From the Records of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Part 4
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In late 1958 and early 1959, public prosecutor Weber of the Public Prosecutor's Office in Stuttgart, Germany, received a large number of witness statements, mainly consisting of accusations against Wilhelm Boger, who was already in custody at that time for crimes allegedly committed by him in the former concentration camp at Auschwitz. Some of these witness statements will be investigated more closely in this article.
1. Lack of Knowledge = Lack of Credibility?
Gerhard Grande was incarcerated at the Auschwitz main camp between Easter 1943 and April 1944, where he served as a report secretary. In this position, he had some 80 inmates working for him as typists in the administration of the camp. There can be no doubt that he was thus in an excellent position to know what was going on in this camp. Although Grande confirms that W. Boger was known as a rough person, he claims to remember only one incident of corporal punishment: Early in 1944, an inmate with the name Osterloh had been punished for stealing a pair of shoes: he was put on the "swing bow" and received several blows with a stick:
"As far as I know, however, O s t e r l o h did not sustain any physical injuries." (p. 358R)
Grande also remembers that in the Fall of 1943 several inmates who had worked outside of the camp were executed. They had murdered one of their guards. As a reprisal measure, some 20 Polish inmates had been executed as well. Grande attributes his inability to recall details to the amount of time that has passed since then and also to the fact that, as he claims, "such crimes were daily events" (p. 359R). At the end of the interrogation protocol, the interrogating officer Schubert wrote that Grande was unable to remember anything specific (ibid.).
It is noteworthy that Grande was only interrogated about alleged crimes committed by Boger, although Grande, as a report secretary, would have certainly been able to testify about many more issues of the camp's organization and administrative procedures and events. But at the time of his interrogation, apparently nobody was interested in learning about general conditions and events in Auschwitz.
Whereas the interrogating officer abstained from making any comment about Grande, it was entirely different regarding the witness Jakob Fries, a criminal inmate who had been transferred to Auschwitz for a work assignment. In 1952, Fries had been sentenced to 14 years in prison for crimes not mentioned in the files. In contrast to the professional liar Rögner, however, Fries was not very cooperative. Because he could not contribute anything that would incriminate Boger, the interrogating officer simply refused to make a protocol of this interrogation:
"Fries did not make a credible impression and was not eager to testify. One could get the impression that he made no effort to clarify the matter at hand. Apart from this, he made only general statements, which is why it was decided not to protocol his interrogation." (p. 437)
We therefore depend on the interrogating officer Weida's summary of Fries' statements. According to Weida, Fries was head of all inmate labor commandos in the Auschwitz main camp, but regarding alleged crimes:
"He claims not to have heard anything about shootings in Auschwitz. [...] He merely remembers that in Auschwitz inmates, who had tried to climb over the fence, were shot by guards. He also claims to have heard nothing about other crimes against inmates. He claims to have learned only after 1945 and through media reports what had been going on in Auschwitz and especially in Birkenau." (p. 437R)
Here we have a witness who is either unable to distinguish between what he experienced himself and what he learned only after the war, or a witness who, as the person responsible for the organization of forced labor, was himself so involved in criminal activities that he did not want to remember anything for tactical reasons. The interrogating officer probably assumed the latter. It must, of course, be assumed that Fries knew very well what was going on in Auschwitz, since his direct superior was none other than Hauptsturmführer Aumeier, who was then the head of the "Protective Custody Camp" (Schutzhaftlagerführer) and deputy commander of the entire camp.
Unfortunately, the interrogating officer did not explain why he considered Fries to be an unreliable witness. The lack of specific memories could not, by itself, prove him unreliable, because if the interrogating officer considered only testimony that confirmed a predetermined claim to be credible, this would indicate that the purpose of the entire proceeding was not to find the truth, but to find evidence for a foregone conclusion. And this would prove that the interrogating officer was not objective and that his entire legal case was legally unsound.
2. Rumors and Hearsay
"But gruesome things are supposed to have happened there, as I have heard." (p. 393)
This seems to be the main characteristic of an entire series of testimony that impresses with its wealth of detail about alleged events in the Auschwitz camp; but how the witnesses gained their knowledge is unclear. As unyielding and unsatisfying as the testimony of Grande and Fries may be, at least these two witnesses were honest to the degree that they did not invent things or declare as firsthand knowledge that, which they learned from hearsay from unnamed sources. The remaining testimonies in this file read more like horror fables. It seems incredible that anyone can remember events in utmost detail after fifteen years.
The account of former SS-Mannes Emil Theodor Gehri is particularly enlightening in this regard. He was employed in the administration of inmate funds, which paid a small salary to all inmates. Gehri remembers that larger amounts of coins and valuables were sent to Berlin as time went by. He cannot testify about any mistreatment by SS-members (pp. 433, 435R), yet he states:
"Of course I know that essential portions of newly arriving transports were gassed immediately since 1942." (p. 434R)
The protocol does not reveal how he could know this, since he vehemently claims to have neither participated in it nor witnessed it:
"I myself was never present at a gassing [...]. It was prohibited for us under threat of the most severe punishment to enter the crematoria and the area belonging to it." (p. 433)
One possible source of his 'knowledge' is revealed at the very beginning of his interrogation, where he mentions that he had been put on trial in 1946 in Krakow, where he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by the Polish authorities for his activities at the Auschwitz camp (p. 432). One page later, he reports about the source of his knowledge:
"It is said that those unfit for labor were separated immediately and came to Birkenau, where they were gassed."
"It is said" – in other words: it was claimed or rumored...
But Gehri also testifies about exonerating details, probably more accidentally and most likely without the interrogating prosecutor noticing it: He describes how he, as the administrator of the inmate bank, needed to update his inmate lists with that of the political department of the camp each time an inmate had died. On each occasion, he also learned about the cause of death (p. 433R). He elaborates on this as follows:
"The number of deaths rose only when a typhus epidemic broke out in 1942 and later several times again. Each time after the epidemic waned, the number of deaths receded as well." (p. 434R)
Gehri is unaware of either the "Boger swing" or the "Black Wall" (p. 434R), but he mentions fistfight contests (p. 435).
The testimony of Jakob Sebastian is a particularly extreme case of hearsay. The most dramatic parts of his statement read as follows:
"It then became known to the inmates within the camp that the relatives of the escaped inmate are said to have been executed by SS-Oberscharführer P a l i t z s c h. The 3 year old child is even said to have asked innocently what would happen there. Palitzsch is said to have grabbed the infant at its legs and battered it against the wall with the remark: 'We do not shot such a thing!' At that time, it was an open secret in the camp that this event had happened under the direction of B o g e r. [...]
In this case as well I have to declare that I myself did not see B o g e r committing any cruel acts or being involved in the shooting of the relatives of the escaped inmate. I know this only due to what other inmates told me and due to the general mood and views that Boger was at least responsible for these things." (p. 489)
The interrogating officer Matthäus added:
"K r o n a u e r made his statement freely and repeatedly indicated that the events are also reported in the book 'Mützen ab' [hats off] by Zenon Rozanski – Eine Reportage aus der Strafkompanie des KZ.Auschwitz [A report from the penal company of the Auschwitz camp] – published in 1948 by 'Das andere Deutschland', owned by Fritz Küster, in Hanover. Kronauer owns this book. [...]
In September 1958, Jakob K r o n a u e r had been put into the Psychiatric Clinic Heppenheim, because he had uttered suicidal intentions after a nervous breakdown [...].
Already on Nov. 24, 1945, Kronauer was interrogated about his incarceration. He then basically made the same statements as those made above, without giving any details about the behavior of the guards. This interrogation, however, was only about the duration of his incarceration and was initiated by the Association of Former Political Prisoners in Hesse.
On June 24, 1946, the former landlord, at whose house Kronauer lived, the late Jakob K l i n g, Sedanstrasse 36, stated on request that Kronauer had been a 'Kapo' at Auschwitz. Because Kronauer had disappeared for two days, he assumed that former Displaced Persons – at that time residing in Lampertheim – might have recognized him and might have caused his arrest. On June 26, 1946, Kronauer reported to the local police and stated that he had been interrogated for two days in Bensheim, but had been released thereafter." (pp. 493f.)
I have quoted this as extensively as I have because these statements emphasize four points:
- As Kronauer admits himself, he did not report from his own experience but from what he had learned otherwise.
- Kronauer was obviously mentally instable, which might have made him susceptible to suggestive, memory-distorting influences of dramatic stories.
- In an interrogation performed only ten months after the end of the war, he apparently did not see any reason to make any statements about misbehaviors of former camp guards, even though his memory was still quite fresh at that time and the interrogating inmate organization was certainly open for such reports.
- "Kapos" or inmate supervisors were very often the main culprits for cruelties committed against other inmates in German concentration camps. It is therefore possible that Kronauer himself did not have a clear conscience, i.e., that he had a vested interest in accusing others in order to distract attention from himself and in order to secure the goodwill of former inmates and their organizations.
3. Testimony Manipulated by the Auschwitz Committee
In two instances in the file investigated here, the influence of the communist-dominated Auschwitz Committee under the leadership of former Auschwitz inmate and longtime active communist Hermann Langbein can be proved:
On January 21, 1958, Public Prosecutor Weber wrote about the situation of the defendant Boger:
"it cannot be ignored that the defence situation of the defendant is unfavorable, because accusations are systematically filed by the Auschwitz Committee, which has its headquarters in Krakow [Poland]. The incriminating material includes, among others, written statements of individuals from communist countries who can neither be reached nor verified." (p. 477)
In the 1950s, an organization could only have its headquarters in Poland if it was Stalinist and radically anti-German in nature, or in other words: if it was willing to continue the Ilya-Ehrenburg-style atrocity propaganda started during World War II. By juxtaposing two of the written testimonies filed by the Auschwitz Committee with the Public Prosecution of Stuttgart, it can be shown that there is something fishy about these testimonies (see table).
"Henryk Wysoczynski [...]
Together with 400 other inmates, I arrived at the concentration camp Auschwitz from the Gestapo prison in Lodz on February 28, 1943. Only seven of these 400 survived the hell of Auschwitz.
I was accused to be a member of the resistance movement, and was forced to do heavy work in the commando 'fish ponds.' After the quarantine during May, I worked in the commando 'fish ponds Raysko' until May 5, 1943. [...]
In August 1944, the soldiers of the Soviet army, who were incarcerated at Birkenau, fled. Four of them were arrested a brought back to Birkenau, were they were supposed to be executed. One day (I cannot recall the exact date) the were supposed to be hanged after the roll call.
Accompanied by SS men, they were led into the camp. Prior to the execution, which took place in front of the kitchen, one of them attacked SS-Oberscharführer Boger. The SS men threw this inmate on the ground and SS-Oberscharführer Boger beat him and kicked him with his feet. Then Boger put the noose around the neck of all four and hanged them. I have seen this and all comrades had to watch this execution.
I was in Auschwitz until January 18, 1945, and I had the inmate number 97,640." (p. 425)
"[...] Windyslaw [...]
I arrived at the concentration camp Auschwitz on February 28, 1943, coming from the Gestapo prison together with 400 other inmates. As a political prisoner I had the inmate number 97,673. I was assigned to the working commando 'kitchen' in Auschwitz Birkenau.
I was from February 28 until January 18, 1945, in Auschwitz, i.e. until the evacuation of the inmates.
The prisoners of the Soviet Army were also in this camp. In the month of August 1944, some of these prisoners fled from the camp. Within a short while, four of them were recaptured by the SS and brought back to Birkenau. They were supposed to be punished with death.
The gallows were erected in front of the kitchen and after the roll call, I forgot the date of this day, the soldiers were supposed to be executed by hanging.
SS men led the soldiers, tied with wire, [illegible...] after the roll call. When they stood already before the gallows, one of the soldiers broke loose and attacked Boger. SS men threw [illegible...] soldier down and Boger beat [illegible...] and he kicked him with his feet.
[illegible...] all four soldiers hanged [illegible...]" (p. 426)
Both witnesses lived in the same town, dated their statements with the same day, and sent it to Stuttgart at roughly the same time as all the other Polish witnesses, obviously encouraged by the Auschwitz Committee. It can easily be recognized that the style and content of the two testimonies are so similar that one has to assume that the witnesses prepared their testimony together or that they were instructed by the Auschwitz Committee, or both.
4. Böck and Rögner: Two False Witnesses
Parts of Richard Böck's testimony, written down during the investigations for the Auschwitz trial, are sometimes quoted by revisionists and used as evidence of the lack of credibility of this and other similar testimonies. The statements quoted stem from an interrogation of Nov. 2, 1960. Böck had, however, already been interrogated much earlier: on February 5, 1959.
Böck was a driver in the car pool of the Auschwitz camp, where his primary duty was to organize the transport of supplies for the camp. Both the style and the content of his testimony clearly indicate that he identified much more with the former inmates of the camp than with his former SS comrades – at least during the time of his interrogations. For example, he claims that he smuggled mail in and out of the camp over an extended period of time (pp. 447, 461, 463). Although an investigation by the political department (Gestapo) was initiated as a result, there were no consequences for Böck (pp. 449-451). And even though he had been arrested for a short period of time in the context of those investigations, he claims to have never heard anything about the "Boger swing" (p. 450). His comical descriptions of his alleged resistance activities are a clear indication that his hero stories are either not true or that the Gestapo in Auschwitz was utterly harmless.
Due to his intensive contacts with the inmates, Böck also had contact with inmate Adolf Rögner, who, according to Böck, was a "Kapo" in Auschwitz and a member of the so-called camp underground, which even owned its own radio transmitter (p. 446). It is thus quite possible that Rögner belonged to that circle of inmates described by Bruno Baum as being proud to have put into circulation the Auschwitz propaganda, which is now spreading all over the world. As a member of an "Inmate Investigative Commission," Rögner also managed to liberate Böck from Allied post-war incarceration by organizing several affidavits of former inmates who testified on behalf of Böck (pp. 443, 459-465). During his second interrogation, Böck mentions further that Rögner was employed in the electrical department of the car pool (p. 6879). In other words: Böck and Rögner were obviously friends. This is also the only explanation for why Böck repeatedly mentions Rögner in his testimony without having any reason to do so.
The first three installments of this series reported in detail about the perjured liar and professional denunciator Rögner. Böck's relationship with Rögner raises the suspicion that something other than dedication to the truth was hiding behind Böck's eagerness to testify, as was the case with Rögner. I therefore will analyze Böck's statements in more detail.
During his first interrogation, Böck claimed that he had witnessed a gassing "once myself. That must have been in summer of 1943" (p. 453). During his second interrogation, this gassing suddenly took place "in the winter of 1942/43" (p. 6881). Even though it was "strictly prohibited" for him as an unauthorized person, he easily managed to get to the gas chamber by getting a ride in the ambulance car (ibidem). Similar to this is another statement in his first interrogation, where he secretly witnesses an execution in a gravel pit by simply "following" the column of the executee and his SS guards "in a few meters distance" (p. 451). According to Böck, the command for the execution of inmates was: "Ready, set, go!" (p. 452).
There are three options: a) the gassings/executions were not secret (that is, Böck is lying in this regard); b) the SS consisted of dim-witted morons who did not follow the most primitive security measures and did not even notice it when somebody followed them only a few meters away into a gravel pit; or c) Böck is lying about these events. Since an execution is not a 100 meter sprint – execution commands are something like "Ready, aim, fire!" – the reader can figure out by himself which case is most likely given regarding Böck.
Another of Böck's allegations fits perfectly into this picture: He claims that one day he was ordered to come with a truck-load of sandwiches to the railroad ramp at Birkenau, where a selection of incoming inmates was taking place, but he eventually had to return again with all of his sandwiches (p. 6884). According to Böck, the reason for this was:
"Because they wanted to be prepared if a commission would come from Switzerland to observe the 'resettlement of the Jews'." (p. 6883)
Böck speculates that those sandwiches were meant to make the commission of the International Red Cross believe that the inmates were treated well. For the same reason, the van used to transport Zyklon B to the gas chamber had allegedly been camouflaged with a Red Cross symbol (ibidem). As if the mighty SS was not in control of whether or not a delegation of the Red Cross would enter the camp, and as if anybody would have been fooled by a few sandwiches into ignoring the allegedly atrocious general conditions in the camp!
On pages 6882f., we find those statements that have been frequently quoted and interpreted as indications that this witness makes false claims:
"Finally, an SS man came, I believe it was a Rottenführer, to our ambulance and got out a gas canister. With this gas canister he then went to a ladder, which stood at the right side of this building, seen from the gate. At the same time, I noticed that he had a gas mask on while climbing the ladder. After he had reached the end of the ladder, he opened the circular tin lid and shook the contents of the canister into the opening. I clearly heard the rattling of the canister against the wall, as he hit it while shaking it out. Simultaneously I saw a brown dust rise through the wall opening. When he had closed the little door again, an indescribable crying began in the chamber. I simply cannot describe how these humans cried. That lasted approximately 8-10 minutes, and then all was silent. A short time afterwards, the door was opened by inmates and one could see a bluish cloud floating over a gigantic pile of corpses." (p. 6882)
"At any rate, I was surprised that the inmate commando which was assigned to remove the bodies, entered the chamber without gas masks, although this blue vapor floated over the corpses, from which I assumed that it was a gas." (p. 6883)
Since Zyklon B does not produce a brown dust when poured out of its cans, and hydrogen cyanide gas is colorless, and the inmate commando cannot have been immune against the same poison gas that killed the victims within a few minutes just a few moments earlier, it is obvious that Böck cannot have seen what he claims to have seen.
But this is not yet all. In the fall of 1941, Böck claims to have accidentally witnessed, how 60 prisoners were gassed in the crematorium I, located in the Auschwitz main camp:
"In the fall of 1941, I observed one evening after my shift at the car pool was over how Ustuf. [SS Untersturmführer] G r a b n e r stopped in front of crematorium a, main camp, with some 60 male Jews, coming from the direction of the train station Auschwitz. Then he drove all Jews into the crematorium by ordering them to go in there. After all Jews had entered, I saw how another SS man stepped onto the crematorium and opened some kind of a shutter. At the same time I heard terrible screams, but this lasted only a short while. Then it was silent." (p. 6886)
This statement is problematic for several reasons:
- According to official historiography, there was only one gassing during the fall of 1941, and it allegedly took place in the basement of camp building no. 11 with several hundred Russian POWs as victims. It is the general belief that the mortuary of the old crematorium of the main camp has been redesigned for use as a 'gas chamber' in 1942, hence could not have been used for gassings in late 1941.
- The alleged gas chamber of the old crematorium was a relatively large mortuary by its design. According to established historiography, several hundred victims were murdered in it, not just 60.
- Böck himself admits that the car pool at Auschwitz, where he worked day in day out for several years, was located just on the other side of the road, near the old crematorium – Böck even added a hand drawn map to this effect to the protocol of his interrogation (p. 6887, map p. 458). How is it that he neither witnessed nor even heard anything about the mass gassings, which allegedly took place in that crematorium during the years 1942-1943 according to orthodox historiography?
Böck tries to balance his general lack of knowledge about what was going on on the other side of the road by claiming that he made the following observation:
"In any case, during the entire time of my presence in Auschwitz I could observe that inmate corpses were cremated in the old crematorium. This decreased somewhat only toward the end of 1944. I could see every day how the flames shot two meters high out of the chimney. It also smelled intensively like burned flesh."
The following comments have to be made about these claims:
- The old crematorium in the main camp was taken out of operation after the new crematoria in Birkenau went into operation in spring 1943. In early 1944, the old crematorium was converted into an air raid shelter. Thus, Böck cannot possibly have witnessed cremations at the main camp until the end of 1944.
- For technical reasons, no flames can come shooting out of a crematorium chimney. Either Böck lied, or he hallucinated, or he talked himself into believing things he heard from elsewhere.
- Coke-fired crematorium chimneys might emit the smell of burning coke, but certainly not the smell of burning flesh.
A repetitive theme is the claim that SS men participated at selections for mass gassings because they were rewarded with alloweance of schnapps (p. 393, Böck, p. 6884). Additional allowances of food and liquor for difficult tasks may actually have existed, but the allegation that the SS was an accumulation of drunkards raises the suspicion that the source for such a cliché are Polish propagandists and vodka lovers, projecting from themselves onto others.
I want to mention only as an aside that Böck shifts the construction of the Birkenauer railway ramp to the year 1943 (p. 6880) – it was constructed in 1944. But here he might for once have just erred. The remainder of öck's tatements are basically nothing else but – well, I cannot hold it back, so please forgive me – B.S.
First published in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, 7(2) (2003), pp. 224-229. Reproductions of Public Prosecutor Weber's assessment of Boger's defence situation as well as six pages of Richard Böck's testimony are print there.
|||Cf. TR 1(1) (2003), pp. 115-118; 1(2) (2003), pp. 235-238; 1(3) (2003), pp. 352-358.|
|||All vol. and page nos refer to: Staatsanwaltschaft beim LG Frankfurt (Main), Strafsache beim Schwurgericht Frankfurt (Main) gegen Baer und Andere wegen Mordes, ref. 4 Js 444/59; vol. 3, pp. 325-494, vol. 29, pp. 6677-6903.|
|||The first 17 pages of this interrogation protocol are illegible so that the name of the witness is unknown.|
|||Name hardly legible.|
|||Cf. G. Rudolf, The Rudolf Report, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago, IL, p. 203ff.; J. Graf, Auschwitz – Tätergestandnisse und Augenzeugen des Holocaust, Neue Visionen Verlag, Würenlos 1994, pp. 213-218.|
|||In this context Böck's remark should be noted that the truck driven by him was a "producer gas" truck, that is: a poison gas truck, p. 442.|
|||B. Baum, Widerstand in Auschwitz, Ostberlin 1949, p. 34.|
|||The verdict against Adolf Rögners for perjury became effective, ibid., p. 401.|
|||Cf. in this regard Carlo Mattogno, Auschwitz: La prima gasazione, Edizioni di Ar, Salerno 1992.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||From the Records of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Part 4|
|Sources:||The Revisionist 1(4) (2003), pp. 468-472|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 27, 2012, 7 p.m.|
|Comments:||First published in German in "Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung," 7(2) (2003), pp. 224-229. Reproductions of Public Prosecutor Weber's assessment of Boger's defence situation as well as six pages of Richard Böck's testimony are print there.|