the conditions found in the camp overruled any caution that I should have been using.
Neither the farmer nor his wife was aware of the camp, which was quite visible from the farm house. They and their milk maid were quite frightened as I threatened to take their cows to feed the prisoners. Searching the house, I found no weapons, but did locate a "mothers medal" which I still have.
Walking back up to the camp, I found Sorensen trying to hold off the prisoners. I climbed onto the hood of the jeep and asked the gentleman if he would explain to the crown that medical help was on the way as well as food . We asked that they not go out of the compound; however, some had already left in the search of food which some had found in nearby houses. I recall one prisoner who had died with his face buried in a red, berry pie.
Looking into the empty eyes, I knew that such pleadings were not registering. We had reported the locations and knew that we were pushing our luck by staying longer; therefore, we then continued on our scouting detail. Now from what we had seen of the war to this point, one might feel that we would be numb to such sights; however, what we saw in that camp truly stunned us. The feeling is still with me, some 50 years later.
My point here is that I hope that some survivor of the camp might recognize the camp and town from the brief description. It would assist me in my search as I travel to the area in May. If you think you recognize the camp, please write to Lyle S Storey.
Handmade American flag, pieced together from salvaged cloth and nazi flag; presented to Col. Richard Seibel by liberated inmates of Mauthausen concentration camp. At Col. Seibel's instructions, the flag was flown over the camp for the duration of the American administration. Note the 56 stars (instead of the 48 correct at that time) and 13 stripes, points of debate among survivors. Owning Library: Simon Wiesenthal Center Library and Archives
The "discovery" of Gusen
The "discovery" of Gusen
"Bergkristall" tunnels in St. Georgen on the 5th of Mai 1945
On the morning of 5 May 1945, a patrol of 23 men from the 41st Cavalry Squadron under the command of Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek was sent from Katsdorf south in order to spy out an enemy position and to examine the state of the bridge across the river Gusen near St. Georgen.
A few hours later, entirely unexpectedly and contrary to their original mission, these troops entered the concentration camps Gusen and Mauthausen as liberators.
From the account of Albert J. Kosiek, in: „Thunderbolt“, 1955:
„From the distance there was suddenly the muffled sound of a motor. The men in our vehicles immediately alerted themselves. Through the field glasses we were able to pick up a motor cycle and a white touring car with a red cross on the hood. (...). Out of the car stepped two SS captains, the driver and a man dressed in civilian clothes. The civilian was an International Red Cross Affiliate and the spokesman for this unholy mob. (...) From what we could determine from these people Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek, commander of the 23-headed patrol of the 41. Cavalry Squadron, that liberated Mauthausen and Gusen there was a large concentration camp beyond the bridge that we were supposed to check. The Red Cross man was trying to contact an American General to surrender this camp (...).“
Luis Häfliger, Swiss delegate of the International Red Cross, who had stood up for the early release of concentration camp prisoners even prior to liberation, knew of rumors regarding the supposed SS plans to annihilate the prisoners at Gusen concentration camp. Together with SS Obersturmführer (Lieutenant) Guido Reimer of Mauthausen, he set off to make contact with US troops and to pilot them to Gusen and Mauthausen.
Kosiek and his troops came across sub-camp Gusen III in Lungitz before they met Häfliger. Passing through St. Georgen, they were first of all led to Gusen II and then to Gusen I. The troops stayed in Gusen only briefly and then continued on to Mauthausen. On their way back, in late afternoon, they disarmed some 800 guard detachments of the ‘Feuerschutzpolizei’ (Fire Protection Police) in Gusen, who offered no resistance. Together with around 1000 Fire Protection Police from Mauthausen they took them as prisoners of war to Gallneukirchen, the headquarters of Combat Command B.
Liberation and post-war years in Linz
On May 5, 1945, the Mauthausen concentration camp was liberated by American troops. Cyla Wiesenthal survived the war partly in the Polish underground and then, until the end of the war, as a forced laborer working in a factory in Heiligenhaus, Germany. False Polish identity papers and her blond hair and blue eyes had let her pass as an “Aryan”. Together, the Wiesenthals lost 89 family members during the period of Nazi terror.
Almost immediately after his liberation, Simon Wiesenthal took up the activity, which at first gave him the strength to go on living and which was to become his self-imposed
mission in life: to search for Nazi perpetrators and bring them to a court of law. As early as May 25 – only 20 days after liberation from Mauthausen – he presented to U.S. Colonel Richard Seibel, who had taken over command of the camp, a letter offering to help bring Nazi criminals to justice. This document contains his curriculum vitae and a list of 91 Nazi perpetrators, SS men and Gestapo agents who had either caused Wiesenthal to suffer personally or who had committed crimes against his fellow prisoners.
After a few days he began work for the U.S. War Crimes Unit, and later for the OSS, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, and for the CIC, the Counter Intelligence Corps, in Linz, Austria. He collected testimonies from survivors in the camps for displaced persons, compiled lists of Nazi criminals, and was even allowed to make arrests on his own. The majority of the roughly 2000 Nazi criminals, who were made to stand trial, were arrested in the early post-war months when many of the former Nazis were still in close proximity and numerous victims in the camps for displaced persons were able to testify against them.
In September 1946, the Wiesenthal’s daughter, Pauline, was born.
In the same year, Wiesenthal established a Jewish committee of survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Its members helped compile lists of criminals and witnesses andstrove to reunite families in the displaced persons camps.
After leaving the CIC in 1947, Wiesenthal opened his own private office - the Jüdische Historische Dokumentations, the Jewish Historical Documentation Center, in Linz - and, together with thirty volunteers, continued to search out Nazi criminals and gather evidence for their prosecution. He was to carry on this work in Linz until 1961.
During this period he earned his living partly as a freelance journalist, often calling attention to neo-Nazi activities. For some time he also worked for
- the Bricha (“escape”), the Jewish underground movement which supported the illegal immigration of displaced persons to Palestine, and for
- the Jewish charitable Organization for Rehabilitation and Training (ORT), organizing vocational and language training for displaced persons and refugees from Hungary and other Eastern European countries who planned to emigrate to the new state of Israel or elsewhere.
For years, he pursued what can be considered his most important case, the case of Adolf Eichmann. His persistent efforts to track down this “technocrat of death” contributed substantially to Eichmann’s apprehension by the Mossad (the Israeli intelligence service) in Argentina, in 1960, and to his trial and death sentence in Israel, in 1961. The investigative work leading to the final identification of Eichmann’s whereabouts is described in Wiesenthal’s book Ich jagte Eichmann (I Hunted Eichmann).
With interest in the prosecution of Nazi criminals generally waning, Wiesenthal’s work became increasingly difficult. More and more former Nazis found employment in Allied organizations as agents of the Cold War, while others soon regained positions in private and public institutions in Germany and in Austria.
A Half-dead Prisoner Found Lying in his own Filth
Walter Beck was born on 8 February 1921 in Olomouc.
After studying at the schools with the teaching of German at the beginning of World War II joined the anti-fascist resistance. Illegal activities ran up to arrest the fall of 1941. He was arrested in Prague Pankrac and then transported to a concentration camp in Mauthausen, where he was interned until the end of the war.
Thanks to the excellent German skills got there "prominent" feature scribe and thus escaped the harshest persecution. After the war, sympathized with the Communist Party, but after 1948 his opinions reviewed. Instead of the previous work in the shipping company had to because of their political attitudes to work cutters.
- 8 February 1921
Albine Pallaoro (nee; Hunner)
Albine Pallaoro (nee; Hunner)
Was a female guard at the Mauthausen and Ravensbruck camps during the final faze of World War II.
Albine was born in Linz a. d. Donau (Linz on the Danube) on December 4, 1916 as Albine Hunner. She later married.
On September 15, 1944 she reported to Mauthausen camp to undergo guard training. Evenetually she worked as an Aufseherin in the camp kitchen, overseeing several women prisoners there. Sometime later Albine was one of several female overseers who accompanied a transport of women to the Ravensbruck camp near Berlin. She stayed there until the Soviets neared the camp. Albine has never been charged with being a member of an SS affiliate, which was declared after the war, a criminal organization.
- December 4, 1916~
Jane Bernigau was an SS supervisor in Nazi concentration camps before and during World War II.
In 1938 she joined the camp staff at the Lichtenburg early camp in eastern Germany. There because of her willingness to get her job done she was promoted to chief wardress (Oberaufseherin).
In May 1939 Jane went to Ravensbruck as deputy to the head guard where she trained new comers into the SS women's auxiliary. Eventually Jane was posted to Gross Rosen in 1941 as chief wardress.
After that she went back to Ravensbruck and again back to Gross Rosen. Jane received the "Kriegsverdienstkreuz II Klassen ohne Schwerter" medal in 1943 for her devotion to the Reich and her camp services.
In September 1944, Jane was sent as supervising wardress to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Soon after she served in the St. Lamprecht subcamp, and when the Americans came near the camp she was called back to serve at Mauthausen. Jane fled the camp in early May 1945 and has never been prosecuted for her war crimes.
- October 5, 1908
Margarete Freinberger was an SS supervising wardress in two concentration camps during the last two years of World War II.
Margarete Freinberger was born on June 11, 1919 in Grieskirchen, Austria.
In Septmeber 1944, because the Mauthausen camp had opened a women's section, she was called to serve in the Mauthausen camp in Austria. Immediately Margarete began impressing her superiors with her abuse so Jane Bernigau promoted her to chief wardress Oberaufseherin. In November 1944, Margarete became second in charge of 500 women prisoners at the Lenzing subcamp, located close to Mauthausen. There she continued her abuse and cruelness. As the Americans swept through Austria the young SS woman fled Lenzing.
She was never prosecuted for her crimes in the Mauthausen and Lenzing camps.
- June 11, 1919 ~
Marie Herold was an SS guard at two concentration camps during the final chapter of World War II.
Marie was born in Zetterding, Austria on July 31, 1918. Working in a factory, the Nazis forced her to appear at the Mauthausenconcentration camp for basic guard training. On September 15, 1944, the reluctant woman was trained under Jane Bernigau and sent to work as an Aufseherin. Soon after she accompanied a transport of women to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. Marie fled the camp after the death march and was never captured.
Her fate remains unknown.
- July 31, 1918
Anna Kern was a SS overseer at a concentration camp during World War II.
Anna was born on March 9, 1921 in Gainfarm, Austria. In 1944, as the guard shortage in the camps became severe, Anna was conscripted to the Mauthausen camp in Austria to undergo a hasty course to train her to be a camp guard. On September 1, 1944, she arrived at the camp.
Anna served in the camp until its liberation in May 1945, and has never been tried for war crimes.
- March 9, 1921
In October 1942, at the age of 22, the matron was called to serve at Majdanek as an Aufseherin.
In 1944 Hildegard went on to serve at Plaszow camp near Krakow, and at Auschwitz Birkenau. The ruthless overseer fled the camp in December 1944 on the heels of the advancing Red Army. There are reports that her last overseeing job was at Mauthausen camp in Austria.
Because of her war crimes at Auschwitz and Plaszow, the former guard and mother of two children was given a sentence of 15 years imprisonment. Hildegard was released in 1956 from a Krakow prison.
In 1975 the German government decided to try 16 former SS guards from the Majdanek concentration/death camp. Hildegard was one of them, along with Hermine Braunsteiner and Alice Orlowski. From November 26, 1975, until June 30, 1981, the accused sat in the Düsseldorfcourtroom.
The testimonies heard against Lachert were long and sadistic. One former prisoner, Henryka Ostrowska, testified, "We always said blutige around the fact that she struck until blood showed," giving her the nickname "Bloody Brigitte." Many other witnesses characterized her as the "worst" or "cruelest" Aufseherin, as "Beast," and as "Fright of the prisoners." For her part in selections to the gas chamber, releasing her dog onto inmates and her overall abuse, the court sentenced her to 12 years imprisonment.
- January 20, 1920~1995
Marianne Pagel (or Pagl)
Marianne Pagel (or Pagl) was a guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp during the last months of World War II.
Marianne was born in Kirchberg, Austria on April 30, 1923. In 1944 she was conscripted to be a camp guard and sent to Mauthausen. On November 4, 1944 she began her training under Jane Bernigau. Eventually she oversaw part of the women's camp in Mauthausen.
When the camp was about to be liberated, Marianne fled and was never charged with war crimes.
- April 30, 1923
Amalie was a guard at the Mauthausen and Ravensbruck camps during the last years of World War II.
Amalie Payrleitner was born in Vienna, Austria on June 16, 1922. In 1944, as the call for guards became more desperate, Amalie was forced to become a camp guard for the Nazis.
On October 1, 1944, she reported to the Mauthausen camp in near Linz to be trained as an SS elite guard. Eventually, Amalie, as well as Albine Pallaoro oversaw a transport of female prisoners to Ravensbruck camp. There she continued out her duties until the camps liberation.
Amalie has never been charged with war crimes.
- June 16, 1922
Therese Pichler (born Therese Stumme) was an overseer at the Mauthausen concentration camp during the Second World War.
Therese Stumme was born in Salzthal, Austria on June 15, 1911. She later married and worked as a homemaker.
Her fate after the war remains a mystery.
Eleonore Poelsleitner was a female guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.
Born on October 2, 1920 in Unterach, Austria, Eleonore Poelsleitner became a female overseer at the Mauthausen camp on November 1, 1944. She trained under Jane Bernigau and has never been prosecuted for war crimes.
All information on Eleonore Poelsleitner was found in Daniel Patrick Brown's book "THE CAMP WOMEN The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System"
- October 2, 1920
Antonia was a female guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp from November 1944, until May 1945.
Antonia Rachbauer was born on April 12, 1904 in Neukirchen, Austria.
On November 1, 1944 she became a female guard at Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria. She stayed there until the camp was liberated in May 1945 and has never been prosecuted.
- April 12, 1904
Elsa was a female matron at two concentration camps in Nazi occupied Europe.
Elsa Rascher was born in Kirchberg, Austria on November 8, 1915.
She became a female guard at Mauthausen sometime between September and November 1944. She was merely an Aufseherin, and later served at the Markkleeberg subcamp of Buchenwald. She fled the camp in April 1945, and has never been tried for war crimes.
- November 8, 1915
Anna was a female concentration camp guard at a Nazi camp from the fall of 1944, until the spring of 1945.
Anna Reischer was born in Enzesfeld, Austria on March 3, 1921. On September 1, 1944, at the age of twenty-three, Anna began her guard training at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.
Little is known about her conduct in the camp. She fled the camp in early May 1945 with the arrival of the US Army.
- March 3, 1921
Her ultimate fate remains unknown.
- October 20, 1922
Gilbert Norman ~Inmate
In November 1942 he was sent into France to join the newly formed Prosper network, but on June 23, 1943 was arrested by the Gestapo. together with cell leader Francis Suttill and courier Andrée Borrel.
The Germans used Norman's captured wireless set, to transmit their own false messages to SOE Headquarters in Baker Street. Norman attempted to warn London that he was in captivity by not giving the German's the second part of his security check, which they did not know about, but was frustrated when London sent a curt reply telling him to correct the omission.
The Germans were thus able to set a trap which resulted in the capture of Jack Agazarian who had been sent with Nicholas Bodington to investigate the fate of the Prosper network.
Major Gilbert Norman is honored on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey, England and as also on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departément of France.
- 1914~September 6,1944
American Soldiers Find List of Murdered Prisoners at Gusen
(May 12, 1945)
Corporal Jack R. Nowitz (center), a lawyer on the staff of the Judge Advocate General, 3rd U.S. Army, checks books listing exterminations at Gusen.
Austrians Forced to Dig Graves for the Dead at Gusen
(May 5-10, 1945)
American soldiers force Austrian citizens to dig mass graves for corpses found at Gusen
Bodies Removed By Austrian Civilians at Gusen
(May 12, 1945)
Some of the bodies being removed by civilians for burial at Gusen Concentration Camp,Mauthausen, near Linz, Austria. Men were worked in nearby stone quarries until too weak to continue, then killed.
Camp Guard Killed After Liberation of Gusen
(May 12, 1945)
Survivors and U.S. soldiers stand over the corpse of a camp guard killed by survivors at Gusen
Dissection Table at Mauthausen
Eigruber During War Crimes Trial
(Mar 29, 1946-May 13, 1946)
August Eigruber, former Gauleiter of Linz, and a defendant at the trial of 61 former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen. Eigruber was sentenced to death on May 13, 1946.
Inmates Await Disinfection in Mauthausen
Six thousand inmates await disinfection in a Mauthausen courtyard,
July 1941. After 24 hours of waiting, nearly 140 had died.
Prisoner in Chains
At Mauthausen, inmates were chained for three days without food or water.
Zutter and Bachmayer: Tormentors At Mauthausen
Mauthausen Commandant Franz Ziereis
Ziereis after being shot and captured by U.S. forces.
House of SS General Franz Ziereis
Franz Xaver Ziereis
(August 13, 1905 - May 24, 1945)
Was the commandant of theMauthausen-Gusen concentration camp from 1939 until the camp was captured by the Allied powers in 1945.
Ziereis was born on August 13, 1905 in Munich, Germany. Ziereis spent 8 years in elementary school and then began as an apprentice and messenger boy in a department store. In the evenings he studied commerce. In 1922 he went to work as a labourer in a carpentry shop.Military Career
Ziereis joined Germany's Reichswehr (army) on April 1, 1924, for a period of 12 years. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant on September 30, 1936, he then joined the SS. He attained the rank of SS Obersturmführer (SS first lieutenant). In 1937 he was given command of the 22nd Hundertschaft (hundred-man-unit) of the SS Totenkopf detachment "Brandenburg." Ziereis' unit was assigned to after the Anschluss with Germany. On July 1, 1938, he transferred to the SS Totekopf regiment "Thüringen" as a training instructor.Concentration camp commandant Main article: Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Zeireis replaced Albert Saur as commandant of Mauthausen on February 9, 1939 by order of Theodor Eicke, Inspector of Concentration Camps. On August 25, 1939, Ziereis received a promotion to the rank of SS Sturmbannführer (SS major) and, on April 20, 1944 he received his final promotion to SS Standartenführer (SS colonel).Post-war flight and death
Ziereis fled with his wife on May 3, 1945. He attempted to hide out in his hunting lodge on the Phyrn mountain in Upper Austria. He was discovered and arrested on May 23, 1945, by an American army unit. He was shot while trying to escape and brought to a U.S. military hospital set up in Gusen I where he eventually died. His corpse was later hung on the fence of Gusen I by former prisoners of Gusen
- August 13, 1905 - May 24, 1945
(16 June 1895 Wodzis?aw ?l?ski - 10 January 1940) was a Polish insurrectionist and participant in all three of the Silesian Uprisings, prisoner in Buchenwald, and also Mauthausen. He was a distant relative of the last Polish king, Stanis?aw August Poniatowski.
He was trained as a locksmith, and up to the Second World War he worked in a coking plant in Radlin. On the 8 September 1939, the first days of the Invasion of Poland, Adamczyk received a summons to appear to police, where he was arrested and imprisoned in the basement of the building of the Commune Office in Radlin. From here he was transported to Buchenwald and then to Mauthausen.
- 16 June 1895~10 January 1940
Blessed Józef Cebula
(23 March 1902 – 9 May 1941)
Was a Polish priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI).
Born on 23 March 1902 into a modest family, he suffered tuberculosis as a youth and was declared incurable at first; but after his recovery, he went to an Oblate shrine and shared his story with Father Jan Pawolik, O.M.I. He was taught in a minor seminary from 1923 to 1931, and ordained as a priest on 5 June 1927 while still in a seminary.
Father Cebula became a superior on the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937. 2 years later, when the Germans occupied Poland, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. On 4 May 1940, the Oblate novices at Markowice were arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau in Upper Bavaria, Germany.
However, Father Cebula continued to minister as a priest in secret despite the ban on it, until he was arrested on 2 April 1941. 16 days later, he was taken to a concentration camp at Mauthausen in Austria and was harassed and forced to work hard. 3 weeks later, on 9 May, Father Cebula suddenly summoned up his strength and said, "It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you."
The Nazis ordered him to run with a rock on his back, towards the camp's barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him to death with a submachine gun and declared that Father Cebula "was shot while trying to escape". His body was taken to a crematorium and burned to ashes.
- 23 March 1902 – 9 May 1941
July 28, 1879 – August 23, 1944,Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp)
In 1908, Filipkiewicz joined the Society of Polish Artists. He became the contributing artist to the legendary Zielony Balonik art-and-literary cabaret. In 1929, Filipkiewicz was awarded the Golden Medal of the Universal Exhibition in Pozna?.
Four years later, he was also awarded by the Polish Academy of Skills for his works.
During the 1939 Invasion of Poland he fled to Hungary, where he became an active member of several underground organizations. Arrested by the Gestapo, he was sent to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp where he was murdered.
- July 28, 1879 – August 23, 1944
Garay was the Hungarian national sabre champion in 1923.European and World Championships
He also he won a team sabre gold medal at the 1930 European Championships. The European Championships were predecessor to the World Championships, first held in 1937.Olympics
He won silver medal for team saber at the 1924 Paris Olympics. He also won the bronze medal in the individual saber, winning 5 of 7 matches in the finals, including a victory over fellow Hungarian (and teammate) Zoltan Ozoray Schenker.
The Hungarian team, which included fellow International Jewish Sports Hall of Famers, Attila Petschauer and Sándor Gombos, went undefeated in the competition. They defeated the United States (14–2) and Great Britain (13–3) in the elimination round, beat Germany (12–4) and France (12–4) in the semifinals, and in the finals beat Poland (14–2) and Italy (9–7). Garay won 10 of his 12 bouts.Concentration Camp and Death
He was one of 437,000 Jews deported from Hungary after Germany occupied the country in 1944.
- February 23, 1889~ March 5, 1945
Dr. Oszkár Gerde, also spelled "Oskar"
A member of two Olympic fencing teams for Hungary, Gerde was a sabre fencer who first competed in the Olympics at the 1908 London Games in both the individual and team events. In the team competition, he won a gold medal as Hungary defeated Germany (9–0), Italy (11–5), and Bohemia (9–7). In the individual sabre, Gerde won both his first- and second-round pools to advance to the semifinals. In his semifinal pool, however, he finished in 5th place (4 contestants tied for first); he officially finished in 11th place.
Gerde returned to the Olympics 4 years later at the 1912 Stockholm Games and won another gold medal as the Hungarians took the team sabre event. In the individual sabre, Oszkar again advanced to the semifinals before being eliminated; this time, he finished 23rd overall.
After retiring from international competition, Gerde became a judge at international fencing competitions.Concentration Camp and Death
Gerde was deported from Hungary by the Nazis in 1944.
He was killed by the Nazis the same year at Mauthausen concentration camp. He was one of 119,000 prisoners who died in that camp.Hall of Fame
- July 8, 1883 – October 8, 1944
Dr. Johann Gruber
(October 20, 1889 - April 7, 1944),
Also known as "Papa Gruber" and "The Saint of Gusen", was an Austrian Roman Catholic priest who was imprisoned in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp from 1940 until his death in April 1944.
In the concentration camp, Gruber helped many others survive by raising funds from outside the camp and bribing the SS men and kapos in order to organise the delivery of food to starving inmates.
- October 20, 1889 - April 7, 1944
(June 13, 1889 – c. 1945?)
He was part of the Hungarian team, which won the silver medal in the gymnastics men's team, European system event in 1912.
He died in KZ Mauthausen.
- June 13, 1889 – c. 1945
was a Czech songwriter, actor, lyricist, film and theatre director, composer, writer, dramatist, screenwriter and cabaretier. He was murdered in the Mauthausen concentration camp
Karel Hašler in one of his roles at the National Theatre, Prague, around 1904.
Hašler studied to be a glove-maker, but he became intererested in theatre at a young age and occasionally performed with amateur theatre ensembles. In 1897, following his debut at theAréna Theatre he left home and successively joined various travelling theatre companies. In 1902 he became a member of the Slovenian theatre in Ljubljana, but soon moved back to Prague, where he joined the National Theatre ensemble. In the National Theatre, he asserted himself in conversational plays.
In addition to that, he also attempted to apply his singing abilities. Around 1908, he started composing his own music, and at the same time he began to incline to cabaret activities. Gradually he became a director and head of various Prague cabarets, such as Lucerna (1910–1915, 1918–1923), Rokoko (1915–1918) and Karlín Variety Theatre (1924–1929). In 1908, he married a sister of pianist and composer Rudolf Friml.
During World War I he also began to appear in silent films, as an actor, director and author. In 1914, he made a comedy ?eské hrady a zámky (Czech Castles), based on his own script. The film was intended as an introduction for the play Pán bez kvartýru (A Man Without Flat). He appeared also in the comedy Ahasver and in other silent films.
Among his most successful film roles were the lawyer and deputy Uher in the drama film Batalion (The Battalion, 1927) by P?emysl Pražský, and the organist in Varhaník u sv. Víta (Organist at St. Vitus Cathedral, 1929) by Martin Fri?. The coming era of the sound film in 1930s enabled Hašler to utilize his singing skills.
In his first sound film role Písni?ká? (Balladeer, 1932) by Svatopluk Innemann he sang patriotic songs Svoboda (Freedom) and Ta naše písni?ka ?eská (Our Czech song), among others. In 1942, in his last film role, he played himself in Za tichých nocí (In the Quiet Nights), made by his son Gina Hašler.
From 1932 to 1941 Hašler played in more than 13 films. In September 1941, during production of the film M?ste?ko na dlani, based on the script by Jan Drda, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. The main reason for his arrest was his patriotic songs. In Mauthausen he was tortured to death.
In 2008, Czech directors Marek Jícha and Josef Lustig made a documentary Písni?ká?, který nezem?el (The Immortal Balladeer of Prague) describing the fate of Hašler's illegitimate son Thomas Hasler.
A popular Czech medicinal candy was called “Hašlerky” after him.
- 31 October 1879~ 22 December 1941
(January 9, 1885–June 19, 1941)
In 1930, Hirsch was elected president of the high council of the Jewish Religious Community inWürttemberg. After the Machtergreifung when the Nazis seized power, he protested the Nazis' power grab and organized Jewish self-help.
Hirsch was one of the founders of the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden and was named to its board of directors; the president was Leo Baeck. Hirsch moved to Berlin to devote himself to his duties, first taking a leave of absence and later resigning as president of the Württemberg Jewish Community's high council.
He was arrested the first time by the Gestapo in 1935, but was soon released. In 1938, he represented German Jews at the international Évian Conference in France, convened at the initiative of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Returning to Berlin, he continued his protests. Shortly after Kristallnacht, Hirsch was again arrested, this time for protesting the pogrom. He was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp for two weeks and was released, after which he devoted himself to helping Jews to emigrate.
In July 1939, the security police named Hirsch, Baeck and others to the board of the newly formed Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland, with which the Reichsvertretung was forced to merge. On February 16, 1941, Hirsch was again arrested, this time without explanation. On May 23, he was sent to Mauthausen and according to Nazi records, Hirsch died on June 19, 1945. The exact circumstances surrounding his death remain unknown.
At the opening of the Stuttgart port on March 31, 1958, the city of Stuttgart named a bridge after Otto Hirsch. On January 9, 1985, a memorial to Hirsch was unveiled on the bridge. Since 1985, a medal in Hirsch's name is awarded annually by the city, along with a judeo-christian organization and the Jewish Religious Community. The medal is awarded to people who have devoted themselves to cooperative work between Christians and Jews.
- January 9, 1885–June 19, 1941
Arne Jostein Ingebrethsen~Victim
Arne Jostein Ingebrethsen
(9 July 1903 – 7 January 1945)
Was a Norwegian newspaper editor who was killed during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany.
His father Ingolf Ingebrethsen was a long-time editor of the newspaper Flekkefjordsposten. After the German invasion of Norway, the newspaper showed an uncooperative attitude towards the authorities. For an article printed on 1 August 1940, Arne Jostein Ingebrethsen was arrested and was incarcerated at Møllergata 19 from 12 August to 14 October 1940.
His father backed down as editor, and Ingebrethsen served as editor from 1941 to 1943. He was arrested again in 1943, and was imprisoned at Møllergata 19 from 14 July to 6 August, and then in Grini concentration camp until 13 November. He was then shipped to concentration camps on the European continent. He spent time in Natzweiler-Struthof, Mauthausen and Melk, and died here in January 1945. Two of his brothers succeeded him as editor.
- 9 July 1903 – 7 January 1945
Dmitry Mikhaylovich Karbyshev
Dmitry Mikhaylovich Karbyshev (Russian: ??????? ?????????? ????????)
Karbyshev was born in Omsk , where his father was a military officer. His father died when he was twelve, and he was raised by his mother. Despite financial difficulties, he graduated from the Siberian Cadet Corps in 1898 and went on to attend the Nykolaiv Petersburg Military Engineering Academy (present-day Saint Petersburg Military Engineering-Technical University (Nikolaevsky), from which he graduated in 1900. He was assigned to serve in the 1st East Siberian Sapper Battalion, in charge of battlefield telegraph operations, and was stationed in Manchuria.Russo-Japanese War and World War I
During the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905), Karbyshev was responsible in building bridges, and conducting reconnaissance patrols, as well as telegraph operations. He was at the Battle of Mukden and was decorated for bravery. He was promoted to lieutenant at the end of the war.
Karbyshev subsequently served in Vladivostok. He returned to St. Petersburg to graduate from the Nikolaev Military Engineering Academy in 1911. Promoted to captain, he was then sent to Brest-Litovsk as commander of a military engineering company, and participated in the construction of the Brest Fortress.
At the start of World War I, Karbyshev was involved in combat operations in the Carpathians under General Aleksei Brusilov’s 8th Army on the Southwestern Front. In early 1915, he was at the Siege of Przemy?l, where he was wounded in the leg. He was decorated with the Order of St. Anne for bravery. In 1916, he participated in the Brusilov Offensive. However, with the February Revolutionand the collapse of the Russian Empire, Karbyshev joined the Red Guard in December 1917 while stationed at Mohyliv-Podilskyi. From 1918, he was an officer in the Bolshevik Red Army.Career in the Red Army
During the Russian Civil War, Karbyshev oversaw the construction of numerous fortifications, and held senior positions at the headquarters of the North Caucasus Military District. In 1920, he was chief engineer of the Soviet 5th Army and supervised sapper assaults on White movement fortifications in the Crimea.
From 1923-1926, Karbyshev was chairman of the Engineering Committee of the Main Military Engineering Management (WPRA) of the Red Army. From 1926, he became an instructor at theFrunze Military Academy, and from 1936 he joined the General Staff Academy. In 1941 he earned a degree of the Doctor of Military Sciences. He was awarded the academic title of professor in 1938, and the military rank of lieutenant general in the Corps of Engineers in 1940, followed by a doctorate in military sciences in 1941.
He published over 100 scientific papers on military engineering and military history. His speciality was in the construction and destruction of barriers, and on the issues involved in forcing rivers and other water hazards. His articles and manuals on the theory of engineering and battlefield operations and tactics were required reading for the commanders of the Red Army in the prewar years. He was also a consultant for the restoration of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius outside of Moscow.
With the start of World War II, Karbyshev was assigned to the Soviet 3rd Army and Grodno, followed by the headquarters of the Soviet 10th Army, which was encircled and destroyed during the Battle of Bia?ystok–Minsk. In August 1941, Karbyshev was serious wounded in combat at the Dnieper River in what is now the Mogilev Region in Belarus, and was captured by the Nazis.
Karbyshev was held at a succession of concentration camps, including Hammelburg , Flossenburg , Majdanek , Auschwitz , Sachsenhausenand Mauthausen. Refusing repeated offers from the Nazis to solicit his cooperation, and despite his advanced age, he was one of the most active leaders of the camp resistance movement. On the night of February 17, 1945, he was one of 500 prisoners doused with cold water and left to expire in the frost. He was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on August 16, 1946.
The Soviet Union issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1961 and in 1980. There are also streets in numerous cities in the former Soviet Union named after Karbyshev.
- Order of St Vladimir, 4th degree (Russian Empire)
- Order of St. Anne 4th degree (Russian Empire)
- Order of St. Anne 3rd degree (Russian Empire)
- Order of St. Stanislaus 3rd degree with swords (Russian Empire)
- Order of St. Stanislaus 2nd degree (Russian Empire)
- Order of Lenin (Soviet Union)
- Order of the Red Banner (Soviet Union)
- Order of the Red Star (Soviet Union)
- Order of the Red Banner (Soviet Union)
- "Gold Star" Hero of the Soviet Union (16 August 1946, posthumous; Soviet Union)
- October 26 . 1880~ February 18, 1945,
Anna ?alounová-Letenská (née Anna Svobodová) ~Victim
Anna ?alounová-Letenská (née Anna Svobodová)
(29 August 1904 – 24 October 1942)
Anna Letenská was born in Ný?any, Plze? Region, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. She was brought up in a theatrical environment - both of her parents, Marie Svobodová (1871–1960) and Old?ich Svoboda (died 1939), and her sister, R?žena Nováková (1899-1984), were actors. She made her first appearance on stage at an early age.
Letenská began her professional stage career in 1919 as a member of the Suková-Kramulová theatre company and went on to work with theatre companies in ?eské Bud?jovice (1920-29),Olomouc (1930-31), Bratislava (1931-35), and Kladno (1935-36). While working with the theatre company of Otto Alfredi she met and befriended the operetta actor Ludvík Hrdli?ka, who performed under the stage name "Letenský".
She married him in January 1925 and the following year she bore him a son named Ji?í. However, the marriage was not a happy one and they divorced in 1940. They had previously moved to Prague in 1936 where after a series of short-term engagements Letenská found employment with the Vinohrady Theatre (1939-42). She performed in Czech and world theatre repertoire and was known for her comic performances in the role of down-to-earth, energetic women characters.
Letenská's film debut was in K?íž u potoka (1937). In her next film, Manželka n?co tuší (1938), she appeared alongside her husband. She was able to exploit her talent for comedy in the film Milování zakázáno, which is regarded as the starting-point of her successful film career. Her career in the cinema was more varied than her theatre career, with appearances in minor and major roles as maidservants, concierges, aunties, wives and mothers. However it was a short one, lasting only from 1937 to 1942. This was the period of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the start of World War II in Europe.World War II
On 27 May 1942, in an action known as Operation Anthropoid, two Czechoslovak parachutists, Jozef Gab?ík and Jan Kubiš, ambushed and fatally wounded Reinhard Heydrich, Deputy Reich-Protector of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, while he was being driven through the Prague suburb of Libe?. The Nazis embarked on a large-scale operation to find and capture the assassins.
They searched the whole of Bohemia and Moravia, carrying out checks of over 4 750 000 inhabitants and combing 60 large forest areas. One of the assassins, Kubiš, had been wounded in the face by a fragment of the bomb thrown at Heydrich's car. He escaped and was helped by MUDr. B?etislav Ly?ka, who lived in the Karlín district of Prague. After Karel ?urda's betrayal of his Resistance colleagues and friends, Ly?ka and his wife Františka Ly?ková were forced to split up and find separate places to hide.
At the time Anna Letenská was working on the film P?ijdu hned, directed by Otakar Vávra. In 1941, she had married the architect Vladislav ?aloun. Prior to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, ?aloun had been involved in helping people persecuted by Hlinka's Slovak People's Party. His activities came to the notice of the party's extremist supporters and he was expelled from Slovakia in 1939.
In Prague, ?aloun continued working to help people threatened by the Nazi régime leave the country. He and his new wife became friends with the Ly?kas. Both ?aloun and Dr. Ly?ka were members of the illegal organisation called Jindra and were closely connected with the group helping Heydrich's assassins. According to the original version of events, Letenská gave shelter to Františka Ly?ková.
However, according to the subsequent account given by the Czech actor Svatopluk Beneš, Letenská told him a different version of the story. She had gone to a wine bar with her second husband where they met a man who introduced himself as a friend of ?aloun's brother and asked if they could give him a bed for one night. According to Beneš, the man was apparently Doctor Ly?ka.
Despite being helped by Letenská and her husband, Ly?ková was soon arrested by the Gestapo. After being subjected to a brutal interrogation, she revealed the secret identity and whereabouts of her husband. Ly?ka committed suicide in a cellar in Oub?nice, shortly before his arrest.
Letenská came under suspicion of helping the assassins. Surprisingly, only her husband was arrested and Letenská was allowed to remain at large. Allegedly this was because she was one of the stars of the still unfinished movie P?ijdu hned. Miloš Havel (uncle of the former Czech President Václav Havel), an influential producer at the Barrandov Studios, is said to have intervened to prevent her arrest so that the film could be completed. Havel was the owner of Lucernafilm, producers of the film.
Letenská remained under Gestapo surveillance while filming continued. According to Otakar Vávra, the film's director, "throughout this time Anna Letenská would sit with her head held between her hands although she appeared as cheerful as could be in front of the camera. We understood that she was preparing herself to die". While production continued, Letenská frequently sent food and clothes to her arrested husband.Imprisonment and death Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Once production of the film had been completed, Letenská was arrested and imprisoned. Accounts of her last days in Prague differ. Her colleague, the actor Antonín Strnad, said that Letenská was arrested and then shortly after that she was released very briefly, only so that she could terminate her contract of employment at the Vinohrady Theatre. Strnad met her in the theatre, in tears.
Another actor, František Filipovský, claimed that he was probably the last person who talked to her. He met her in a tram at Wenceslas Square and asked: "Where are you going, Anka?" She replied: "Ah, they summoned me to an interrogation at Gestapo, again. What could they ask me?" Then she got out of the tram and vanished into the crowd. "I never saw her again", Filipovský said. The final version tells how Letenská was arrested by the German interrogator Heinz Jantur on 3 September, 1942.
She dropped a little talisman as she was getting into a Gestapo car. It was a picture of a Czech landscape. The German officers allowed her to pick it up, Letenská kissed the picture, got into the car and disappeared forever. According to Strnad, she gave the talisman to her cellmates shortly before her execution. She asked them, if they survived, to give it to the actors at the theatre. One of the camp inmates is said to have brought the picture to the theatre after the war.
Letenská was briefly imprisoned in Pankrác Prison before being taken to Theresienstadt concentration camp on 5 October, 1942. On 23 October, she was transported to Mauthausenalong with a group of 135 women and girls referred to as "the parachutists" (they were relatives of Heydrich's assassins or otherwise linked to the assassination). On arrival in the camp they were taken to the camp bathrooms where they were handed over to the mercies of privileged criminal inmates.
The next day they were taken to a "consulting room" in the camp for a medical examination. The consulting room, located in a building referred to as "the bunker", was in fact an execution chamber (in German: Genickschuss) masquerading as a medical facility. The women were brought to the room one by one for their supposed examination and then shot there at two minute intervals. Anna Letenská was shot in the head in the bunker at 10:56 on 24 October 1942. Her name and the date of her execution were carefully recorded by German officials. Letenská's husband Vladislav ?aloun was shot on 26 January 1943, at 16:45.
The film was premiered two months after her death.
The novel Kat nepo?ká (The Hangman Won't Wait, 1958) by Norbert Frýd was inspired by Anna Letenská's life story. A film adaptation of the novel was made in 1971 starring Ji?ina Bohdalová. A street in the Vinohrady district of Prague is named after Anna Letenská.
- 29 August 1904 – 24 October 1942
German Empire (1889 to 1919)
After attending elementary school in St. Georgen near Freiburg im Breisgau in the years 1897 to 1904, Stefan Meier was working one year as a farm worker. From July 1905 to December 1908, he took a commercial apprenticeship. In 1906, he joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). From October 1909 to September 1910 Meier was in the military. Then he worked until the First World War in various companies as executive assistant and clerk. Meier fought in the war from August 1914 to November 1918. In July 1915, during the war he became engaged with Emma Hofheinz. The marriage produced a daughter, Margret and sons Huber and Richard.Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933)
The first political offices which Meier took were in local politics. From May 1919 up until October 1927, he was a city councilor in Freiburg. He also held the post of party secretary of the SPD for the district of Freiburg. In 1922, Meier was a self-employed businessperson.
In December 1924, Meier was elected to the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. During the next four legislative sessions (December 1924-November 1932), he represented the 32nd constituency. After his temporary departure from the Reichstag in the election of November 1932, Meier returned in the election of March 1933 to the Berlin parliament, where he saw the final loss of his mandate in June of that year.Nazi era (1933 to 1944)
In March 1933, Meier was one of 94 MPs who voted against the adoption of the Enabling Act, which formed the legal basis for the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship and was finally passed by a majority of 444 to 94 votes.
From March 1933 to March 1934, Stefan Meier was held captive in "protective custody" at the concentration camp Ankenbuck. After his release, Meier was proprietor of a tobacco shop in Freiburg. In 1939, he served as a driver for the motorized police. In October 1941, Stefan Meier, after denunciation by a neighbor, was arrested again and sentenced by a Special Court of Freiburg Regional Court for undermining military strength or "conspiracy to commit high treason" to three years in prison.
Immediately after the completion of his prison term, Stefan Meier was transferred to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he died in September 1944. The noted cause of death was "acute heart failure". Before his arrest, Stefan Meier did not have a history of heart problems.Honors and awards Stumbling Stone of Stefan Meier in Freiburg Im Breisgau
Memorials for Stefan Meier are today found near his former home in the city Freiburg. Freiburg renamed named the Bismarck Street in honor of Stefan Meier as Stefan-Meier-Strasse (or Stefan Meier Street). In 1989, the city of Freiburg commemorated Meier’s 100th Birthday with an event in the historic council chamber of the Freiburg City Hall. Since 1992, one of the ninety-six Stolpersteine (or Stumbling Stones), which are memorial stones placed in the street in front of the homes of members of parliament murdered by the Nazis, was dedicated to Meier.
- November 6, 1889 ~19 September 1944
Witold Dzier?ykraj-Morawski was born in 1895 in his family's manor in Oporów near Krummensee, Province of Posen, German Empire. At the age of 15 he inherited the manor and the surrounding village. As aGerman citizen, after the outbreak of the Great War he was drafted into the Imperial German army. Promoted to officer's grade, in December 1918 he joined the newly-reborn Polish Army. A field commander during the Greater Poland Uprising, during the Polish-Bolshevik War he became the chief of staff of thePolish 7th Cavalry Brigade.
Between 1923 and 1926 he served as the military attaché in the Polish embassy in Bucharest. Upon his return he briefly served as one of the commanding officers of the Pru?ana-based Polish 17th Uhlans Regiment. In 1928 he resumed his post as a military attaché, this time in Berlin. He held that post until 1932. Until 1937 he was the commanding officer of the Polish 25th Uhlans Regiment and one of the staff officers of the Lwów-based Army Inspectorate. During the Polish mobilization prior to the outbreak of thePolish Defensive War he became the chief of staff of the Karpaty Army. During the campaign he also held the same rank within the Ma?opolska Army.
Taken prisoner of war by the Germans, he spent the remainder of World War II in various German POW camps, including Oflag VII-C inLaufen, Oflag XI-B in Brunswick, Oflag II-C in Woldenberg and Oflag II-B in Arnswalde. Transferred to the Oflag II-D in Gross-Born, he was the highest ranking officer there and the informal commander of all the allied prisoners held there. He also became the lead organizer of an underground organization there, intending to prepare an escape of the prisoners. Handed over to the Gestapo, he was imprisoned in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, where he died.
In 1964 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of genera? brygady.
He joined the army, receiving a commission in the Durham Light Infantry in 1940 and was subsequently recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE). In November 1942, he was sent into France to join the newly formed Prosper network, but on June 24, 1943 was arrested by the Gestapo, together with cell leader Francis Suttill and courier Andrée Borrel.
Norman was taken to the Paris headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst at 84 Avenue Foch. The Germans used Norman's captured wireless set to transmit their own false messages to SOE Headquarters in Baker Street.
Norman attempted to warn London that he was in captivity by not giving the Germans the second part of his security check, which they did not know about, but was frustrated when London sent a curt reply telling him to correct the omission.
The Germans were thus able to set a trap which resulted in the capture of Jack Agazarian who had been sent with Nicholas Bodington to investigate the fate of the Prosper network. Norman was shipped to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was executed on September 6, 1944.
Major Gilbert Norman is honored on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey, England and as also on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departément of France.
- 1914~September 6, 1944
Alfred Gottfried Ochshorn~Victim
Gottfried Ochshorn (April 6, 1915 – October 23 (or 20), 1943)
After being betrayed by an informant, he was arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. He died after being shot by a guard, Martin Bartesch, during an escape attempt.
- (April 6, 1915 – October 23 (or 20), 1943
(25 May 1877 - 17 September 1942)
Jean Origer was interned in the concentration camp Mauthausen where he died. A street in his hometown of Esch-Alzette is named after him.
- (25 May 1877 - 17 September 1942
Wiktor Ormicki (born Wiktor Rudolf Nusbaum, 1898–1941)
Was a Polish geographer and cartographer, a university professor.
Giuseppe Pagano (1896 – April 22, 1945)
Giuseppe Pogatschnig was born in Parenzo (Pore?, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now part of Croatia). After attending the Italian language Lyceum in Trieste, he fled to join the Italian army at the onset of the First World War, adopting the Italian translation of his name, Pagano. He was twice wounded and twice captured. In the years immediately following the war, Pagano was associated with Nationalist and pre-Fascist politics, and would be among the founders of the first fascist party of his hometown of Parenzo.
In 1924, Pagano graduated from the Politecnico of Turin, with a degree in architecture. In the late 1920s, he started designing his first buildings, including the Gualino office building in Turin (1928), and working on exhibitions in Turin and soon in Milan. In 1931, he moved to Milan to work for the architecture magazine La Casa Bella.
From the late 1920s, Pagano had adopted a rationalist position, influenced by Futurism and the European avant-gardes. He had a significant career as a writer and defender of rationalist architecture in the press, especially Casabella, whose name he soon changed from La Casa Bella when he became director of the magazine in 1933 along with Edoardo Persico.
He was involved in the V Triennale of Milan in 1933, in which he collaborated in the design of the House with a Steel Structure, the 1934 Aeronautics Show, which he was responsible for designing, and the VI Triennale of 1936, which he directed together with the painter Mario Sironi.
All three expositions were held in architect Giovanni Muzio's Palazzo dell'Arte in the Parco Sempione, which had been built for the V Triennale, the first held in Milan. He was also an accomplished photographer and he often published his own photographs in Casabella using them to strengthen his critiques of the architecture of the time.
Though initially an active member of the Italian Fascist party, from the mid-1930s, Pagano's architectural philosophy led him farther and farther from the official architects of the Fascist regime, such that his VI Triennale, in effect, proposed an alternate architectural expression for Fascism.
Pagano opposed the monumental "representative architecture" of the rationalists of the Gruppo 7; but especially in 1931 with the latter group attempting to identify their architecture with Italian Fascism, and to make it the official state architecture. In 1937 we worked closely with regime architect Marcello Piacentini on the interiors of the Italian Pavilion for the Paris International Expo and also worked on the master plan for the ill-fated Rome Expo of 1942, that was never held.
Pagano's position in the Fascist party and prestige among architects, as well as the diversity of cultural production under Benito Mussolini's Fascism, allowed him to openly criticize some of the regime's constructions as "bombastically rhetorical", from the pages of Casabella. In 1942, Pagano would leave the Scuola di Mistica and the Fascist Party.
In 1943 he made contacts with members of the resistance, was captured in November 1943 and imprisoned at Brescia, from where he escaped in July 1944. He was recaptured in September 1944 in Milan, imprisoned at Villa Triste, and tortured. Later he was transferred to the prison of San Vittore, then to Bolzano and then to Mauthausen, Melk, and back again to Mauthausen.
Pagano died at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria on 22 April 1945.
- (1896 – April 22, 1945
(February 15, 1896 – February 3, 1944)
In 1920 he was a member of the Czechoslovak gymnastic team which finished fourth in the team event.
- February 15, 1896 – February 3, 1944
(28 September 1887 - 9 December 1944)
Pirjevec was born in a Slovene-speaking family in Gorizia, a town in the Austrian Littoral (now part of Italy). He studied Slavic philology at the University of Vienna. He graduated in 1913 with a thesis on Fran Levstik.
During World War I he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army. After thedemobilization in 1917, he taught Slovene and German language at a Slovene-language high school in Trieste. In 1920, he was fired by the new Italian authorities in the Julian March. In 1921, he moved to Ljubljana, in what was then the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and became the chief librarian of the National Research Library. Between 1925 and 1927 he shortly worked at the Library of the National Museum.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Pirjevec published several treatises on Slovene literature in the 19th century, especially the Romantic circle of France Prešeren and Matija ?op. Together with Ivan Prijatelj and France Kidri?, Pirjevec was the main exponent of the positivist group of Slovenian literary historians of the interwar period. He was also important as a theoretician librarian: he published numerous articles and monographs on the function and organization of libraries and library systems in modern societies.
During the interwar period, Pirjevec maintained a position of a progressive and national national liberal intellectual. He was critical of the dictatorship of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and supported the idea of an autonomous United Slovenia within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
During World War II, his son Dušan Pirjevec became an important resistance leader of the Yugoslav partisans in Slovenia; his daughter Ivica Pirjevec was active in the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and was killed by the Nazis in 1944. Because of the anti-Fascist activities of his children, Pirjevec was arrested by the Nazi authorities of the Province of Ljubljana and sent to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in autumn 1943. He died there in December 1944.
After the war, a bust of Pirjevec was erected in the main entrance hall of the National and University Library of Slovenia.
- 28 September 1887 - 9 December 1944
Kazimierz Prószy?ski~Victim # 129957
Kazimierz Prószy?ski (pronounce: Casimir Prooshinsky)
(4 April 1875 - 13 March 1945)
Was a Polish inventor active in the field of cinema. He patented his first film camera, called Pleograph (in Polish spelling: Pleograf), before the Lumière brothers, and later went on to improve the cinema projector for the Gaumont company, as well as invent the widely used hand-held Aeroscope camera.
Prószy?ski was educated in Poland and Belgium, active in Belgium, France, England, United States and Poland. He was the grandson of the photographer Stanis?aw Antoni Prószy?ski, who had been accused by Russians of placing patriotic symbols in the background of the photographs made in his atelier and was sentenced for that by the Tsarist Russia authorities. He was also the son of Konrad Prószy?ski, an active Polish educator, writer and publisher.
In 1894, Kazimierz Prószy?ski built one of the first movie cameras. This Pleograph, or apparatus for taking photographs and projecting pictures, was built before the Lumière brothers lodged their patent. Prószy?ski also produced several films in Poland at the beginning of the 20th century as well as creating an improved film projector shutter, the first hand held film-camera and devised a method of synchronizing sound and film tracks.
Kazimierz Prószy?ski spent a large part of his active life abroad. At the beginning of the 20th century, he was active in France and England as an inventor and producer of the Aeroscope (1909) camera, powered by compressed air. Filming with Aeroscope the cameraman did not have to turn the crank, as in all cameras of that time, so he had both hands on the camera to operate.
This made it possible to film with a hand-held camera in most difficult circumstances and from airplanes. Compressed air was pumped into the camera system, before filming, with a simple special pump similar to the ones still used to pump bicycle tires.
Hundreds of light and relatively compact Aeroscope cameras were used by British Army combat cameramen on the battlefields of World War I and later by newsreel cameramen until the late 1920s, when more modern spring cameras like Eyemo and later Bolex took over. Still, there are archival photographs of Aeroscope cameras being pumped by British combat cameramen as late as in 1940, at the beginning of World War II.
As soon as Poland regained its independence in November 1918, Prószy?ski returned with his English wife, Dorothy, and children Kazimierz junior and Irena. From the start it was difficult to find business partners for his invention.
In 1922, he managed to establish a company Oko (Polish for: eye) to promote a simple amateur camera of his construction with the same name, which Prószy?ski intended to mass produce for schools and the public. The economic crisis of the 1920s interrupted Kazimierz Prószy?ski's plans. He was busy with other inventions, such as simple home film projectors and reading machines for the blind, but did not manage to mass produce any of them.
During World War II and the German occupation of Poland, German Gestapo police discovered his workshop. They arrested Prószy?ski and his co-worker under the accusation of conspiracy. Released after 10 days, Prószy?ski did not manage to remove all suspicion. He was chased by Gestapo and had to move often to avoid arrest. Finally on 25 August 1944, during the Warsaw uprising, he was arrested.
Kazimierz Prószy?ski is regarded along with Boles?aw Matuszewski as one of the most important pioneers of Polish Cinema.
- 4 April 1875 - 13 March 1945
Henryk S?awik, born 16 July 1894 in Szeroka (now a part of Jastrz?bie-Zdrój, then in the Prussian zone of partitioned Poland), was executed by Nazi Germans in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp on 26 August 1944.
S?awik was a Polish politician in the interwar period,social worker, activist, and diplomat, who during World War II helped save over 5,000 Polish as well as Hungarian Jews in Budapest by giving them false Polish passports with Catholicdesignation.
Henryk S?awik was born into an impoverished Polish Silesian family as one of its 9 children. He was sent by his mother to an academic secondary school. After graduation, S?awik left his hometown for Pszczyna where he was drafted to the army during World War I. Released from internment in 1918, he joined the Polish Socialist Party in Upper Silesia and went to Warsaw for additional training. He took active part in the Silesian Plebiscite as one of its organizers and began working as a journalist for Gazeta Robotnicza. A year later, he became its Editor-in-chief.
In 1922 S?awik was elected president of the Regional Chapter of the Worker's Youth Association "Si?a" and took part in setting up Worker's Universities. In 1928 he married a Varsovian, Jadwiga Purzycka, and in 1929 was chosen as councillor for Katowice City Hall on PPS platform. He was an ardent opponent of Sanacja. Between 1934 and 1939 S?awik served as president of Polish Journalist Association for Upper and Lower Silesia (Syndykat Dziennikarzy Polskich ?l?ska i Zag??bia).World War II
At the outbreak of the German invasion of Poland in 1939 S?awik joined the Polish mobilised police battalion attached to the Kraków Army. He fought with distinction during the retreat along the northern Carpathians. His battalion was attached to the 2nd Mountain Brigade, with which he defended mountain passes leading to Slovakia.
On September 15 S?awik and his men were ordered to retreat towards the newly established border with Hungary. On September 17, after the Soviet Union joined the war against Poland, S?awik crossed the border and was interned as a prisoner of war camp. In Silesia, his name appeared on the Nazi German list of the "enemies of the state" (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen).
S?awik was spotted in the PoW camp near Miszkolce by József Antall (Senior), a member of the Hungarian ministry of internal affairs responsible for the civilian refugees and the father of the future prime minister József Antall (Junior). Thanks to his fluent knowledge of German, S?awik was brought to Budapest and allowed to create the Citizen's Committee for Help for Polish Refugees (Komitet Obywatelski ds. Opieki nad Polskimi Uchod?cami).
Together with József Antall he organised jobs for the POWs and displaced persons, schools and orphanages. He also clandestinely organised an organisation whose purpose was to help the exiled Poles leave the camps of internment and travel to France or the Middle East to join the Polish Army. S?awik also became a delegate of the Polish Government in Exile.The Polish Wallenberg
After the Hungarian government issued racial decrees and separated Polish refugees of Jewish descent from their colleagues, S?awik started to issue false documents confirming their Polish roots and Roman Catholic faith.
He also helped several hundred Polish Jews to reachYugoslav partisans. One of his initiatives was the creation of an orphanage for Jewish children (officially named School for Children of Polish Officers) in Vác. To help disguise the true nature of the orphanage, the children were visited by Catholic Church authorities, most notably by nuncio Angelo Rotta.
After the Nazis took over Hungary in March 1944, S?awik went underground and ordered as many of the refugees as were under his command to leave Hungary. Because he had appointed a new commanding officer of the camp for Polish Jews, all of them were able to escape and leave Hungary.
The Jewish children of the orphanage in Vác were also evacuated. S?awik was arrested by the Germans on March 19, 1944. Although brutally tortured, he did not inform on his Hungarian colleagues. He was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp where he was shot to death, probably in August 1944. His wife survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp and after the war found their daughter hidden in Hungary by the Antall family. S?awik's place of burial remains unknown.
It is estimated that Henryk S?awik helped as many as 30,000 Polish refugees in Hungary, approximately 5,000 of them Jews. After 1948, thecommunist authorities of both Poland and Hungary did commemorate his deeds and pointed out his importance for humanity. According to Maria Zawadzka of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews,
Henryk S?awik was posthumously awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem Commemorative Authority already on 26 January 1977, but achieved wide recognition only after Zvi Henryk Zimmerman, his wartime associate and a distinguished Israeli politician, popularized his efforts in the 1990s.
- 16 July 1894~26 August 1944
Karol ?liwka (Polish pronunciation: [?kar?l ??lifka];
13 March 1894 in Byst?ice - 19 March 1943 in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp) was a Polish communist politician from Zaolzie region in the First Czechoslovak Republic. ?liwka was one of the most prominent political leaders of the Polish minority in Zaolzie and a member of National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic from 1925 to 1938.
After outbreak of World War I he volunteered to army of General Józef Haller but after several months became a prisoner of war in Russia from 1915 to 1918 (mostly in Kaluga). In 1917 he joined the Bolshevik Party. In 1921 he became an Executive Committee member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He was the editor of the newspaper G?os Robotniczy ('Workers Voice'). ?liwka was the foremost leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia within the Polish minority. He was an advocate of unity between Polish, Czech and German communists in ?eský T?šín.
?liwka represented the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in the Czechoslovak National Assembly between 1925-1938. As a parliamentarian, ?liwka fought for the rights of the Polish minority in the Czechoslovak Republic.
Following the cession of Zaolzie territory to Poland, ?liwka and another Polish parliamentarian Leon Wolf, leader of the League of Silesian Catholics, lost their parliamentary seats on 30 October 1938. Other parliamentarians representing national minorities suffered a similar fate. Polish authorities adopted strict measures against communist activists. ?liwka and another activist Franciszek Kraus have been jailed in Mokotów Prison in Warsaw. He was released after he signed a testimony saying he is breaking up with communist movement.
As a result, he was expelled from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In April 1940 he was arrested by Gestapo and jailed in Moravská Ostrava and later in other towns. In 1942 he was sentenced for five years in prison, which he served in Cieszyn. ?liwka was eventually transferred to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, where he officially died in March 1943. After World War II he was dishonoured in Czechoslovakia for alleged betrayal of communist ideals in 1938. He was exonerated in 1969.
- 13 March 1894~19 March 1943
Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal~Victim
Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal
(1885-1945) was one of the few European rabbis to break ranks with Ashkenazi Orthodox Judaism to support an active effort to settle the land of Israel. He was murdered on a transport train during the closing days of World War II.
Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal was born in Hungary in 1885 from a family of well-known rabbis and Jewish leaders. His parents were Gittel and Yitzchak Teichtal. His father was a scholar, teacher, and a chasid of the Rebbe of Sanz. At thirteen years of age, Teichtal began his yeshiva study under Rabbi Shalom Weider who was the av beit din (town rabbi) of Nyrdhaa, Hungary. At age fifteen he moved to Gavne, Poland, where he was a student of Rabbi Shalom Unger.
Teichtal returned to Hungary and at the age of twenty-one he received rabbinic ordination (semichah) from the Rebbe of Talisheva. He received another ordination a year later from Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg and a third ordination the same year from Rabbi Mordechai Leib Winkler. Teichtal first married when he was 19 years of age to Freidl Ginz. When Freidl died at a young age, he married Nechamah Friedman.
Czechoslovakia was invaded in 1938 while Teichtal was still residing in Pishtian. As the Nazi oppression increased he found himself along with ten other family members in hiding at the local beit midrash (house of learning). From his hiding place he witnessed many atrocities including the mass deportation of friends and neighbors.
The Chief Rabbi of Slovakia in Nitra sent messengers offering refuge for Teichtal and his family. In the month of Elul 1942, he and his family escaped into Hungary to go into hiding in Nitra. After much wandering he finally ended up in Budapest where he remained for nearly two years. In Budapest he completed his seminal work, Eim HaBanim Semeichah after working on it for a little more than one year.
In 1944 Hungary was invaded by the Nazis. Thinking that Slovakia might be safe, the Teichtal family returned there to wait out the end of the war. At the time the Nazis stepped up their efforts to find remaining Jews. Teichtal and his family were captured and transported toAuschwitz.Death
As the Soviet army advanced through Poland, in January 1945, the inmates of Auschwitz, including Teichtal and his family, were transported deeper into Germany. Teichtal died in a train on his way to the Mauthausen concentration camp on the 10th of Shevat, 5705 (January 24, 1945). The following quotation is from an account of his father’s death on a train transport related by Rabbi Chayim Menachem Teichtal:
After starving their victims for a number of days, the oppressors tossed each of them a meager crust of bread, with the evil intent of having them fight pathetically for their paltry allotment. Indeed, one of the Ukrainians grabbed the portion of a Jew – my father’s neighbor - who was desperate for this crust of bread. This angered my father, who demanded the return of the theft. The other travelers begged my father not to get involved, since it might cost him his life. But he said “How can I stand by when the wronged man’s life depends on this food?” Indeed he insisted on taking a stand, and the Ukrainians, with the cooperation of the Nazi soldiers, rose against him and killed him, after torturing him mercilessly.
Tayerlé was arrested shortly after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. He died in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
- 1877, 1942