Unfit for Labor in Auschwitz
"Since I now was no longer fit to work, I feared that I would be gassed. It had become general knowledge that all those unfit for work were gassed."
This is from the statement by witness Rajzla Sadowska (p. 657), who thus follows the usual claims. Auschwitz inmate Mrs. Sadowska had been injured during a working accident, but instead of being gassed after she had been picked out during the selection that followed her accident, she was transferred to the sick-bay of the camp, where she was nursed back to health. After seven days she was subjected to another selection, this time by the notorious Dr. Mengele. She claims that Dr. Mengele subsequently subjected her to various rather painful experiments. Even though she claims to have been a human wreck after this – there is no trace in the investigation files about a forensic examination of the traces these alleged medical experiments must have left – and although she claims that she was utterly unfit for any labor after this, she again was not only not gassed, but once more nursed back to health (p. 684). Despite these gruesome experiences by Germans in Germany, Mrs. Sadowska preferred to settle in Germany after the war, because she could not cope with the climate in Israel (p. 676).
Another selection that Mrs. Sadowska claims to have witnessed right after her admission to the camp fits into the same scheme: Mrs. Sadowska and all the other inmates deported with her to Auschwitz were kept for three months in quarantine. After this effort was made by the SS to make sure they carried no infectious diseases, but were of good health, all women unfit for labor were selected out, relocated to other inmate huts and later loaded on trucks and driven away, at which time those women are supposed to have sung a "final song". From this and from the fact that she did not see these women anymore thereafter, Mrs. Sadowska concluded that these women had been killed (p. 678f.). However, if the SS really intended to kill those unfit for labor, they would have spared themselves the effort of feeding them through three months of quarantine.
Similarly paradoxical is the account by witness Hugo Breiden, who claimed during his second interrogation that an eleven year old boy – who despite his young age was apparently not gassed on arrival in the camp, contrary to the generally held view – was nursed back to health after he contracted a dangerous typhus infection, only to be selected afterwards, allegedly in order to be killed with a lethal injection (p. 701).
Hugo Breiden, Second Installment
The credibility of this witness can be assessed by considering what he claimed during his second interrogation: because of a derogatory remark about the Western Wall – Germany's defence structure in the West prior to WWII – he claims to have been arrested and thrown into a concentration camp. He thus claimed to have been a political prisoner, although the files of the German prosecution clearly show that Breiden had committed an uninterrupted series of crimes since 1928, his last prison term of 18 months resulting from criminal pimping. Whereas he gave the impression, during his first interrogation, to know from his own experience, which activities the inmate Jakob performed during the shooting of inmates at the infamous "Black Wall," during his second interrogation he stated this:
"I cannot describe his activities. But the stories had it [...]." (p. 695)
Thus, knowledge and hearsay are mixed. What, then, is to be thought of Breiden's story that an SS man had forced an inmate
"to climb on a high fir tree. His two sons subsequently had to saw down the tree, so that the father fell down with it." (p. 698)
This is truly a time-consuming, material-wasting way of killing somebody. In such a manner the SS would still be working today to carry out their "duty" of killing six million by slowly de-foresting the forests of Europe; time and material to wage a war and produce weapons would not have been left over either ...
Or how about the radio singer from Sofia, who, according to Breiden, was forced to go swimming in a pond, where her breasts were torn to pieces by a dog (as if swimming dogs could do such a thing), followed by a stone-throwing SS man, who finally managed to sink the lady (p. 689f.). Such stories are called "Holo porn."
Rögner and his Friend
Sheets 703 to 732 of the files contain the protocol of another interrogation of the witness Adolf Rögner, who I characterized earlier as the "greatest liar in all the land." In this interrogation Rögner listed more than 50 alleged crimes that he claims to have witnessed himself and about which he claims to be able to testify in detail. I'll spare myself and the reader the time to analyze the web of lies told by this congenital liar, but I must state that it is not the witness Rögner who is the primary problem here; the much greater problem lies with the German prosecutors (collectively the German "Nazi hunter" authority Zentrale Stelle der Justizverwaltungen), who interrogated this witness once again, without showing the slightest capability of a critical approach.
In this context, the statement by witness Emil Behr, who stated on March 21, 1959, that he worked in Auschwitz in the electricians unit under the Kapo (inmate foreman) Adolf Rögner, is of interest. He related:
"After I was told about several incidents, which are claimed to have been committed by the political department and partly by Boger, I cannot tell more details. I did not hear about these events.
[...] After I had been told that experiments were made with women in this Block 10, I must say that I did not know this.
It was known in the camp that shootings were performed in large amounts and almost daily by the political department at the Black Wall. But I do not anything more specific about it. Individual events are unknown to me. [...]
[...] I sure did see how inmates were mistreated by SS men." (p. 756)
"However, I cannot remember obvious killings. I also do not know about particular cases, where inmates died after their mistreatment by members of the SS." (p. 756f.)
"I was never present during selections of newly arrived transports. I have only heard and thus assume, that selections were performed at all transports. I have never seen the crematoria and the gas chambers. I do not know either, which SS man were on duty there." (p. 758)
Here we have a witness with a similar horizon of experiences as the witness Rögner, who worked in the same unit. In contrast to Rögner, however, Behr was not a "professional witness" after the war, did not work for an association of former inmates, did nor stockpile files and literature about German wartime camps, and was also not sentenced for perjury or other similar crimes, as was Rögner. Accordingly Behr has some knowledge about occasional mistreatments of inmates, but anything else is either totally unknown to him, or he "knows" it only from hearsay ("known in the camp", "only heard"). He exaggerates his insistence on his lack of knowledge, however, when he claims that he never saw the crematoria, since they really could not be missed. Perhaps he meant that he never saw the crematoria from the inside.
Such a degree of ignorance was expected to provoke a reaction from the interrogating officer, who was used to much better performances by other witnesses. Even though the merely summary protocol does not mention any skeptical remarks or questions by the officer, Behr's defensiveness indicates that his statement had been met with disbelief:
"I must admit that it appears almost incredible that I can say so little, even though I had been rather independent as an electrician and got around a lot in the camp. About this I must state that we could walk freely without guards only within the main camp." (p. 758)
Of course, this is true also for Rögner, but that did not prevent him from "remembering" everything and everybody. All in all, the documentation of Emil Behr's testimony is a slip-up that shows in a crystal clear way the difference between an uninfluenced witness, who is asked to remember certain events after 20 years, and a witness who has manipulated his own memory in an outright pathological way.
On April 8, 1959, the main defendant Wilhelm Boger was interrogated a second time by the German public prosecution. Some of the more interesting points of his statement are summarized in the following:
- All inmates admitted to the camp were registered by the political department and entered into a registry. Only non-German inmates had their inmate number tattooed (p. 790).
- Every member of the SS had to sign a declaration of honorthat prohibited them from physically mistreating prisoners (p. 796). Boger was in charge of investigating both SS men and inmates, who had committed crimes against inmates or had otherwise broken the law; among his cases was also one where an SS man had a dog attack an inmate (pp. 787, 791, 794f.).
- Punishments of inmates included corporal punishment (up to 25 beatings), incarceration (simple, severe, special labor unit, standing bunker), or penal transfer (to be ordered by the WVHA). Aggravated interrogations (torture) had to be authorized by the RSHA. They were performed by beating with a rod or whip, partly on the "swing," the effect of which had been tested by Boger and Broad during self-experiments:
He claims that bleeding injuries had never been the result of such mistreatments. (pp. 796ff.)
"Once Rottenführer Perry B r o a d and I hung ourselves onto the swing and did not perceive the mere hanging as a particular ordeal." (p. 798).
- Killings never occurred arbitrarily, but a) at attempts of escape, b) following verdicts by a court of law, or c) by order from higher up (mostly RSHA). Executions were performed partly by shooting into the neck with a Mauser small-bore rifle at the "Black Wall" (capital punishment due to crimes committed outside the camp) or by hanging (crimes committed within the camp). (pp. 798-801.)
- Auschwitz was the execution site of all death penalties handed down in the Government General (occupied Poland). Prisoners on death row were transferred to Auschwitz but executed only after all legal recourses were exhausted, including an appeal for mercy with the General Governor Hans Frank. As a result, these inmates were often in Auschwitz for more than a year before they were executed. Inmates unaware of these death penalties might have believed these executions were arbitrary (p. 809).
- SS members could enter the camp only with special permits (p. 795). Boger had no permit to enter the crematoria (p. 803).
It goes without saying that Boger's statements about the alleged homicidal gas chambers are of special interest here, so I will quote his statements in this regard more thoroughly:
"After I had been at the political department of Auschwitz for some 4 to 6 weeks, I heard for the first time that gassings were performed. These gassings must either have been conducted in the small crematorium and [sic] in Birkenau. I do not know anything more specific, because I never participated in a gassing. I heard for the first time from a newspaper article that gassings or gassing experiments are said to have been conducted in Block 11. This was in December 1958, when reports about the memoirs of Hoess were published in the context of my prosecution.
Generally every inmate had to work. Whoever was unable to work due to sickness, malnourishment and similar thing, was transferred to the inmates' sick-bay. I do not know what happened next with them. In any case, I have no knowledge that inmates were sent into the gas chamber just because of their unfitness to work. Of course many came to Birkenau, but that was due to the fact that the inmates' sick-bay in Birkenau was much larger than the one in the main camp." (p. 801)
"Those fit for labor were registered, those unfit for labor were brought to Birkenau, and I assume that they were gassed there immediately. I am not sure about that, because I was never present there. [...] To my knowledge, women and children went directly to the gassings. [...] Never did I myself go with inmates, who were at the ramp and intended to be gassed, to the gas chamber. Thus, I also know nothing from my own knowledge about what happened there. It was, however, known to the inmates and also to me that the inmates intended to be gassed had to undress, allegedly in order to be bathed and deloused, that they then had to walk into a room equipped as a shower room, that it was then locked tight. I do not know what kind of gas was used. Every crematorium, at the end there were four – had its respective gassing rooms. [...]" (p. 802)
"I cannot give very exact details about the events, because the crematoria including the gassing rooms were fenced in and particularly guarded, and even we SS members were not allowed to enter these areas. Not even my special permit allowed me to enter the crematorium."
Before analyzing his statements, I want to mention Boger's response to the interrogator's quoting of the statement of witness Filip Müller, according to which Boger had ordered and attended executions in the crematoria II and III of Birkenau. Boger responded to that as follows:
"In Birkenau no executions were conducted." (p. 806)
One may ask what mass gassings are to be called, if not executions, which Boger admitted just a page earlier had taken place in Birkenau?
Furthermore, I would like to briefly examine a statement made by Boger during an interrogation conducted by U.S. occupational forces on July 5, 1945, in Ludwigsburg. Boger had been arrested on June 19, 1945, by the Americans and after several stops was finally brought to Dachau, from where he was supposed to be extradited to Polish authorities on Nov. 22, 1946. However, Boger managed to flee (p. 786). It is not known if Boger was a defendant or a forced witness during the show trials staged by the Americans in Dachau during those times, but it seems likely that Boger, as a former Gestapo officer active in Auschwitz, wasn't treated any better by the Americans than the majority of other Germans who ended up in this American torture machine.
The interrogation protocol on July 1945 is interesting for two reasons: first, because Boger refers to one of his inmate secretaries as a witness for his defense (p. 823), and secondly he reports the following – in a rather disconnected way:
"When the mass dying of Au.[schwitz] – the Auschwitz SS staff itself had, allegedly due to epidemics, but in reality for transparent reasons, a camp quarantine for over 11/2 years! The grey inmates before the wire [fence]! – came to the knowledge of the world over the heads of the clueless German people during the fall of 1943, suddenly the leading positions in the camp and at the State Police Kattowitz (criminal police) were restaffed by the Reich Criminal Police Office, on behalf of the Highest SS and Police Court, on order of Reich Leader SS Himmler an investigation was initiated! A ridiculous theater, which thus had according success! Under strictest secrecy [...] the special commission of the infamous Highest Judge (on special request) and representative of the prosecution, SS-Stubaf. Dr. Morgen with 6-8 manned [sic...] 4 months in Au. active to investigate 'cases of corruption and murder.'" (p. 824)
Boger claims that the head of the political department of Auschwitz Grabner had been put on trial on Oct. 13 and 14, 1944, because of unauthorized killings of inmates. Boger claims that he appeared during this trial as a witness for the prosecution (p. 825).
Regarding homicidal gassings, Boger declared this summarily:
"The total of all inmates killed in Auschwitz by means of gassings, shootings, hangings, and epidemics and also of members of the SS will never be determined exactly, but certainly exceeds the cautious estimate degrees [sic] by SS Oberscharführer Erber (former Houstek), who was active in the 'registry,' four (4) millions by far!"
Thus, not even two weeks after he was captured by the Americans, Boger already parroted the propaganda lie of four million victims as spread by the Allies since early 1945. What should one think about the independence and trustworthiness of such a witness? And what about the methods of his interrogators, not to mention the utterly incoherent language, which indicates he must have suffered mentally under his interrogators.
Let us keep in mind: According to Boger's statement, his department was in charge of registering all inmates admitted to the camp; it was illegal to mistreat these inmates; severe punishments and in particular killings occurred only following orders from higher up and were administered by Boger's department; Boger was responsible for investigating transgressions of law and order in the camp.
The question thus arises, how can he at the same time seriously claim he had either no knowledge about gassings (that is, mass executions) or knew about them only from hearsay? We know how the Frankfurt Jury Court answered this question: Boger did not tell the truth, because he must have known more about those gassings than he admitted.
I agree with the court that Boger did not testify truthfully, but from a different perspective: From his first interrogation right after the war, we can clearly see that the Americans subjected him to a treatment, after which he willingly parroted the lie of four million Auschwitz victims, a number which is today generally rejected as atrocity propaganda. His entire statement of 1945 reads as if it was written by a person not involved in the claimed events of Auschwitz, by someone who accuses the Gestapo and SS of terrible crimes in a style that is to be expected by a victim or prosecutor of such crimes! Such a dramatic and theatrical prosecutorial style against himself and written in the third person is typical for "confessions" made by defendants in Stalinist show trials.
Brainwashed in such a way, Boger managed to flee his captors, but as a consequence of the steady and steadily increasing exposure to Holocaust propaganda without any antidote, he started to believe and consider as his own knowledge what was suggested to him in 1945-1946. But how do we distinguish his own knowledge from alien knowledge?
There is, first of all, the internal coherence of Boger's later statement, which can also be proven to be correct by war-time documents: As Gestapo officer he investigated crimes (however that was defined in those times); he tortured, punished and executed on the demand of court orders; he accurately describes the structure of his department, the names, ranks and responsibilities of superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; he describes the treatment of sick inmates and those unfit for labor properly and reports about the terrible typhus epidemic leading to a total quarantine of the entire camp. All this can be proven with documents and results in a consistent picture.
The only thing that does not fit into this image are those ominous gas chambers – unsupported by documentary evidence – which he claims he never saw and about which he has no exact knowledge, even though his department was responsible for executions, for investigations of transgressions, for registering inmates, and even though the concept of gassing inmates unfit for labor contradict his statement – which is supported by documents – that inmates unfit for labor were nursed back to health in the inmates' sick-bay at Birkenau.
What is the truth? It is clearly visible in front of our eyes, yet the Frankfurt judges were apparently blind.
Pery S. Broad
One of the more often quoted witnesses for alleged homicidal gassings in the old crematorium of the main camp Auschwitz is Pery S. Broad. Broad was Boger's assistant (p. 791), and several witnesses accused him of crimes similar to the ones they accused Boger of committing. J.-C. Pressac has pointed out that Broad's "confession", which he is claimed to have made voluntarily in July 1945 while in British captivity, is even more riddled with theatrical accusations against the SS – that is, against himself – than Boger's "confession" of the same month. This fact in and of itself speaks volumes. Apparently due to his donkey-work as an "assistant prosecutor" after the war, he was neither prosecuted nor extradited to Poland, but he nevertheless ended up in pretrial detention in 1959 – probably indirectly as a result of his own post-war statements – and then in front of the Frankfurt judges. (How did that saying go? Frankfurt loves treason, but not the traitor?) We will discuss Broad in more detail in a later installment of this series.
||If not indicated otherwise, all volume and page references refer to: Public Prosecution at the District Court of Frankfurt (Main), "Strafsache beim Schwurgericht Frankfurt (Main) gegen Baer und Andere wegen Mordes," Ref. 4 Js 444/59; vol. 5, pp. 651-835, and vol. 6, pp. 836-986.
||File memo of the interrogating police office Haug, vol. 2, p. 221; regarding the first interrogation of H. Breiden see. TR 1(3) (2003), p. 354.
||TR 1(3) (2003), p. 355.
||Only the first 19 pages of this protocol are legible (until p. 721, 52 crimes until then), so that the entire 30 pages of this protocol could very well contain some 75 alleged crimes Rögner claims to have witnessed.
||A similarly untrustworthy witness was interrogated on March 18, 1959, in the German embassy in Paris: Zlata Dounia Wassersztrom. In her statement she repeatedly indicates that she has her knowledge from hearsay, from "experience literature," and through contacts with associations of former inmates, pp. 762, 763-767, esp. 767. Instead of asking more detailed in order to separate first hand experience form hearsay, diplomatic counsel Knatz did the exact opposite:
"The embassy refrained intentionally from asking her for further details [...], since the witness visibly had a hard time to keep control over her excitement. She probably presented the essentials already in her publications and repeatedly referred to the material of the International Auschwitz Committee [...]" (p. 762)
||Boger describes it again as he did before, cf. TR 1(3) (2003), p. 353.
||Vol. 4, p. 496.
||For a description of the methods used see m. Köhler, "The Value of Testimony and Confessions Concerning the Holocaust," in G. Rudolf (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust, 2nd. ed., Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, pp. 85-131, in particular pp. 91-96.
||E.g. Hugo Breiden, p. 699; Adolf Rögner, p. 705.
||Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas chambers, Beate-Klarsfeld-Foundation, New York 1989, p. 128; Pery Broad, "Erinnerungen", in: Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Krajowa Agencja Wydawniczna, Katowitz, 1981.