The Memoirs of Rudolph Hoess, head of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

Peter Myers, May 3, 2009; update (ch. 20 The Jews added) September 10, 2012.

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Readers' letters, and replies, added February 23, 2011.

Hoss' Memoirs and Last Letters

{The Introduction - pp. 19-22 - and the Footnotes, are by Steven Paskuly; the rest by Hoss}


The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz

by Rudolph Hoss

Edited by Steven Paskuly
Translated by Andrew Pollinger
Foreword by Primo Levi


{p. 17} Translator's note {by Andrew Pollinger}

... In translating the handwritten notes of Rudolf Hoss, another problem arose, since he wrote in a mixture of old German script and the so-called new Latin script adopted in the late nineteen-thirties in Nazi Germany. ...

{p. 19} Introduction {by Steven Paskuly}

On April 16, 1947, Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoss - the Kommandant of the most infamous death camp - Auschwitz-Birkenau - was hanged after a lengthy trial in Warsaw, Poland, for "crimes committed against the Polish people." The gallows were erected just a few steps away from Auschwitz Crematoria I, the first gas chamber to use Cyclon B gas. By the judgment of history and by his own admission, Rudolf Hoss is the greatest mass murderer of all time. He was the founder and driving force in the development of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex and the more than thirty subcamps of the sprawling Auschwik complex. Hundreds of books and stories about camp life in Auschwitz have been written describing the prisoners' experiences, but only one SS officer wrote at length about the camp from the SS viewpoint. These memoirs of Rudolf Hoss narrate the development and administration of the largest killing center ever created.

The memoirs, profiles, and letters of Kommandant Rudolf Hoss were written between October 1946 and April 1947 at the suggestion of Jan Sehn, the prosecuting attorney for the Polish War Crimes Commission in Warsaw. Hoss wrote explanations of the camp regulations, described his impressions of various personalities with whom he dealt, and wrote at length about the implementation of the Final Solution. The initial descriptions were written to help Hoss recall events that were brought up during his trial.

The translated documents that constitute Death Dealer, with the exception of the appendices, were written by Rudolf Hoss with pencil on low-grade paper. When he completed a section, he wrote the month, the year, and his signature. Often he would just sign his last name - Hoss, or just simply H. He wrote on one side of each sheet of paper, then turned the sheet over and continued on the back, numbering only the first page, designating it as page 1. Page 2 would really indicate that there were four sides written about each topic. The briefest account was a half page about the SS tattoos. The longest section is about his life, which consists of 114 sheets of paper, or 228 pages. The penciled writings usually begin with sharp clarity, deteriorating to a flattened-out scrawl. This tends to indicate that Hoss was not aUowed to keep a knife to sharpen the pencil.

{p. 20} From a careful review of the actual handwritten documents, one can deduce that Hoss reread what he wrote, because he added phrases between the written lines to help clarify what he was attempting to explain. He also retraced a weakly written word or phrase with a newly sharpened pencil to make the words more legible. In some cases, the aging of the paper has made the task of reading the penciled writings more difficult, but by no means impossible.

The archival assembly of Hoss's writings are twice numbered, once by Hoss himself at the top or upper-left-hand corners, such as -42-, and once again in the lower-right or lower-left corner, such as a 356 circled in red pencil. Mr. Tadeusz Iwaszko, the original archivist from the very beginning of the Auschwitz Museum in 1948, stated that, "It was necessary to put the manuscript in an order to facilitate microfilming and photocopying. Since the memoirs of Hoss's life were the most requested, they were placed first, even though it was the last section Hoss wrote." The section entitled "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question at KL Auschwitz" was placed second. The personalities he described follow.

As Jan Sehn and Hoss became more comfortable with each other, Sehn asked Hoss to write about some of the people and try to recall some of the documents that had been destroyed when Auschwitz was being evacuated because of the approaching Soviet armies. Sehn also asked Hoss to write about some of the people who were responsible for the major decisions concerning the founding and construction of Auschwitz-Birkenau, such as Himmler, Pohl, and Eicke. The others were added as requested by Sehn. Many have never been published anywhere before. After Hoss had completed the anecdotal sections, he remarked to Sehn one day that there was nothing to do in his jail cell in Cracow. This comment spurred Sehn to suggest that Hoss write about himself. This section is often referred to by historians as the "Autobiography of Rudolf Hoss." Hoss's last writings are two letters to his wife and children and the request that his wedding ring be sent to his wife after his execution. These have also never before been published in the United States and are presented in this book to provide the reader with a deeper look into Hoss the human being rather than Hoss the zealous Nazi who followed orders without question.

Just after his capture in 1946, the British Security Police were able to extract a statement from Hoss by beating him and filling him with liquor. Hoss states in his autobiogrphy that he doesnt remember what was in that statement. It does not differ in any great degree from the section entitled, "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in KL Auschwitz." The later section, however, does conta, more detail than the original forced statement to the British interrogators.

{p. 21} There are fanatical groups in the United States, France, and even Australia who call themselves "The Revisionist Historians." They actually propose that Hoss never wrote these documents - that they are a fraud. They also state that even if the documents were written by Hoss, they were obviously done under duress from the "Communist authorities" in Poland.

The "research" and the conclusions of these "historians" are absolute rubbish. The documents written in Poland, the personal interviews given to psychiatrist G. Martin Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials, and Rudolf Hoss's blunt testimony during the trial itself are consistent with each other to such a degree that we can safely believe that the memoirs written in Poland are an elaboration of the Nuremberg testimony containing much more detail. The documents in Death Dealer are consistent with other statements made by SS Corporal Pery Broad and the diary of SS Dr. Kremer, who also were at Auschwitz, and with personal accounts by prisoners in the essential facts. They differ only when Hoss attempts to recall exact dates and numbers of prisoners. They also differ when Hoss writes about his part in the Final Solution. Hoss maintains that he was only following orders and being a good Nazi, and that he did this with no thought or regard to moral consequences because "Befehl ist Befehl" - "orders are orders," therefore, they must be followed. It is only at the end of his autobiography, written almost two years after the war ended, that the moral implications of what Hoss did occurred to him and began to affect him consciously. The two final letters to his wife and his children reveal the heavy burden of guilt that he was experiencing. Where Hdss does consciously lie is in regard to his wife, Hedwig, and her knowledge of the mass killings, in order to protect her and their children from the inevitable postwar stigma and finger-pointing. This is evident by examining the statements made to psychiatrist Gilbert in 1945 and his last statements in 1947. Hoss revealed to Gilbert that one day at a party hosted at the Hoss villa, his wife overheard comments made by the Gauleiter of Silesia, Fritz Bracht, about the mass gassings occurring at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later that evening in their bedroom, she questioned him about what she had heard. Hoss told Gilbert that he answered his wife's questions. He said that this was the only time he broke Himmler's order about absolute secrecy and discussed the Final Solution with anyone. Only Hoss and his wife know what took place that evening and what the contents of the conversation were. Thereafter, Frau Hoss refused to sleep in the same bed with her husband "and physical intimacy between the couple was rare. They became emotionally estranged from each other."

Kommandant Hoss also pleads that he personally was unable to stop

{p. 22} the brutality at Auschwitz-Birkenau because his staff officers often went against his orders. The truth is that he did nothing to prevent it. When SS Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Liebehenschel became Kommandant of Auschwitz after Hoss's promotion, he ordered all the SS and the Kapos in charge of prisoners to stop the random beatings. Some Kapos thought that he was joking and continued this practice. When Liebehenschel found out, he demoted them to ordinary prisoners and they were put in a work Kommando where they had to do physical labor. The beatings at Auschwitz stopped. Therefore, the truth is that Hoss allowed the beatings and the terror to continue because it served his purpose of maintaining camp discipline in the tradition of Theodore Eicke. Although Hoss writes negatively about the punishments Eicke inflicted on the prisoners, he fails to mention that the camp regulations and punishments were formulated by Hoss himself. He also fails to mention the executions of prisoners found after escaping, or the Stehbunker," a punishment cell about three feet square in which prisoners could only stand or crouch and into which one to five prisoners were crammed with no food, no water, no light, and only the air that filtered through the cracks in the closed wooden door at floor level. The reader need only compare what Hoss wrote to the chronology at the back of this book to see where Hoss tries to protect himself. Hoss also hides the fact that he and his family never had to sacrifice their wants or needs because of the enormous treasure of food and clothing that the trainloads of Jews brought to Auschwitz. In the midst of starvation, disease, and death the Hoss family had everything. UParadise" is what Frau Hoss called Auschwitz. Even after her husband was promoted to Berlin, Frau Hoss stayed in her villa at Auschwitz.

Despite these and other omissions, the Hoss memoirs are remarkable in their graphic portrayal of many of the events at Auschwitz. Hoss's descriptions of the entire gassing procedure leave one shaking one's head and wondering how he could retell (and in many cases psychologically relive) these gruesome stories, especially since he was the cause of it all. Hoss acknowledges his part and simply states, History will mark me as the greatest mass murderer of all time." He never denies that he is, but simply attempts to report that, in spite of everything, "I still had a heart."

There is no doubt that from the very beginning of his capture Hoss realized that he would be executed. He states this in his autobiography. Therefore, no serious argument can be made that Hoss concocted the gassing stories to help the Allies find the major Nazi war criminals guilty, as some claim.

Steven J. Paskuly

{p. 25} Part I Memoirs {by Rudolph Hoss}

{p. 27} The Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Concentration Camp Auschwitz

In the summer of 1941, I am unable to recall the exact date, I was suddenly ordered by Himmler's adjutant to repon directly to the Reichsfuhrer SS1 in Berlin. Contrary to his usual custom, his adjutant was not in the room. Himmler greeted me with the following: "The Fuhrer has ordered the Final Solution of the Jewish question. We the SS have to carry out this order. The existing extermination sites in the East2 are not in a position to carry out these intended operations on a large scale. I have, therefore, chosen Auschwitz for this purpose. First of all, because of the advantageous transport facilities, and secondly, because it allows this area to be easily isolated and disguised. I had first thought of choosing a higher-ranking SS officer for this job so as to avoid any difficulties with someone who doesn't have the competence to deal with such a difficult assignment. You now have to carry out this assignment. It is to remain between the two of us. It is a hard and difficult job which requires your complete commitment, regardless of the difficulties which may arise. You will learn the further

1. In the German text Hoss almost always referred to Heinrich Himrnler by his title rather than his name. Himmler had the title of Reichsfiihrer der SS, the highest rank in the SS, which was abbreviated to RFSS. It would be equivalent to field marshal, or a five-star general in the U.S. Army.

2. Himmler was most likely referring to the special squads (caUed Einsatzgruppen) who were killing civilians in the Soviet Union, since there were no extermination centers in the East per se, in the Soviet Union. KL Auschwitz as Seen by the SS, Panstwowe Muzeum w Oswiecimiu (KL-PMO), 1978, p. 108. Contrary to what Richard Breitman contends in The Architect of Genocide. 1991, Hoss is not incorrect that it was 1941 that Himmler gave him the order to prepare for the Final Solution. The evidence that Breitman dismisses is monumental: the experimental gassings in Auschwitz in September 1941, the gassings at Majdanek by Globocnik in December 1941- the reference in the Wannsee Conference minutes to a "solution" having been found for those unable to work- and the first transport of Silesian Jews gassed in January 1942. These and hundreds of other pieces of evidence are overlooked by Breitman. Simply put, Breitman is wrong in his conclusion that it was not until the summer of 1942 that Hoss received the order from Himmler.

{p. 28} details through Major [Adolf] Eichmann of the RSHA [Reich Security Headquarters], who will soon visit you. The administrative departments involved will be notified by me at the appropriate time. You are sworn to the strictest silence regarding this order. Not even your superiors are allowed to know about this. After your meeting with Eichmann I want you to immediately send me the plans of the intended installations.

"The Jews are the eternal enemies of the German people and must be extminal. All the Jews within our reach must be annihilated during this war. If we do not succeed in destroying the biological foundation of Jewry now, then one day the Jews will destroy the German people."

After receiving this far-reaching order, I returned to Auschwitz immediately without reporting to my superiors at Oranienburg.

A short time after that Eichmann came to see me at Auschwitz. He revealed the secret plans of the police roundups in the individual countries. I cannot recall the exact sequence anymore. The Jews in eastem Upper Silesia were to be first, then the neighboring areas of the General Gouvernement [the southern part of Poland]. At the same time and according to their location, the Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia, and finally from the West, France, Belgium, and Holland, were to be sent to Auschwitz. He also mentioned to me the approximate numbers anticipated to be transported, but I don't recall the exact figures. We further discussed how the mass annihilation was to be carried out. Only gas was suitable since killing by shooting the huge numbers expected would be absolutely impossible and would also be a tremendous strain on the SS soldiers who would have to carry out the order as far as the women and children were concerned.

Eichmann told me about the killings by engine exhaust gas in the gas vans and how they had been used in the East up until now. But this method was not suitable in view of the expected mass transports to Auschwitz. We also discussed killing by carbon monoxide through the shower heads in the shower rooms, but this would also create a problem because too many intricate installations would be needed. The killing of the mentally ill was carried out in various places in Germany using this method.4 But

4. It was not only the mental patients, but also the crippled, invalids, and the chronically ill who were selected. A transport of 575 prisoners was escorted by Duty Officer Hossler to the mental hospital in Sonnenstein, where they were gassed in a bathhouse with carbon monoxide through the showers. RPMO, p. 109.

{p. 29} the production of such great quantities of gas for such large numbers of people would be a problem. We didn't reach any decision about this. Eichmann wanted to find a gas that was easy to produce and one that would require no special installations; he then would report back to me.5 We drove around the Auschwitz area to locate a suitable place. We thought the farmhouse at the northwest corner of Birkenau near planned Section III would be suitable.6 The house had been abandoned, and it was hidden from view by the surrounding trees and bushes and not too far from the railroad. The bodies could be buried in long, deep pits in the nearby meadows. We didn't think about burning them at this time. We calculated that in the space available in the farmhouse [later called Bunker I], approximately eight hundred people could be killed using a suitable gas after the building was made airight. We later found this to be the actual capacity. Eichmann was unable to tell me the precise starting time of the operation because everything was still being planned, and Himmler had not yet given the order to begin.

Eichmann returned to Berlin to report our meeting to Himmler. Several days later I sent a courier to Himmler with a detailed layout and an exact description of the designed installations. I never received a reply or a decision. Later on, Eichmann told me that Himmler agreed with my plan. At the end of November there was an official conference in Eichmann's Berlin office about the overall Jewish operation to which I was also invited. Eich mann's deputies reported the status of the police actions in the individual countries and about the difficulties that interfered with the execution of these operations: how those who were arrested were housed, the preparation of the transport trains, scheduling difficulties, and so on. I was not yet able to find out when the operation would begin. Eichmann still had not found a suitable gas.7

In the fall of 1941 a special secret order was issued to the POW camps by which the Russian politruks, commissars, and other political functionaries were selected by the Gestapo and moved to the nearest concentration camp to be killed. Small transports of this kind were continuously arriving at Auschwitz. They were shot in the gravel pits at the Monopol Factory or in the courtyard of Block II. While I was away on camp-related business, Captain Fritzsch, on his own initiative, employed a gas for the killing of

5. Judging from Hoss's memoirs, the visit must have been before September 3,1941 since the first mass murders with Cyclon B was on this date. KL-PMO, p. 110

6. This was later called Bunker I, although Hoss refers to it with other designations. It was the red farmhouse of Josef Wichaj and Rydzon, who were deported by the Nazis. KL-PMO, p. 110. Hoss uses the German word for abandoned to describe the empty farmhouse.

7. This was probably at the beginning of September 1941 because in his memoirs Hoss states, "During Eichmann's next visit I told him about the use of Cyclon B and we decided to use it for the mass extermination operations." KL-PMO, p. 111.

{p. 30} these Russian POWs. He crammed the Russians Into the individual cells in the basement [of Block II] and while using gasmasks he threw the Cyclon B gas into the cells, thereby causing their immediate death8. The gas called Cyclon B was supplied by the firm of Tesch and Stabenow and was used constantly for insect and rodent control. We always had a large supply of gas canisters available. At first only the employees of the firm of Tesch and Stabenow handled this poison gas, a prussic acid preparation, under the strictest safety measures. Later on some members of the Medical Corps9 were trained at the firm to carry out disinfection procedures, and it was these medics who then carried out disinfection and pest control. During Eichmann's next visit I reported all this to him, about how the Cyclon B was used, and we decided that for the future mass annihilations we would use this gas.

The killing of the above-mentioned Russian POWs using Cyclon B was continued, but no longer in Block II because it took at least two days to air out the building.

We therefore used the morgue of the crematory as the gassing facility.10 The doors were made airtight and we knocked some holes in the ceiling through which we could throw in the gas crystals.

But I remember only one transport of nine hundred Russian POWs who were gassed there. It took several days to burn their bodies.

No Russians were ever gassed in the above-mentioned farmhouse

8. The first attempt to kill people with Cyclon B gas at Auschwitz occurred in the basement of Block II on September 3, 1941. On September 2, 1941, Camp Commander (Lagerfahrer) SS Captain Karl Fritzsch selected nine prisoners to remain in the block out of the nineteen who were put into the cells in Block II the previous day. The next day the ten prisoners and some other prisoners were sent back to Block II and ordered to remove the beds from Block II. On September 3, 1941, the Medical Corps was told by the SS to bring 250 sick prisoners from the hospital blocks and put them into the cells (bunkers) of Block II. Afterwards some six hundred Soviet POWs were forced into the basement. The basement windows were covered up with earth. The SS men poured in the Cyclon B and closed the doors. On September 4, 1941, Duty Officer Palitzsch, wearing a gas mask, opened the doors and saw that some of the prisoners were still alive. More Cyclon B was thrown in and the doors were again closed. On the next evening, September 5, twenty prisoners from the penal colony were taken from Block 5 along with the sanitation orderlies from the hospital block and told that they would be doing some special work which they were not supposed to discuss with anyone, under pain of death. The prisoners were given gas masks and told to go into the basement of Block II and bring the bodies out into the courtyard between Blocks 10 and 11. They removed the military uniforms. The corpses were left in their underwear. Moving the bodies by wagons to the crematory lasted late into the night. KL-PMO, p. 92.

9. The Medical Corps in Auschwitz consisted of SS who were basically just sanitation orderlies. When the process of gassing became more sophisticated and disguised, the Medical Corps used trucks with Red Cross markings to bring the Cyclon B gas to the large crematories at Birkenau.

10. Hoss means Crematory I at Auschwitz itself. This is the only crematory let undestroyed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. It is located just across the road from the SS hospital building.

{p. 31} [Bunker I], which now had neen prepared for the extermination of the Jews.

I am unable to recall when the destruction of the Jews began - probably in September 1941, or perhaps not until January 1942. At first we dealt with the Jews from Upper Silesia These Jews were arrested by the Gestapo from Katowice and transported via the Auschwitz-Dziediez railroad and unloaded there. As far as I can recall, these transports never numbered more than a thousand persons.

A detachment of SS from the camp took charge of them at the railroad ramp, and the officer in charge marched them to the bunker [I} in two groups. This is what we called the extermination installation.

Their luggage remained on the ramp and was later brought between the DAW [German Armaments Works]12 and the railroad station.

The Jews had to undress at the bunker and were told that they would have to go into the delousing rooms. All of the rooms - there were five of them - were filled at the same time. The airtight doors were screwed tight, and the contents of the gas crystal canisters emptied into the rooms through special hatches.

After half an hour the doors were opened and the bodies were pulled out. Each room had two doors. They were then moved using small carts on special tracks to the ditches. The clothing was brought by trucks to the sorting place. All of the work was done by a special contingent of Jews [the Sonderkommando]. They had to help those who were about to die with the undressing, the filling up of the bunkers, the clearing of the bunkers, removal of the bodies, as well as digging the mass graves and, finally, covering the graves with earth. These Jews were housed separately from the other prisoners and, according to Eichmann's orders,13 they themselves were to be killed after each large extermination action.

After the first transports Eichmann brought an order from Himmler

11. The first mass murder of Jews brought from Upper Silesia took place in Januay 1942. Bunker I (the farmhouse) at Birkenau had already been prepared for the transports. The bodies were buried in a common grave in a nearby meadow. From the History of Auschwiz, 1967, PMO, p. 191.

12. DAW is the acronym for Deutsche Ausrilstungswerke, SS arms factories using prisoners from Auschwitz.

13. It is unlikely that Eichmann could or would give such orders since he was not in charge of the camps. The camp Kommandants were not answerable to Eichmann, but only to Himmler and Camp Administration and Supply (Pohl and Maurer). Eichmann stated to Israeli interrogators after his capture that he was never in a position to give such orders. He claimed that Hoss lied in his memoirs about his role in the Final Solution. Throughout his trial in Israel, which began April 11, 1961, Eichmann maintained that his department was only in charge of rounding up the Jews in the various areas in Europe and coordinating the transportation to the death camps. Jochen von Lang, Echmann Interrogated, 1983.

{p. 32} which specified that the gold teeth14 were to be pulled from the mouths of the bodies, and the hair was to be cut from the dead women.15 This work was also carried out by special groups of Jews. Supervising the extermination at that time was the camp commander [Captain Hans Aumeier] or the duty officer [Master Sergeant Gerhard Palitzsch].

The sick who could not be brought to the gassing rooms were simply killed with small caliber weapons by shooting them in the back of the neck. An SS doctor also had to be present. The gas was administered by trained medics.

During the spring of 1942 we were still dealing with small police actions. But during the summer the transports became more numerous and we were forced to build another extermination site. The farm area west of Crematories IV and V,6 which were built later, was chosen and prepared. Five barracks were built, two near Bunker I and three near Bunker II. Bunker II was the larger one. It held about 1,200 people. As late as the summer of 1942 the bodies were still buried in mass graves. Not until the end of the summer of 1942 did we start burning them. At first we put two thousand bodies on a large pile of wood. Then we opened up the mass graves and burned the new bodies on top of the old ones from the earlier burials. At first we poured waste oil over the bodies. Later on we used methanol. The burning went on continuously - all day and all night. By the end of November all the mass graves were cleared. The number of buried bodies in the mass graves was 107,000. This number contains not only the first Jewish transports which were gassed when we started the burnings, but also the bodies of the prisoners who died in the main Auschwitz camp during the winter of 1941-42 because the crematory was out of order. The prisoners who died at Birkenau [Auschwitz II] are included in that number.

During his visit in the summer of 1942, Himmler very carefully observed the entire process of annihilation. He began with the unloading at the ramps

14. After the gassings members of the Sonderkommando pulled the gold teeth from the victims. The gold was melted down into ingots, at first by SS, later by dentists. After Crematory 111 was built, a special laboratory was constructed to melt the gold. The gold ingots were sent to the SS Sanitation Head Office. KL-PMO, p. 114.

15. The female victims of the gas chambers had their hair cut off. The hair was then dried, in the upper floors of the crematories, packed in bags, and sent to Germany to be processed, where it was used in the production of felt and haircloth. KL-PMO, p. 114.

16. Hoss used a different system to number the gas chambers, which he labeled only crematories. Hoss counts the four gas chambers in Birkenau as numbers I to IV. The Auschwitz Museum counts all the gas chambers as follows: number I was the building across from the SS hospital in Auschwitz itself; numbers II through V were in Birkenau; the red farmhouse and the white farmhouse are called Bunkers I and II by Hoss respectively. Altogether there were seven buildings used for the Final Solution. The numbering used by Hoss has been changed in the text to facilitate the reader's understanding.

{p. 33} and completed he inspection as Bunker II was being cleared of the bodies. At that time there were no open-pit burnings. He did not complain about anything, but he didn't say anything about it either. Accompanying him were District Leader Bracht and SS General Schrnauser. Shortly after Himmler's visit, SS Colonel Blobel from Eichmann's office arrived and brought Himmler's order, which stated that all the mass graves were to be opened and all the bodies cremated. It further stated that all the ashes were to be disposed of in such a way that later on there would be no way to determine the number of those cremated.

Blobel had already conducted various experiments in Kulmhof [Chelmno],17 which tried to burn the bodies in various ways. He was ordered by Eichmann to show me the installations. I drove with Hossler to Chelmno for an inspection.18 Blobel had different auxiliary ovens built and used wood and leftover gasoline for the burnings. He also tried using dynamite to blow up the corpses, but he had very little success with this method. After the bones were ground up into dust in the bone mills, the ashes were scattered in nearby wooded areas.

SS Colonel Blobel had a standing order to find the location of all mass graves in the Eastern Sector and to eliminate them. His staff was working under a disguised designation called 1005.19 The actual work was done by a unit of Jews who were shot after completing their jobs. Concentration Camp Auschwitz had to constantly supply Jews for the 1005 unit.

17. Because of the shifting borders throughout history many cities and towns in Poland were named and renamed in German by the Prussian and the Austrian and, of course the Polish governments. The Nazis also renamed many Polish cities to make them sound German. Oswiecim is the real name of the town the Germans called Auschwitz. Where possible the editor has used the current Polish names to aid the reader in determining the location of these cities.

18. Hoss left on September 16, 1940, with Lieutenants Hossler and Dejaco from the SS garrison of Auschwitz KL-PMO, p. 116.

19. Hoss has confused the dates here. This occurred much later. The word Kommando was coined by the SS to refer to any work detail. The 1005 Kommando was called the "Death Brigade." Its job was to dig up the mass graves in the Lwow area and burn them to destroy any trace of the murders committed. KL-PMO, p. 116.

Himmler ordered all mass graves dug up and the corpses burned because of the discovery of seven mass graves containing the bodies of 4,143 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest in the Soviet Union six miles west of Smolensk. It was determined by thirteen forensic specialists that the murders had been committed no later than the beginnmg of the spring of 1940. The fact that the Soviet Union was not invaded until June 22, 1941, and that the German army only reached the Smolensk area in August 1941 indicates that it was the Soviets who murdered the Polish officers. With the exception of a Bulgarian, none of the forensic specialists changed his 1943 signed declarations after the war. A signed declaration dated May 22, 1945, by an American colonel named van Vliet, who was a prisoner of war in Germany, declared, "The bodies wore winter uniforms. The boots and clothing were in excellent condition and showed no signs of wear." Van Vliet's conclusion was that if the Poles were killed by the Germans the clothes and boots would have shown at least two years wear. The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of World War 11, 1972, pp. 1416-25.

{p. 34} During my visit to Chelmno I also saw the airtight trucks used to kill prisoners with carbon monoxide gas [exhaust gas from the truck engiine]. The officer in charge of that unit, however, described this method as unreliable. The gas supply was erratic and often not enough to kill. I could not learn how many bodies were in the mass graves at Chelmno, or how many had already been cremated.

Blobel had a fairly accurate knowledge of the number of mass graves in the eastem districts, but he was sworn to the greatest secrecy in the matter.

Originally, all the Jews transported to Auschwitz by the authority of Eichmann's office were to be destroyed without exception, according to Himmler's orders. This also applied to the Jews from Upper Silesia.20 But during the arrival of the first transports of German Jews, the order was given that all able-bodied men and women were to be separated and put to work in the arms factories. This occurred before the construction of the women's camp,21 since the need for a women's camp in Auschwitz only arose as a result of this order.

Because of the steadily growing arms industry, which was developing extensively in the camps, and also because of the recent use of prisoners in the arms factories outside the camps, a serious shortage of prisoners suddenly made its impact on us. This was something new because before this Kommandants had to think of ways to keep their prisoners occupied.

The Jews, however, were only to be employed in the Auschwitz camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau was to become a Jewish camp exclusively. Prisoners of all other nationalities were to be transferred to other camps. This order was never completely carried out, and later Jews even worked in the arms factories outside the camp because of a shortage of workers.

The selection of the able-bodied Jews was supposed to be made by SS doctors, but it often happened that officers of the protective custody camp and of the Labor Department themselves selected the prisoners without my knowledge or even my approval. This was the cause of constant friction between the SS doctors and the officers in the Labor Department. Differing opinions developed among the officers in Auschwitz and were further inflamed by the contradictory interpretations of Himmler's orders by the headquarters in Berlin. For security reasons the Gestapo headquarters had the greatest interest in the destruction of as many Jews as possible.

20. The first transports of Jews from Upper Silesia arrived in January 1942. KL-PMO,

21. Hoss is mistaken here, since the women's camp in Birkenau, section B Ia, was from as early as August 1942. The first transports from concentration camps in Germany did not arrive until October 1942. The transports of civilian Jews from Germany proper did not begin until February 1943. KL-PMO, p. 117.

{p. 35} The Reichsartz [medical section] SS established the policy of selection and believed that only Jews who were completely fit and able to work should be selected. The weak, the old, and those who were relatively healthy would soon become incapable of work, which would cause a further deterioration in the general standard and an unnecessary increase in the hospital accommodations, requiring further medical personnel and medicines, and all for no purpose, since they would all be killed in the end.

The Economic Administration Headquarters [Pohl and Maurer] was only interested in gathering the largest possible labor force to be employed in the arms factories, regardless of the fact that these people would later become incapable of working. This conflict of interest was further sharpened by the immensely increased demands for prisoner labor made by the Ministry of Supply and the Todt Organization [ministry of armaments]. Himmler was always promising both of these departments numbers which could never be supplied. [Colonel] Maurer was in the difficult position of being able to only partially fulfill the insistent demands of the departments referred to and therefore was perpetually harassing the labor office to provide him with the greatest possible number of workers.

It was impossible to get Himmler to make a definite decision on this matter.

I believed that only the strong and healthy Jews should be selected to work.

The sorting process went as follows: The railway cars were unloaded one after another. After depositing their baggage, the Jews had to individually pass in front of an SS doctor, who decided on their physical fitness as they marched past him. Those who were considered able-bodied were immediately escorted into the camp in small groups.

On average in all transports between 25 and 30 percent were found fit for work, but this figure fluctuated considerably. The figure for Greek Jews, for example, was only 15 percent, while there were transports from Slovakia with a fitness rate of 100 percent.22 Jewish doctors and administrative personnel were taken into the camp without exception.

It became apparent during the first cremations in the open air that in the long run it would not be possible to continue in that manner. During bad weather or when a strong wind was blowing, the stench of burning flesh was carried for many miles and caused the entire area to talk about the burning of Jews, despite official counter-propaganda. It is true that all members of the SS detailed for the extermination were bound to secrecy,

22. In spite of the sound physical condition of the Slovakian Jews, of the 3,243 Jews sent to the canp, only 227 were still alive on August 15, 1942. KL-PMO, p. 120. (See appendix II for more details.)

{p. 36} but even the most severe pumshment was unable to stop their love of gossip.

The anti-aircraft defenses protested against the fires because they could be seen from great distances at night. Nevertheless, the burnings had to continue, even at night, unless further transports were to be refused. The schedule of individual operations which was set at a conference of the Ministry of Communications had to be rigidly adhered to in order to avoid congestion and confusion with military rail transports. It was for these reasons that the energetic planning and construction of the two large crematories [II and III] and the building of the two smaller crematories [IV and V] were completed in 1943.23 Another crematory was planned which would have exceeded the others in size, but it was never completed because in the fall of 1944 Himmler called an immediate halt to the extermination of the Jews.24

The two large crematories were built in the winter of 1942-43 and brought into service in the spring of 1943. Each had five ovens with three doors [retorts] per oven and could cremate about two thousand bodies in less than twenty-four hours. Technical difficulties made it impossible to increase the capacity. Attempts to do this caused severe damage to the installations and on several occasions they were unable to function. Crematories [II and III] both had underground undressing rooms and underground gas chambers in which the air could be completely ventilated. The bodies were taken to the ovens on the floor above by an elevator. The [two] gas chambers could hold three thousand people, but this number was never achieved, since the individual transports were never that large.

The two smaller crematories [IV and V] were capable of burning about 1,500 bodies in twenty-four hours, according to the calculations made by the construction company called Topf of Erfurt. Because of the wartime shortage of materials, the builders were forced to economize during the construction of Crematories [IV and Vl] They were built above ground and the ovens were not as solidly constructed. It soon became apparent, however, that the poor construction of these two ovens, each with four retorts, did not meet the requirements. Crematory [IV] failed completely after a short time and later was not used at all.25 Crematory [V] had to

23. The dates given by Hoss are incorrect. Of the two large gas chambers, Crematory II was completed on March 31, 1943, Crematory III on June 25, 1943. The two smaller gas chamber crematories, IV and V, were completed on March 22, 1943, and April 4,1943, respectively. KL-PMO, p. 121.

24. According to evidence provided by SS Colonel Kurt Becher, Himmler made this decision on November 26,1944. KL-PMO, p. 122.

25. Hoss fails to mention that a revolt by the Sonderkommando erupted on October 9, 1944, resulting in the complete destruction of Crematory IV. PMO.

Filip Miiller states in Auschwitz Inferno, 1979, p. 155, that the revolt of the Sonderkommando in Crematory IV took place on October 7, 1944.

{p. 37} be repeatedly shut down, since after its fires had been burning for four to six weeks the ovens or the chimneys burned out. The gassed bodies were mostly burned in pits behind Crematory [V].

The provisional building [the red farmhouse] was demolished when work began on building section [B] III in Birkenau.

[Gas Chamber] II [the white farmhouse], later designated Bunker V, was used up until the last and was also kept as a standby when breakdowns occurred in Crematories [II or III]. When larger numbers of transports were received, the gassing was carried out by day in Crematory V, while Crematories I to IV were used for the transports that arrived during the night. There was no limit to the number of bodies that could be burned at [the white farmhouse] as long as the cremations could be carried out both day and night.26 Because of enemy air raids, no further cremations were allowed during the night after 1944. The highest total figure of people gassed and cremated in twenty-four hours was slightly more than nine thousand. This figure was reached in the summer of 1944, during the action in Hungary,27 using all the installations except Crematory [IV]. On that day five trains arrived because of delays on the rail lines, instead of three, as was expected, and in addition the railroad cars were more crowded than usual.

The crematories were built at the end of the two main roads in the Birkenau camp. First of all, this was done so as not to increase the area of the camp and with it all the safety precautions required, and secondly, so that they would not be too far from the camp since there were plans to use the gas chambers and undressing rooms as bathhouses when the extermination program was completed.

The buildings were to be screened from view by a wall or hedges, but lack of material prevented this from being done. As a temporary measure, all extermination buildings were hidden under camouflage nets.

The three railway tracks between Sectors [B] I and [B] II in Birkenau were supposed to be rebuilt as a railroad station with a roof. The railroad was to be extended to Crematories [IV} and [V], so that the unloading process would also be hidden from the eyes of unauthorized people. Again

26. Hoss means here that the gassing could go on continuously because the open-pit burning was not limited as were the ovens.

27. This was also called Aktion Hoss because although Hoss was now the deputy inspector of concentration camps, with his office in Oranienburg, Himmler ordered him back to Auschwit to oversee the destruction of the Hungarian Jews. He arrived on May 8, 1944, and assumed the duties of the Kommandant of the garrison and began preparing the installations at Birkenau to efficiently murder the Hungarian Jews. Crematory V was made operational again, five burning pits were dug near the crematory Bunker II was reactivated because it had not been in recent use, a hut (small barracks) for undressing was also built and the railway ramp with a three-track siding was constructed in Birkenau. KL-PMO p. 123.

{p. 38} the shortage of materials prevented this plan from being completed.

Because of Himmler's increasing insistence about the employment of prisoners in the arms factories, [SS General] Pohl found himself compelled to resort to using Jews who had become unfit for work. The order was given that if the Jews could be made fit and employable within six weeks, they were to be given special care and food.28 Until then all Jews who had become unable to work were gassed with the next transport or killed by injection if they happened to be in the infirmary. As far as Auschwitz-Birkenau was concerned, this order was sheer idiocy. We lacked everything. There were practically no medical supplies. The housing was such that there was scarcely even room for the most seriously ill. The food was completely insufficient, and every month the Ministry of Food cut the amount of supplies still further. But all protests were useless, and every effort had to be made to carry out the order. The results of the overcrowding of the healthy prisoners could no longer be avoided. The general standard of health was lowered, and diseases spread like a forest fire. As a result of this order the death rate shot up and general living conditions deteriorated tremendously. I do not believe that a single sick Jew was ever made fit again to work in the arms factories.

Jews who were taken to the camp by order of Eichmann's office - RSHA IV B4 - were designated as "Transport-Juden." The reports that announced the arrival had the following notice: "This transport is to be included in the given orders and is subject to special treatment [Sonderbehandlung - SB]. The Jews previous to this, i.e., before the orders for extermination were issued, were labeled "Schutzhaft" [protective custody], or Jews who belonged to one of the other categories of prisoners.29

During my earlier interrogations I gave the number of 2.5 million Jews30 who arrived at Auschwitz to be exterminated. This figure was given to me by Eichmann, who had given this figure to my superior, SS General Gliicks, when Eichmann was ordered to make a report to Himmler shortly before Berlin was surrounded. Eichmann and his deputy, Gunther, were the only ones who had the necessary information to calculate the total number of Jews annihilated. According to the orders given by Himmler, all information concerning the number of victims involved was to be burned

28. These orders were issued as late as December 9 and 14, 19441 when the exterminations had already been interrupted because of the daeriorating Gerrnan front lines and the growing need for workers in the arms factories. KL-PMO, p. 124.

29. This paragraph was omitted in the German and previous English editions.

30. According to the Auschwitz Museum there is no exact number of the victims in Auschwitz-Birkenau and its more than thirty subcamps. The Soviet government has stated that the total number of victims is near four million, while the Auschwitz Museum, under the auspices of the Polish government, officially states the four million figure. Museum historians privately estimate that there were between 2.8 and 3.5 million victims.

{the official Auschwitz-Birkenau figure has since been greatly reduced - Peter M.}

{p. 39} after each action at Auschwitz.

As head of Department D I, I personally destroyed every bit of evidence which could be found in my office. The other department heads did the same.

According to Eichmann, Himmler and Gestapo Headquarters had also destroyed all their files.

Only his personal notes contained this information. It is possible that because of the negligence of some departments a few isolated documents, teleprinter messages, or wireless messages remain undestroyed, but they could not give enough information to make a calculation.

I myself never knew the total number, and I have nothing to help me arrive at an estimate.

I can only remember the figures involved in the larger actions, which were repeated to me by Eichmann or his deputies.

From Upper Silesia and the General Gouvernement ..250,000
Germany and Theresienstadt .......................100,000
Holland ..........................................95,000
Belgium ..........................................20,000 France............................................110,000
Greece ............................................65,000 Hungary............................................400,000
Slovakia ............................................90,000
[Total 1,130,000]31

I can no longer remember the figures for the smaller actions, but they were insignificant by comparison with the numbers given above.32

I regard a total of 2.5 million as far too high. Even Auschwitz had limits to its destructive capabilities.

Figures given by former prisoners are figments of their imagination and have no foundation in fact.

Action Reinhardt was the code name given to the collecting, sorting, and use of all articles acquired as the result of the transports of the Jews and their extermination.

Any member of the SS who laid his hands on this Jewish property was punished with death on Himmler's order. Personal property valued in the millions was seized.

31. The totaled number is provided by the editor, not Hoss. (See appendix II for more detailed information.)

32. Hoss fails to mention the following countries from which Jews were transported: Austria, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, the Soviet Union, Trieste, the Ukraine (in Russia), and Italy. KL-PMO, p. 128. These were by no means small actions.

{p. 40} An immense amount of property was stolen by members of the SS, the police, also by the prisoners, civilian workers, and by railway personnel. A great deal of this still lies hidden and buried in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp area

When the Jewish transports arrived and were unloaded, their luggage was left on the platform until the Jews had been taken to the extermination buildings or into the camp. During the early days all luggage would then be brought by a transport Kommando to the sorting office called Canada I,33 where it would be sorted and disinfected. The clothing of those who had been gassed in Bunkers I and II, or in Crematories Il to V, was also brought to the sorting office.

By 1942 Canada I could no longer keep up with the sorting even though new huts and sheds were constantly being added and the prisoners were sorting day and night. Although the number of prisoners employed was constantly increased and several trucks [often as many as twenty] were loaded daily with the sorted items, the piles of unsorted luggage kept on growing. So in 1942 the construction of the Canada II warehouse was begun at the west end of Sector II in Birkenau [B IIg]. Construction was also begun on the extermination buildings and a bathhouse for new arrivals.34 Thirty newly built barracks were crammed to capacity right after their completion, while mountains of unsorted items piled up outside between the buildings.35 In spite of the enlarged sorting Kommandos, it was impossible to complete the job during the course of the individual actions, which always lasted from four to six weeks. It was only during the longer intervals that some semblance of order was achieved.

Clothing and footwear were examined for hidden valuables, although hastily in view of the quantities involved. They were then stored or handed over to the camp to supplement the inmates' clothing. Later on they were also sent to other camps. A considerable part of the clothing was passed to welfare organizations for resettlers and then later to victims of air raids. Large, important arms factories received considerable quantities of these

33. There were two Canadas. Canada I was near the Auschwitz camp, Canada II was located outside the barracks area across from the sauna and shower building on the west side of the Birkenau camp. The term Canada was coined by the prisoners because the nation of Canada meant wealth and prosperity.

34. This building was used as a shower and sauna, This was not for the comfort of the prisoners but more to keep the spread of disease under control, since the typhus epidemic in 1942 resulted in thousands of prisoners and even some SS dying.

35. Canada Il consisted of thirty-five barracks. On January 23, 1945, five days before the liberation of the camp by the Soviet army, the SS set fire to thirty storehouses crammed full with the property of the murdered millions. The barracks burned for several days. In six of the partially destroyed barracks 1,185,345 men's suits and women's outfits, 43,255 pairs of shoes, 13,694 carpets, and huge quantities of hairbrushes, shaving brushes, and other articles used in everyday life were also found. KL-PMO, p. 129.

{p. 41} stored items for their foreign workers.

Blankets and mattresses, etc., were also sent to the welfare organizations. When the camp itself required these articles they were kept to complete the inventory, but other camps also received large shipments.

Valuables were taken over by a special section of the camp command and sorted by experts. A similar procedure was followed with the money that was found.

The jewelry was usually of great value, especially when its Jewish owners came from the West. Among these items could be found precious stones worth thousands of dollars; priceless gold and platinum watches set with diamonds; rings, earrings, and necklaces which were quite rare. Money from all countries amounted in the thousands of dollars. Often tens of thousands of dollars, mostly in thousand-dollar bills, were found on individuals. They used every possible hiding place: their clothing, their luggage, and even their bodies.

When the sorting process that followed each major operation had been completed, the valuables and money were packed into trucks and taken to the Economic Administration Headquarters office in Berlin and then finally to the Reichsbank, where a special department dealt exclusively with items taken during the actions against the Jews. On one occasion Eichmann told me that the jewelry and currency were sold in Switzerland, and that the entire Swiss jewelry market was dominated by these sales.

Ordinary watches by the thousands were sent to Sachsenhausen. A large watchmaker's shop had been set up there which employed hundreds of prisoners and was directly administered by Department D II [Colonel Maurer]. The watches were sorted and repaired in the workshop. The majority of these watches were later sent for use by SS and regular army troops at the front lines.

The gold taken from the teeth was melted into bars by the dentists in the SS hospital and sent monthly to the Sanitary Office Headquarters.

Precious stones of great value were also found hidden in the teeth that had fillings.

The hair cut from the women prisoners was sent to a firm in Bavaria to be used for the war effort.

Unusable clothing was sent for salvage; likewise shoes and boots were taken apart and reused as much as possible. What was left over was made into leather dust.

The treasures brought in by the Jews gave rise to unavoidable difficulties in the camp itself. The newly arriving treasure was demoralizing for the SS, who were not always strong enough to resist the temptation of these valuables which lay within such easy reach. Not even the death penalty or a severe prison sentence was enough to stop them.

{p. 42} The arrlval of these Jews with their wealth offered undreamed-of opportunities to the other prisoners.36 Most of the escapes that occurred were probably connected with these circumstances. With the help of this easily acquired money, watches, rings, etc., anything could be arranged with the SS guard troops or civilian workers. Alcohol, tobacco, food, false papers, guns, and ammunition were all in a day's work. In Birkenau the male prisoners obtained access to the women's camp during the night by bribing some of the female guards. This kind of thing naturally affected the discipline of the entire camp. Those who had valuables could get better jobs for themselves and were able to buy the good will of the Kapos and block elders, and even arrange for a lengthy stay in the hospital, where they would be given the best food. Not even the strictest supervision could change this state of affairs. Jewish gold was a catastrophe for the camp.

As far as I know, in addition to Auschwitz, the other extermination centers for Jews were as follows:

Chelmno near Litzmannstadt ..Engine exhaust gas
Treblinka on the Bug ........Engine exhaust gas
Sobibor near Lublin .........Engine exhaust gas
Belzec near Lemberg .........Engine exhaust gas
Lublin [Majdanek] .................Cyclon B 37

I personally have seen only Chelmno and Treblinka. Chelmno was no longer being used, but I saw the entire operation at Treblinka.

Treblinka was built directly near the railroad tracks and had several chambers capable of holding hundreds of people. The Jews went straight into the gas chambers without undressing by way of a platform which was level with the railroad cars. An engine room equipped with various types of engines taken from large trucks and tanks had been built next to the gas chambers. These were started up and the exhaust gases were

36. Only a very small percentage of the prisoners had access to the wealth in Canada However, many items were smuggled out, despite the searches by the SS, to help other prisoners with medicine and also to buy favors from the guards. It was not uncommon to pay the SS guards in order to gain passage to the women's camp or even into areas off limits to certain prisoners. Prisoners such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and locksmiths were able to move between the barbed wire areas under the pretext of having to repair something. This is how messages and "organized" property spread throughout the camp. The word organize" in camp terminology meant to steal or take for one's own use. The SS themselves were in a far better position to "organize" money and jewelry since no prisoner would dare tell another SS.

37. The Majdanek concentration camp near Lublin was first built for POWs in the fall of 1941. By April 1942 Jews were being transported there to be killed. The first installation for mass extermination using Cyclon B began in May and June 1942. The total number of people murdered at Majdanek was over 360,000. About 25 percent of these were killed in the gas chambers. KL-PMO, p. 132.

{p. 43} fed by pipes into the gas chambers, thereby killing the people inside. lne process was continued for more than a half an hour until everything was silent inside the rooms. In an hour's time, the gas chambers were opened and the bodies were taken out, undressed, and burned on a frame made from metal railroad tracks.

The fires were fed with wood, and the bodies were sprayed every once in a while with used oil. During my visit everyone who was gassed was dead. But I was told that the performance of the engines was not always consistent, so that the exhaust gases were often not strong enough to kill everyone in the chambers. Many of them were only unconscious and had to be finished off by shooting them. I had heard the same story in Chelmno, and I was also told by Eichmann that these problems had occurred in other places.

Another problem which arose in Chelmno was that the Jews sometimes broke through the sides of the trucks and attempted to escape.

Experience had shown that the prussic acid called Cyclon B caused death with far greater speed and certainty, especially if the rooms were kept dry and airtight with the people packed closely together, and provided they were fitted with as large a number of intake vents as possible. So far as Auschwitz is concerned, I have never known or heard of a single person being found alive when the gas chambers were opened half an hour after the gas had been poured in.38

The extermination process in Auschwitz took place as follows: Jews selected for gassing were taken as quietly as possible to the crematories. The men were already separated from the women. In the undressing chamber, prisoners of the Sonderkommandos, who were specially chosen for this purpose, would tell them in their own language that they were going to be bathed and deloused, and that they must leave their clothing neatly together, and, above all, remember where they put them, so that they would be able to find them again quickly after the delousing. The Sonderkommando had the greatest interest in seeing that the operation proceeded smoothly and quickly.39 After undressing, the Jews went into the gas cham-

38. Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian prisoner who worked as Mengele's assistant and had access to the gas charnber areas, relates a story of a teenage girl who miraculously survived the gassing process. Unconscious, yet still alive, she was revived and fed; then came the question of what to do with her. SS Master Sergeant Mussfeld happened by and discovered Nyiszli and the Sonderkommando occupied with helping the girl to full consciousness. After a discussion with Nyiszli as to what to do with the girl, Mussfeld carried her to the furnace room hallway where another SS soldier shot her to death. Miklos Nyiszli, Auschwitz, 1960, pp. 88-96.

39. Although the Sonderkommando were themselves killed off after a period of time, enough veterans of different Kommandos survived because they were transferred from one to the other. They knew very well from past experiences that to try to inform the victims would only lead to a bloody end. Many did try to whisper to the victims what lay ahead, {footnote continued on p. 44}

{p. 44} ber, which was furnished wlth showers and water pipes and gave a realistic impression of a bathhouse.

The women went in first with their children, followed by the men, who were always fewer in number. This part of the operation nearly always went smoothly since the Sonderkommando would always calm those who showed any anxiety or perhaps even had some clue as to their fate. As an additional precaution, the Sonderkommando and an SS soldier always stayed in the chamber until the very last moment.

The door would be screwed shut and the waiting disinfection squads would immediately pour the gas [crystals] into the vents in the ceiling of the gas chamber down an air shaft which went to the floor. This ensured the rapid distribution of the gas. The process could be observed through the peep hole in the door. Those who were standing next to the air shaft were killed immediately. I can state that about one-third died immediately. The remainder staggered about and began to scream and struggle for air. The screaming, however, soon changed to gasping and in a few moments everyone lay still. After twenty minutes at the most no movement could be detected. The time required for the gas to take effect varied according to weather conditions and depended on whether it was damp or dry, cold or warm. It also depended on the quality of the gas, which was never exactly the same, and on the composition of the transports, which might contain a high proportion of healthy Jews, or the old and sick, or children. The victims became unconscious after a few minutes, according to the distance from the air shaft. Those who screamed and those who were old, sick, or weak, or the small children died quicker than those who were healthy or young.

The door was opened a half an hour after the gas was thrown in and the ventilation system was turned on. Work was immediately started to remove the corpses. There was no noticeable change in the bodies and no sign of convulsions or discoloration. Only after the bodies had been left lying for some time - several hours - did the usual death stains appear where they were laid. Seldom did it occur that they were soiled with feces. There were no signs of wounds of any kind. The faces were not contorted.

The Sonderkommando now set about removing the gold teeth and cutting the hair from the women. After this, the bodies were taken up by an elevator and laid in front of the ovens, which had meanwhile been

{footnote 39 continued} but were looked at in total disbelief. Although there were some riots during the undressing they only added to the horror because the SS would beat or shoot to death anyone who showed the slightest indication that they might cause problems. Besides, how brave can one be when one is naked and the oppressor is clothed and armed? The psychology of the undressing phase helped to cow the groups of people. Massed together in their nakedness, clinging to their children or parents, they were in no position to revolt.

{p. 45} fired up. Depending on the size of the bodies, up to three corpses cowa be put in through one oven door at the same time. The time required for cremation also depended on the number of bodies in each retort, but on average it took twenty minutes. As previously stated, Crematories II and III could cremate two thousand bodies in twenty-four hours, but a higher number was not possible without causing damage to the installations. Crematories IV and V should have been able to cremate 1,500 bodies in twenty-four hours, but as far as I know this figure was never reached.40

During the period when the fires were kept continuously burning without a break, the ashes fell through the grates and were constantly removed and crushed to powder. The ashes were taken by trucks to the Vistula [River], where they immediately dissolved and drifted away. The ashes taken from the burning pits near Bunker II and from Crematory V were handled in the same way.

The process of destruction in Bunkers I and II was exactly the same as in the crematories, except that the effects of the weather on the operation were more noticeable.

The entire operation of the extermination process was performed by the Jewish Sonderkommando.

They carried out their gruesome task with a dumb indifference. Their one goal was to finish the work as quickly as possible so that they could have a longer period of time to search the clothing of the gassed victims for something to eat or smoke. Although they were well-fed and given many additional allowances, they could often be seen shifting corpses with one hand while they chewed on something they were holding in the other. Even when they were doing the most revolting work of digging out and burning the corpses buried in the mass graves, they never stopped eating.

Even the cremation of their close relatives failed to shake them.41

When I went to Budapest in the summer of 1943 and called on Eichmann, he told me about the future actions which had been planned for

40. According to expert evidence by Dr. Roman Dawidowski, professor at the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy in Cracow, the average number of bodies cremated within twenty-four hours in the thirty ovens of the two largest crematories was about five thousand. The figure of three thousand could be reached in smaller Crematories IV and V. This total allows for a break of three hours in every twenty-four-hour period to allow for deslagging the generators and because of other, smaller stoppages caused by the constant use. Similar numbers were given as evidence by eyewitness Sonderkommando members, namely Henryk Tauber and Alter Feinsilber, and also by Stanislaw Kankowski. KL-PMO, p. 134.

41. According to eyewitness accounts by Filip Milller and others who worked in the Sonderkommando and as revealed in the film Shoah, the men who worked were not without feelings. Milller describes how they were initially beaten by their SS overseers or Kapos if they allowed emotion to affect their work. Oftentimes, at the end of the day, Kaddish was said for those who were exterminated. As one prisoner stated, "You could get used to anything after a while in Auschwitz, except the gnawing hunger."

{p. 46} During that period there were a little more than 200,000 Jews from the Carpathian Ukraine who were detained there and housed in some brickworks while awaiting transport to Auschwitz.

According to the estimate from the Hungarian police who had carried out the arrests, Eichmann expected to receive about three million Jews from Hungary.

The arrests and transportation should have been completed by 1943, but because of the Hungarian government's political difficulties, the date was always being postponed.42

In particular the Hungarian army, or rather the senior officers, were opposed to the extradition of these people and gave most of the Jewish men a refuge in the labor companies of the front line divisions, thus keeping them out of the grasp of the police.

When in the fall of 1944 an action was started in Budapest itself, only old and sick Jewish men remained.

Altogether there were probably not more than half a million Jews transported out of Hungary.

The next country on the list was Rumania. According to the reports from his representative in Bucharest, Eichmann expected to get about four million Jews from there.

Negotiations with the Rumanian authorities, however, were likely to be difficult. The anti-Semitic elements wanted the extermination of the Jews to be carried out in their own country. There had already been serious anti-Jewish rioting, and Jews who were caught had been thrown into the deep and isolated ravines of the Carpathian Mountains and killed. A section of the government, however, was in favor of transporting unwanted Jews to Germany.

In the meantime, Bulgaria was to follow with an estimated 2.5 million Jews. The authorities were agreeable to transporting the Jews, but they wanted to wait for the results of the negotiations with Rumania.

In addition, Mussolini was supposed to have promised the extradition of the Italian Jews and those from the Italian-occupied part of Greece, although not even an estimate had been made of their numbers. However,

42. The "political difficulties" that Hoss refers to is the Hungarian government's refusal to allow the SS to transport the Hungarian Jews out of Hungary. There were Hungarian Nazis who attemped to aid the SS, but by and large there was a lack of cooperation. In addition, Admiral Miklos Horthy was already attempting to sue for a separate peace with the Allies, forcing Hitler to act quickly and occupy Hungary still further with German troops. Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were saved from Auschwitz by the heroic efforts of Raoul Wallenberg and others, including many Hungarians, such as Tibor Baranski, now given the title of Righteous Gentile, as related by Harvey Rosenfeld in Raoul Wallenberg - Angel of Rescue (Prometheus Books), 1982.

{p. 47} the Vatican, the royal family, and consequently all those opposed to Mussolini wanted to prevent these Jews from being surrendered no matter what the cost.

Eichmann did not count on getting these Jews.

Finally there was Spain. Influential circles were approached by German representatives concerning the question of getting rid of the Jews. But Franco and his followers were against it. Eichmann had little faith in being able to arrange for their extradition.

The course taken by the war destroyed these plans and saved the lives of millions of Jews.43

Cracow, November 1946 [signed] Rudolf Hoss

43. The millions that Hoss refers to are contradicted by the official minutes of the infarnous Wannsee Conference of January 20,1942. (See appendix III.)

{p. 97} 16

Experiences in Sachsenhausen

{p. 106} Before the [1936] Olympic Games the streets were cleaned of beggars and bums, who incidentally were sent for reeducation to the workhouses or the concentration camps, and also all the prostitutes and homosexuals were removed from the cities and bathhouses. They were to be reeducated in the concentration camps for useful work. Even though there were as many homosexuals in Sachsenhausen as in Dachau, the homosexuals had become a problem in the camp. The Kommandant and the camp commander believed that the best way to handle them was to separate them into all the barracks of the entire camp. I did not agree because I remembered them from my years in prison. And it didn't take long for the reports about homosexual activities to flow back from all the blocks. Punishing them didn't change a thing. The epidemic spread. On my suggestion, all homosexuals were put together and assigned a block senior who knew how to handle them. They were also sent to work isolated from the other prisoners, where they pulled the big iron street roller for a long time.

Some of the prisoners from other categories who were also addicted to this habit were transferred to them. With one stroke the homosexual epidemic ended. Even though now and then this unnatural activity took place, they were only isolated cases.2 In their barracks they were so carefully watched that it was impossible to engage in these activities.

I still can remember one incredible case.

A Rumanian prince who lived in Munich with his mother had become a public disgrace because of his unnatural behavior. In spite of all the political and social considerations shown him, the publicity which he brought on himself had become intolerable. He was sent to Dachau. The police thought that his excessive sexual wickedness had made him disgusted and bored with women, and that he had turned to homosexuality in order to get a new thrill. Himmler believed that hard work and the strict life in a concentration camp would soon cure him.

The minute he arrived he attracted my attention without my knowing what was wrong with him. The way his eyes roamed everywhere, the way he jumped at the slightest noise, and his feminine, dancer-like movements made me suspect that he was a true homosexual. He started to cry when the Kommandant barked at him in a very harsh tone as he was being presented to the Kommandant, as all new prisoners were. He didn't want to shower because he said he was ashamed to undress. We discovered rather quickly why, when he undressd. His entire body, from his neck to his wrists and

2. Hoss only believed this. All that happened was that they became extremely careful and cunning.

{p. 107} ankles, was tattooed wltn pornographic pictures. these tattoos depicted every kind of sexual perversion that the human mind could possibly invent, even, curiously, normal sexual intercourse with women. He was a living picture book. Researchers of human sexuality would have gotten some new and unusual material for their research. During his questioning, he admitted that he had been tattooed in every seaport in Europe and America.

He became sexually aroused, especially when someone touched him, as when his sexual tattoos were being photographed by the police. All tattoo marks had to be recorded for the state criminal police files. I told his room senior that he was personally responsible for this prisoner and that he was never to let him out of his sight. After a few hours I went to check on this strange character, and I was immediately approached by the room senior, who begged me to relieve him of this responsibility. He said that the newcomer was truly driving him crazy. The prince stood in front of the stove the entire time, just staring off into nowhere. When anyone came near him or just touched him in order to move him out of the way, he became sexually aroused and began to masturbate. I took him to the doctor. As the doctor began to ask him questions about his strange condition, he became aroused again. He explained that since his earliest childhood he had suffered from very strong sexual impulses he could never completely satisfy, no matter what he did. He was constantly looking for new ways to try to satisfy these impulses.

The doctor prepared a report for Himmler which stated that this prisoner should be in a nursing home and not in a concentration camp. The doctor reported that any attempt to cure him by hard work was doomed to fail from the start. He sent the report to Himmler and in the meantime the prince was sent to work as had been ordered. He was given the job of moving sand in a wheelbarrow, but he could barely lift the shovel full of sand. He collapsed just trying to push an empty wheelbarrow. I had him taken back to my office and reported all this to the Kommandant.

The Kommandant wanted to see this the next day with his own eyes, since Himmler had ordered that this man must work. The following day the prince was staggering so much that he could hardly get to the sand pit, which was not very far away. Even Loritz now realized that work was out of the question for this man. So he was taken back to his room and put to bed. This was also a mistake, because he was constantly masturbating. The doctor pleaded with him as if he was a sick little child. It was all useless. They tied down his hands, but even this could not be done for very long. They gave him sedatives and cold packs, but this too was useless, since he was becoming weaker and weaker. In spite of his weakness he still tried to crawl out of bed to reach the other prisoners. He was put under arrest, as it was becoming impossible to allow him in

{p. 108} the camp with others, while we awaited Himmler's decision. He died two days later while masturbating. He had been in the camp for a total of five weeks.

Himmler ordered an official court autopsy and a detailed report, which was to be sent to him. Much to my regret, I had to be there at the autopsy. The examination revealed that he was completely run down physically, but there was nothing abnormal. The professor from the Munich Judicial Court of Medicine who performed the autopsy had never seen anything like this case in all his many years of practice.

I was present when the Kommandant showed the prince's body to his mother. The mother said that his death was a blessing for the both of them because his uncontrolled sexual behavior had made life impossible for everyone. She remarked that she had consulted the most famous specialists in Europe without any success. He had run away from every nursing home and had even spent some time in a monastery, and even there he could not be stopped. In her despair she even begged him to commit suicide, but he didn't have the courage to do it. At least now he would be at peace. Even now cold shivers run through me as I recall this case.3

From the beginning the homosexuals in Sachsenhausen were housed in a special block. Some of them were put to work in the clay pit of the Gross-Klinker brick factory, separated from the other prisoners. This was hard work and everyone had to produce a certain quota. They were exposed to all kinds of weather because there were a certain number of clay trains which had to be filled daily. The baking process could not be stopped just because of lack of material. So they had to work outdoors, summer or winter, regardless of the weather. Depending on the kind of person the homosexual was, the heavy work, which was supposed to make him "normal" again, had a varying effect on him. The purpose of this kind of work had visible results with the "Strichjunge." This was the Berlin slang word for the male prostitutes who wanted to earn their living in an easy way and absolutely avoid even the lightest work. They were not considered homosexuals, since this was only their trade. The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type. Most of them worked very hard and took great care not to get into trouble so that they could be released as soon as possible. They also avoided associating with those afflicted with this depravity and wanted to make it known that they had nothing to do with homosexuals. In this way countless rehabilitated young men could be released without having a relapse.

3. This entire section about the Rumanian prince was omitted in the German edition edited by Broszat.

{p. 109} One lesson was effective enough, since it dealt mostly with young boys. Some men were homosexual because they became weary of women through overindulgence or because they looked for new highs in their parasitic life. These men could also be reeducated and turned away from their vice.

But those who were inclined and had become addicted to their vice could not be reeducated. They were on the same level with those few who were genuine homosexuals. With those not even the hardest work and not even the strictest supervision were of any help. Whenever they found an opportunity they lay in each other's arms. Even when they were completely physically debilitated, they were slaves to their vice. They were easily recognizable. They exhibited a soft, female prudishness and affectation, expressed themselves in a sweet manner, and conducted themselves toward others of their kind with a charming behavior. Those who had turned away from this vice and who wanted to be free from it were different. Their recovery could be carefully observed step by step. Those who had a firm resolve to renounce this vice were able to withstand the hardest work while the others, depending on their inner strength, died. Since they could not or would not give up their vice, they knew that they would never be free again. This most effective mental pressure accelerated the physical decay in these sensitive characters. If in addition to that they lost a "friend" through sickness or perhaps through death, one could predict the future. Many committed suicide. In this situation the homosexual's friend meant everything. It happened several times that two friends decided to commit suicide together.

In 1944 Himmler carried out "renunciation tests" in Ravensbruck. If there was doubt that they were completely cured, the homosexuals were inconspicuously brought together to work alongside whores and were closely observed. The whores were told to approach the homosexuals quietly and to excite them sexually. Those who were cured immediately took advantage of this opportunity and they hardly had to be seduced. The incurables didn't even notice the women. If the women were too obvious in their approach, the incurables tumed away from them shuddering with loathing and disgust.

After this procedure, those who were about to be released were once more given the opportunity to get together with other men. Almost all spurned this opportunity and absolutely refused any advances by the true homosexuals. But there were also borderline cases who took advantage of both opportunities. Whether they could be designated as bisexuals, I have no opinion.

It was in any case very educational to observe the psychological makeup of the homosexual in prison, their lifestyle, and all kinds of activities as far as prison life was concerned.

{p. 110} ln Sachsenhausen there were a great number of prominent people and also some special prisoners. Prisoners were considered "prominent" if they formerly played a role in public life. They were treated as political prisoners and they were dispersed among the others of the same category in the camp and received no special privileges. As the war began, their number increased considerably because of the rearrest of former officials of the Communist and Socialist parties. Special prisoners were those who were to be separately housed in the concentration carnp. The Federal Police had their own reasons not to allow them to have any contact with other prisoners. Only those directly concerned knew about their place of arrest, or that they were in prison. There were only a few of these special prisoners before the war, but as the war progressed the number increased considerably. I will come back to this later.

In 1939 Czech professors, students, and also some Polish professors from Cracow were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. They were housed in a special block in the camp. As far as I can remember they were not allowed to be used for work and there was also no special treatment planned for them. The professors from Cracow were released again after a few weeks because a great number of German professors had pleaded with Hitler through Goring for their release. As far as I recall there were approximately one hundred university teachers involved. I saw them only at their arrival and heard nothing further about them during their imprisonment.

However, I have to discuss one special prisoner in more detail because his behavior while in custody was strange. I was able to closely observe; him and knew all the circumstances concerning him.

I am referring to the Evangelical Pastor Niemoller,4 who was a famous U-boat commander during World War 1. After the war he became a pastor of the German Protestant Evangelical Church, which split into numerous factions. One prominent faction, the Lutheran Confessional Church, was headed by Niemoller. Hitler wanted to see the Protestant church united and had appointed a Protestant Reich's bishop, but many of the Protestant factions refused to recognize him and strongly challenged him. Niemoller was one of them. He had a congregation in Dahlem, a suburb of Berlin. In this congregation there were gathered together all the Protestant reactionaries of the Berlin-Potsdam area and all the old nobility from the

4. Pastor Martin Niemoller is the originator of the now-famous quotation: "In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I was not a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up hecause I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I dld not speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up for me."

{p. 111} Kaiser's tlme, including those who were dissatisfied with the National Socialist government.

Niemoller preached resistance and that led to his arrest. He was housed in a cell block in Sachsenhausen and generally had all kinds of privileges which eased his life in prison. He was allowed to write to his wife as often as he wanted. Every month his wife was allowed to visit and bring him as many books and as much tobacco and food as he desired. He was allowed to take a walk in the courtyard of the cell block whenever he wanted. His cell was made as comfortable as possible. In short, whatever was possible was done for him. It was the Kommandant's duty to constantly worry about him and to ask him about his wishes.

Hitler had a personal interest in persuading Niemoller to give up his opposition. Prominent personalities appeared in Sachsenhausen to persuade Niemoller, even Admiral Lans, his former navy superior of many years and a member of his church, but it was all in vain. Niemoller persisted in his view that no state had the right to interfere with church laws, or in fact to make them. This was solely a matter of each church congregation. The Confessional Church continued to grow and Niemoller became its martyr. His wife busily continued his work. Since I read all of his mail and listened to all his conversations with visitors, which took place in the Kommandant's office, I knew exactly what was going on.

In 1938 he wrote to the commander-in-chief of the navy, Grand Admiral Raeder, that he would renounce his right to wear the uniform of a naval officer because he did not agree with the state which the navy was serving. When the war broke out, he volunteered for service and asked to be assigned as a U-boat commander. The tables were now turned; Hitler refused him because he did not wish to wear the uniform of the National Socialist state. As time went by, Niemoller started to flirt with the idea of changing to the Catholic Church. He brought up the strangest arguments for it, stating that his Confessional Church agreed in essential matters with the Catholic Church, but his wife very energetically advised him against this. I believe he wanted to secure his release by converting to the Catholic Church.5 His congregation would never have followed him.

5. Wilhelm Niemoller, the brother of Pastor Martin Niemoller, wrote in his book, The Struggle and Testimony of the Confessional Church, that Hoss is incorrect on several counts in his narrative of the life and thoughts of Pastor Niemoller while in Sachsenhausen. Wilhelm Niemoller states that Pastor Niemoller never preached resistance to National Socialism, that he could not write as much or as often as he wanted to, nor did his wife bring him all the books that he wanted; that Hitler had absolutely no interest in the pastor at all and that the pastor never wrote to volunteer to serve as a U-boat commander. Pastor Niemoller's recollection is that he only wrote requesting permission to wear his old uniform, which he felt was his right. The response was not from Hitler but from Keitel in a letter dated September 27, 1939, in which he refused the pastor's request. Wilhelm Niemdller states that it is absurd to say that the pastor contemplated converting to Catholicism. Brosat, pp. 82-83.

{p. 112} I often had long conversations with Nlemoller. He was mterested in all questions about life, and he also had an understanding about things which were outside his field. However, as soon as the conversation drifted to a discussion about matters of the church, an iron curtain fell. Stubbornly he returned to his point of view and refused to accept any criticism about his perceptions, no matter how convincing. And in spite of his willingness to convert to the Catholic Church, he would have had to recognize the state, since the Catholic Church had done so by its concordat [agreement between church and state].

Niemoller suffered a personal fiasco because of one of his daughters. He had seven children who eagerly continued his work along with their mother, as much as their young ages allowed them. But one of his daughters fell out of line when she stubbornly decided to marry a naval officer who was not a Christian, but rather a follower of the modern German cult of pseudohumanism, a form of non-Christian belief in God. Niemoller tried everything to talk her out of this. During one of the authorized visits of this daughter he tried to persuade her using all his powers of argumentation based on religious and church doctrine. It did not move her. She married him anyway.6

In 1941 Himmler issued the order that all clergymen were to be transferred to Dachau, and Niemoller was sent there. I saw him in 1944 in a cell block where he had even more freedom of movement and had the company of Bishop Wurm, the former Protestant state bishop of Posen.7 He was in good health and had surv-ved all the years of imprisonment well. His well-being was constantly and adequately taken care of and no one ever offended him. He was always treated courteously.

While Dachau was mainly RED because the majority of the prisoners were political prisoners, Sachsenhausen was GREEN [criminals].8 The whole atmosphere in the camp was influenced by the criminal element, even though the most important executive positions were filled by political prisoners. In Dachau there was a certain esprit de corps among the prisoners which didn't exist at Sachsenhausen.

6. The paragraph about Pastor Niemoller's daughter was omitted in both the German and British editions.

7. Bishop Wurm was never in Dachau. Broszat, p. 83.

8. A system of immediate class identification of prisoners was developed to make it easier for the camp personnel to recognize why the prisoner was being held. Triangles of different colors were sewn above the prisoner's camp number on the left side of the coat and the right leg of the pants: red for political prisoners; green for common criminals, murderers, thieves, etc.; black for asocial types, those who refused to work; pink for homosexuals; violet for the religious; all Jews wore the Star of David crossed by a red triangle, Soviet POWs wore only their camp numbers. It was possible that a prisoner had more than one color triangle if he fit into more than one category. Interview with K. Smolen, July 25, 1983.

{p. 113} The two main colors constantly fought against each other, so it was easy for a camp administrator to play one against the other. That's why the escapes were more numerous from there than from Dachau. For the most part they were much more cunning, better planned, and much better carried out than in Dachau.

An escape in Dachau was a special event, but in Sachsenhausen they really made it a big deal because of Eicke's presence. As soon as the siren sounded Eicke was in the camp, if he happened to be nearby in Oranienburg. He immediately wanted to know all the details down to the smallest item about the escape. He searched doggedly for the guilty SS, who, because of inattention or carelessness, made the escape possible. The chain of guards around the camp often stood for three to four days if there was any indication that the prisoner could still possibly be within the circle of guards. Night and day everything was carefully searched again and again, so that no stone was left unturned. Every SS soldier of the garrison was dragged into the search. The officers, most of all the Kommandant, the camp commander and the officer of the day did not have a quiet hour because Eicke was constantly asking about the status of the search. Eicke felt that no escape should be allowed to succeed. Because the chain of guards was kept in place most of the time, the prisoner was usually found, either hiding someplace or buried by someone in a remote area

But what a strain all of this was for the camp. The men often had to stand continuously for sixteen to twenty hours while the prisoners had to stand at attention until the first chain of guards was relieved. As long as the search was in progress, no one was allowed to move out of the work details and only those functions were carried out which were absolutely necessary to stay alive. If a prisoner succeeded in breaking through the chain of guards, or if he had run away from an outside work detail, a tremendous network was set in motion to recapture him. Every SS soldier and policeman who could be reached was brought into action. Railroads and streets were watched. The motorized branch of the sheriff offices combed the streets and roads guided by radio. The vicinity of Oranienburg had countless waterways and all bridges were posted with guards. The inhabitants of isolated houses were notified and warned. Most of them already knew what happened when the siren sounded. With the help of the local residents, some of the prisoners were caught again. The people living around the camp knew that the prison housed mostly professional criminals. They were scared when there was a breakout. Every sighting was immediately reported to the camp or the search patrols.

When an escapee was found he was paraded past the assembled prisoners of the camp, if possible in front of Eicke, and a big sign was hung around his neck with the words, "I am back again." Not only that, he

{p. 114} also had to beat a large drum which also hung around his neck. After this parading, he was punished with twenty-five lashes with a cane and transferred to the punishment company. The SS soldiers who had found him or caught him were praised in the order of the day and received special leave. Outsiders, police or civilians, received cash rewards. If an SS soldier had prevented an escape by being thoughtful and attentive, Eicke rewarded this with special leave and a promotion. Eicke wanted to be absolutely guaranteed that everything was done to prevent an escape, and also, if an escape succeeded, that nothing was left unsearched which might lead to his recapture. SS guards who made an escape possible were severely punished, even if they were only slightly at fault. Prisoners who assisted in an escape were punished even harder. At this point I would like to tell you about some unusual escapes.

Seven professional criminals, all felons, were housed in a barracks near the wire barrier. They succeeded in digging a tunnel underneath the barrier into the nearby forest and escaped during the night. They spread the earth dug from the tunnel under the barracks, which was raised on pilings. The entrance to the tunnel was under the bed. They had worked several nights on this without their fellow prisoners in the barracks knowing. A week later one of the escapees was recognized on a Berlin street by a block senior and was arrested. During the interrogation, he told where the others were staying so that all could be arrested again.

A homosexual prisoner was able to escape from the clay pits in spite of the tightest security, a sufficient number of guards, and a wire barrier. There was no clue as to how the escape was possible. As the clay handcarts left, each was personally searched by two SS soldiers and the officer in charge. A tremendous search was undertaken that involved days of searching the adjacent forest area. Not a trace was found. Ten days later a wire arrived from the border crossing at Warnemunde [on the Baltic seacoast] that the escaped prisoner had just been brought in by fishermen. SS were sent to get him, and he had to show the escape route. For weeks he thought about his escape and had considered all the possibilities. He concluded the only way to escape was the train of hand carts that left the compound. He worked very hard and thereby became noticed, so he was chosen to lubricate the carts and inspect the tracks. He then watched carefully day after day how the departing train was searched. Every car was inspected on the top and the bottom. The diesel engine was checked, but no one looked underneath the engine because the metal guards reached almost to the tracks, but he had noticed that the rear guard was only loosely attached. While the train was standing at the control point at the exit, he quickly crawled underneath the engine, wedged himself between the pair of wheels and moved out with the train. At the nearest steep curve, he

{p. 115} let himself fall, let the train roll over him, and disappeared into the forest. He knew he had to head north since the escape would be noticed very quickly because the leader of the work detail notified the camp by telephone.

The very first thing done in cases such as this was the guarding of bridges by motorized patrols. As the prisoner reached the great shipping route from Berlin to Stettin, he saw the bridge was already guarded. He hid in a hollow willow tree, so that he could keep the canal and the bridge under observation. I myself have driven past this willow tree several times. During the night he swam across the canal. He then ran straight north, kept away from streets and villages, and obtained civilian clothes from a work shed in a sand pit. He lived off the milk which he got from milking cows in the pastures and vegetables growing in the fields. In this way he passed through Mecklenburg to the Baltic Sea. In a fishing village he succeeded in getting away unnoticed in a sailboat and started sailing in the direction of Denmark. Just before reaching the Danish territorial waters, he met fishermen who recognized the boat. They stopped him, and since they immediately suspected him of being an escaped prisoner, they took him to Warnemunde and handed him over to the authorities.

A professional criminal from Berlin who was a painter worked in some houses in the SS village which was situated within the guard chain. He began an affair with one of the servant girls of a doctor who lived there, and thereby repeatedly visited the house, where he always found something to do. Neither the doctor nor his wife noticed anything about the intimate relationship of their servant girl and the prisoner. The doctor and his wife left for a time, during which the servant girl was also to have a vacation. This was his chance. The girl left the basement window unlocked. After he had watched them leave, he climbed through the unlocked window into the basement. In the upper story he removed a section of the wall, creating a hideout in the space between the slanting roof and the wall; he then drilled a hole through the wooden wall, where he now could observe most of the chain of guards and the village. He had food, drink, and a pistol just in case. When the siren started, he crawled into his hideout, pulled a large piece of furniture against the hole in the wall, and simply waited. During escapes, the houses of the village were thoroughly searched. I myself was in this particular house on the same day because I thought it was suspicious, since at the time no one was there, but I could see nothing wrong. I was also in the room where the criminal sat behind the edge of the roof with the pistol ready, safety off. He later said that if he had been discovered, he would have without a doubt used his pistol. No matter what, he had to be free, because an investigation was underway about a murder committed during a robbery.

{p. 139} 20

The Jews

How did imprisonment affect the Jews, who were the majority in Auschwitz from 1942 on? How did they behave?

Even in the beginning there were Jews in the concentration camps. I knew them very well from my time in Dachau. However, in those days Jews still had the opportunity to leave Germany and go to anywhere in the world that gave them permission to enter. Their stay in the camp was only a question of time or money, and having connections in a foreign country. Many got the necessary visas together within a few weeks and were freed. Only Jews who had violated racial laws, or who were very politically active during the Weimar Republic, had to remain in the camp. Those who had hopes of leaving the country had only one thought: that their life in the concentration camp would pass as smoothly as possible. They worked as hard as they could, even though most of them were totally unaccustomed to hard physical labor. They kept as quiet as possible and fulfilled their duties with quiet willingness.

The Jews in Dachau did not have it easy. They had to work in the gravel pit, which was very hard work for them. The guards had been tremendously incited by Eicke and the newspaper Der Sturmer,1 which was posted everywhere in the SS barracks and in the mess halls. The Jews were harrassed and persecuted enough as "corrupters of the German people," even by their fellow prisoners. Since there was a Der Sturmer bulletin board within the concentration camp, the impact was also noticeable even among those prisoners who were otherwise not really anti-Semitic. Of course, the Jews protected themselves in the typically Jewish way, by bribing their fellow prisoners. They all had plenty of money and could therefore buy anything they wanted in the mess hall. Because of this it was easy to find prisoners who had no money and were therefore very willing to do them

I. Der Sturmer was published by Julius Streicher. It was a vicious, anti-Semitic magazine which contained stories concocted to inflame the people against the Jews. Streicher was tried along with the other major Nazi war criminals by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and was found guilty and executed.

{p. 140} favors in return for tobacco, candy, sausages, and other items. Through bribery, the Jews were able to influence the Kapos to get them easier work details or spend time in the infirmary by bribing the prisoner nursing staff. One Jew had the nails of both large toes pulled out by a prison nurse for a pack of cigarettes, just to get into the hospital. Mostly they were tormented by people of their own race, whether they were Kapos or block seniors. Their block leader, a man named Eschen, was particularly active in doing this. This person later hanged himself after being involved in a homosexual affair. He was afraid of being punished for it. This block leader not only tormented the Jews with all sorts of dirty tricks, but he also tormented them mentally and emotionally. He constantly applied pressure on them. He lured them into breaking the rules of the camp, and then put them on report. He provoked them to physically fight each other, or with the Kapos, so that he would have the threat of reporting them for breaking the rules. However, he did not report them, but instead just kept up the steady pressure by constantly threatening to report them. He was the personification of the devil. He exhibited a sick eagerness to please the SS, but towards his fellow prisoners and members of his own race he was ready to commit any foul deed. Several times I wanted to demote him, but I ran into a stone wall. Eicke personally insisted that he remain in his position.

Eicke invented a special collective punishment just for the Jews. Each time another hate campaign was started against the concentration camps [by the foreign press], the Jews had to remain anywhere from one to three months in their beds. They were allowed to get up only for meals and to step outside of their barracks during roll call. The barracks were not allowed to be aired out and the windows were screwed shut. This was a cruel kind of punishment which had severe psychological effects. Because they were forced to lie down continuously, the prisoners became very nervous and irritable, so much so that they could not stand to look at each other and could not tolerate each other anymore. Terrible fist fights took place among the prisoners.

Eicke believed that only Jews who had been in Dachau could have caused the hate campaign against the concentration camps and, therefore, the Jews as a whole should be severely punished for this.

I have to say something about this. I have always rejected Der Sturmer, [Julius] Streicher's anti-Semitic newspaper, because of the disgusting sensationalism calculated to work on man's basest instincts. Then there was also the constant emphasis on sexual matters, which were extremely pornographic. This newspaper did a lot of damage and has never been of any use to serious scientific anti-Semitism. In fact, it has damaged the cause of anti-Semitism by turning people off It was no wonder after the collapse

{p. 141} of Germany I learned that a Jew edited this newspaper and wrote most of the depraved articles.2

Since I was a fanatic National Socialist, I was firmly convinced that our idea would take hold in all countries, modified by the various local customs, and would gradually become dominant. This would then break the dominance of international Jewry. Anti-Semitism was nothing new throughout the whole world. It always made its strongest appearance when the Jews had pushed themselves into positions of power and when their evil actions became known to the general public. Such depraved hate campaigns in the manner of Der Sturmer did not serve the cause of anti-Semitism. If you wanted to fight the Jews intellectually, you had to use better weapons than this. I believed that because our ideas were better and stronger, we would prevail in the long run. Eicke's collective punishment would have no effect whatsoever against the hate reports about the concentration camps. The hate campaign would have continued even if hundreds or thousands were shot. In those days I thought that it was right that the Jews we held in custody should be punished for the spread of the hate campaign by their fellow Jews.

Then came Kristallnacht,3 instigated by Goebbels in November 1938; throughout all of Germany Jewish businesses were destroyed, or at least all the windows were smashed in retaliation for the killing of von Rath in Paris by a Jew.4 Everywhere fires broke out in the synagogues and the firemen were deliberately prohibited from fighting the fires. "In order to protect them from the wrath of the German people," all Jews who still played a role in commerce, industry, and business were arrested and brought to the concentration camps as "Jews in protective custody." This is when I first became acquainted with them as a group. Until then Sachsenhausen was almost free of Jews, but now this tidal wave of Jews came all at once. Before then bribery was an almost unknown concept in Sachsenhausen. Now it started to become widespread and it took all forms.

The Greens welcomed the Jews with great pleasure as objects of exploitation. We had to take their money away from them, otherwise there would have been chaos in the camp.

2. There is absolutely no evidence to confirm the statement that Der Sturmer was edited by a Jew. Broszat, p. 109.

3. The dates of November 9 and 10, 1938, are called Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), the night of breaking glass, because of the noise heard throughout German cities as organized Nazi rioters shattered every window in Jewish synagogues and stores and burned them. Thirty thousand Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps to "save them from the wrath Of the German people." Thalmann and Feinermann, Crystal Night, 1974.

4. A seventeen-year-old boy named Herschel Grynszpan shot and killed the third secretary of the Germany embassy in Paris, Ernst von Rath, because his parents had been deported from Germany. Thalman and Feinermann.

{p. 142} The Jews did damage to each other whenever they could. Each tried to get an easy job for himself. In fact, with the tacit approval of the Kapos, whom they had bribed, new jobs were constantly being invented to avoid real work. In order to get a nice easy job they did not shrink from getting rid of their fellow prisoners by making false accusations against them. When they had achieved a certain, position, they mercilessly bossed and tormented members of their own race in a beastly manner. They far surpassed the Greens in every way. In order to escape this torment and often out of desperation, many Jews threw themselves into the electrified barbed wire or attempted to escape with the hope of being shot. Some just hanged themselves.

The Kommandant reported these continuous occurrences to Eicke. He replied, "Just let them be. Let the Jews devour each other without our interference."

I want to emphasize here that I personally never hated the Jews. I considered them to be the enemy of our nation. However, that was precisely the reason to treat them the same way as the other prisoners. I never made a distinction concurring this. Besides, the feeling of hatred is not in me, but I know what hate is, and how it manifests itself. I have seen it and I have felt it.

The original order of 1941 to annihilate all the Jews stated, "All Jews without exception are to be destroyed." It was later changed by Himmler so that those able to work were to be used in the arms factories. This made Auschwitz the assembly point for the Jews to a degree never before known.

The Jews who were imprisoned during the 1930s could still count on the fact that someday they might be released again, which made being in prison psychologically much easier. But for the Jews in Auschwitz, there was no such hope. They knew without exception that they were sentenced to death, and that they would stay alive only as long as they worked. The majority also had no hope or expectation that their sad fate would be changed. They were fatalists. Patiently and apathetically they allowed all the misery, deprivation, and torment to happen to them. The hopelessness of escaping the foreseeable end caused them to become totally withdrawn from what was happening in the camp. This mental breakdown accelerated the physical breakdown. They no longer had the will to live. They had become indifferent to everything and even the slightest physical shock caused them to die. Sooner or later death was certain for them.

From what I observed, I firmly maintain that the death rate of most of the Jews was caused not only by the unaccustomed work, or the inadequate food, or the overcrowded living conditions and all the other unpleasantness and poor conditions of the camp, but mainly and most

{p. 143} importantly because of their psychological condition.5 The death rate of the Jews was not much lower in other places of work in other camps under much more favorable conditions. It is significant that it was always relatively higher than the death rate of other prisoners.

During my inspections of the camps as camp inspector [after November 1943], I had seen and heard this often enough. This was even more noticeable among the Jewish women. They collapsed even quicker than the men, even though, from my observation, women generally are much tougher and have more stamina psychologically and physically than do men. This applies to the majority of the Jewish prisoners. In many ways the more intelligent ones conducted themselves differently. These were mostly the Jews who were psychologically strong, who had the will to live, and who came mostly from the Western countries. These were the exact ones, especially the doctors, who knew precisely what was going to happen. But they hoped and counted on good luck sparing them. They hoped that somehow or sometime their lives would be saved. They also counted on Germany's collapse because the enemy propaganda reached them easily. For them, the goal now became to get a job or a position which would lift them from the mass of prisoners and bring them special privileges. This then would protect them somehow from the chance of getting killed accidently and improved their entire living condition. In order to win such "protection for life," in the truest sense of the word, they applied all their knowledge and tough will. The safer the position, the more desirable it was, and the more it was fought over. There was no consideration for others. This was a fight in which everything was at stake. No means were spared, no matter how depraved, in order to free up such a position or to hold on to it. For the most part the unscrupulous were the winners. Many times I heard about the fights to dislodge others from their positions in the camp. In different camps I had become familiar with the methods and intrigues of these power struggles for higher positions among the different color triangles and the various political groups. Even then I was still able to learn a lot from the Jews in Auschwitz. "Necessity is the mother of invention," and here it actually concerned survival itself.

It repeatedly happened that those who occupied safe positions suddenly began to slowly waste away when they learned about the death of close family members, in spite of the fact that there was no physical reason, such as illness or poor living conditions. The Jews have a tremendously strong sense of family cohesiveness. The death of close relatives affects

5. Hoss fails to recall that hundreds of thousands of Jews were gassed in the chambers or simply executed. He also fails to mention that the work system was designed to work prisoners to death.

{p. 144} them so much that life does not seem worth living or fighting for anymore. However, I have also witnessed the opposite during the gassings, but more about that later.

{p. 145} 21

The Women's Camp

All of the above also applies to the female prisoners of the various groups. For the women, however, everything was much more difficult and depressing and could be felt more because the general conditions in the women's camp were worse. They were jammed together much more than the men. The sanitary and hygienic conditions were considerably worse. Added to that, it never had been possible to get the women's camp organized properly because of the disastrous overcrowding with all its consequences from the beginning.

Everything was much more crowded than with the men. When the women had reached a point of no return, they let themselves go completely. They stumbled through the area like ghosts, completely without will, and had to be literally pushed everywhere by others until one day they just quietly died. These walking corpses were a terrible sight. The Green triangles among the female prisoners were of a special type. I believe that Ravensbrick had selected the "best" for Auschwitz. They far exceeded their male counterpart in their ability to survive in toughness, vileness, and depravity. Most of them were prostitutes with considerable records. Often they were loathsome females. One can understand that it was unavoidable that these beasts satisfied their evil desires by exploiting the prisoners they were in charge of.

When Himmler visited Auschwitz in 1942, he thought that they would be especially well-suited to act as Kapos for the Jewish women. Not many of them died unless they were victims of an epidemic. They never suffered any mental anguish.

I can still visualize the bloodbath which took place at Budy. I dont believe that men could ever turn into such monsters. The way the Green triangles mutilated and had torn the French Jewish women apart, killed them with axes, and strangled them to death was simply horrible.1 Fortunately, not all the Greens and Blacks were such depraved creatures. There were also some useful ones among them who still had a heart for their

1. See appendix I for the complete story of the tragedy at Budy as told by sn SS corporsl, Pery Broad.

{p. 146} fellow prisoners. But these women were persecuted terribly by their comrades of the same triangle color. Most of the female SS guards showed no understanding of this situation.

A pleasant contrast to this type were the female Jehovah's Witnesses, called "Bible Bees" or "Bible Worms." Unfortunately, there were too few of them. In spite of their more or less fanatical philosophy, they were very much in demand. They worked as servants for the SS who had large famllies, in the Waffen SS clubhouse, even in the officer's club, but for the most part they worked on the farms. They needed no guards or supervisors. They worked on the chicken farms at Harmense and on different farm estates. They chose to work hard since this was Jehovah's commandment. They were mostly middle-aged German women but there were also a number of Dutch females represented. I had two older women working for more than three years in our household. My wife often said that she personally could not take better care of the household than these two women. They were especially touching in the way they cared for our children.

The children hung on them as if they were members of the family. At first we feared that they might try to convert the children to Jehovah. But this never happened. They never spoke about religious subjects, which was truly surprising because of their fanatical attitude. There were also peculiar types among them. One of them worked for an SS officer and was able to anticipate his every wish, but absolutely refused to clean or even to touch his uniforms: not the cap, the boots, or, in fact, anything connected with the military. But as a whole, she was satisfied with her lot. By her suffering imprisonment for Jehovah, she hoped to gain entry into his kingdom, which was expected to come soon. Strangely, all of them were convinced that the Jews were justly suffering and had to die because their ancestors had betrayed Jehovah. I have always believed Jehovah's Witnesses to be poor lunatics who were happy in their own way.

The rest of the able female prisoners of Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, or Russian nationalities were used for farm work. Because of this they escaped the mass camp and all its bad effects. They were much better off in the living quarters of the farms and Raisko [a large estate owned by the SS]. I have always found that all of the prisoners who worked on the farmand were living away from the main camp made quite a different impression. They just weren't under the same psychological pressures as those in the mass camps. Otherwise it would not have been possible to get them to do the work willingly and without question. The fact that the regular women's camp was overcrowded from the very beginning meant mental breakdowns for the mass of the female prisoners, which was sooner or later followed by physical breakdown. In the women's camp the worst possible conditions always prevailed. This was true right from the beginning, when it

{p. 147} was still part of the original main camp.2 When the transports of Jews from Slovakia began [March 26, 1942], within a few days the women's camp was crammed full to the rafters. Washing and toilet facilities were barely able to satisfy even the smallest needs for one third of them. To bring order into this scurrying anthill, I would have needed other manpower requirements than the few available female guards sent to me from Ravensbrick. I have to emphasize once again; they did not send me their best.

In Ravensbriick the female guards had been spoiled rotten. Everything had been done to persuade them to stay in the women's concentration camp service and also to attract new female guards by providing a very high standard of living. They were housed extremely well and were paid a salary which they could never have achieved in civilian life. They also were not overworked in their duties. In short, Himmler and especially Pohl wanted us to give them the greatest consideration.

At the time conditions were still normal in Ravensbruck, so there was no question as yet of overcrowding. None of these guards came to Auschwitz voluntarily, and yet, they were supposed to start under the most difficult conditions. From the very beginning most of them wanted to run back to the quiet, comfortable, easygoing life at Ravensbruck. The female officer in charge of the women guards, Mrs. Langefeldt, was in no way able to handle the situation, but she stubbornly refused any advice from the camp commander. I finally had to admit this mess could not continue like this, so on my own authority I simply put the women's camp under the control of the camp commander. Hardly a day passed in which there weren't discrepancies in the roll call count. In this confusing situation the female guards ran around like excited chickens and didn't know what to do. The three or four competent female guards were driven crazy by the others. Since the female officer in charge of the guards felt that she was an independent leader of the camp, she complained about being put into a lower position than her equally ranked male counterpart. I actually had to reissue the order putting her under the camp commander.

When Himmler visited Auschwitz in July 1942, in Mrs. Langefeldt's presence I listed all of the poor conditions and I told him that she was not, nor ever would be, able to lead and build the women's concentration camp at Auschwitz properly. I once again asked him to make her subordinate to the camp commander.

2. Auschwitz was constantly evolving in an attempt to fulfill the changing orders of Heinrich Himmler. On March 26, 1942, 999 women were brought from Ravensbrilck and housed in Blocks I through 10. A wall was constructed to separate the women from the rest of the male prison population. This caused a considerable stir among the Polish male prisoner population. Many attempts were made to make contact with the segregated women. - Smolen.

{p. 148} In spite of the most convincing proofs of her incompetence and the incompetence of the other female guards in general, he absolutely refused. He wanted a woman in charge of the women's camp and told me that I was to put one of the SS officers under her command as her assistant. But, which of the officers would subject himself to be placed under the command of a woman? Every officer I ordered to do so out of necessity begged me to be relieved from this duty as soon as possible. When time permitted I was present at the unloading of the larger transports in order to ensure a smooth transition. So right from the beginning of the women's camp, the female prisoners took control. Therefore, the larger the camp became, the more diffilcult it was for the female guards to control it, and the easier it was for the prisoners to gain self-rule. Since the Greens were predominant, shrewder, and had less scruples, they actually ruled the women's camp, in spite of the fact that the camp seniors and the other top prison trusties were Red. The "instructors," as the female Kapos were called were mostly Green or Black triangles. This was the reason that in the women's camp, the most miserable conditions always prevailed.

The senior female camp guards were head and shoulders above those who came after them. In spite of the tremendous recruiting throughout the Nazi women's organizations, very few women volunteered to be concentration camp guards. The rising daily demand for women guards had to be met by force. Every armament factory to which female prisoners were detailed had to supply a certain percentage of female employees as women guards. It can be understood that these companies did not send the best material, since there was a general shortage of capable women workers because of the war. These guards were now given a few weeks of half-hearted training in Ravensbrlck and then let loose on the prisoners. Since the selection and the allocation took place in RavensbrUck, Auschwitz again was put at the bottom of the barrel. It is only natural that Ravensbrick kept the best workers, since they had to put up a new women's work camp themselves.

That's how the guard situation in Auschwitz looked. Their moral qualities, almost without exception, were very, very low. Many female guards ended up appearing before the SS court during the Reinhardt Action for stealing.3 However, these were only the few who were caught. In spite of

3. Action Reinhardt was the code name for the collection and listing of all the goods plundered from the Jewish transports and the gold extracted from the mouths of the victims who were gassed. Special squads of men and women spent days collecting, sorting, arld examining clothing for money and jewels hidden in the linings and sewn into false pockets Suitcases were opened and canned foods were separated from the clothing. The wealth brought into the camp created instant riches for those in these special squads if they werent caught by the SS. The SS also could not resist the temptations of money, precious stones, and Jeweky. The black market flourished in Auschwitz-Birkenau and it is said that everything could be had for a price. Broszat, p. 116.

{p. 149} the most severe punishment designed to deter them, the stealing continued, and they continued to use prisoners as middlemen. I will give one very flagrant case as an example.

A female guard sank so low that she became sexually involved with some of the male prisoners, mostly Green Kapos. As payment for her sexual favors she accepted valuable jewelry, gold, and other items. In order to cover up her shameless conduct, she had an ongoing affair with a staff sergeant. She hid her hard-earned pay in his room by packing it up and locking it away. This jerk had no idea what his sweetheart was doing and was very much surprised when all those nice things were found in his quarters. This female guard was put into the concentration camp for life by Himmler and received an additional punishment of two lashings of twenty-five strokes each.

Similar to the homosexuality in the mens camp, the infection of lesbian love was widespread in the womens camp. Even the strongest punishments, in fact, even the transfer to a punishment company, could not stop it. Many times cases of sexual contact between female guards and female prisoners were reported to me. All this shows the low quality of these guards. Obviously, it can be understood that they did not take their duties very seriously and were mostly undependable.

There werent many possible ways to punish the breaking of service rules. Confinement to quarters was, in fact, considered to be a privilege because it kept them indoors during bad weather. All forms of punishment needed the authorization of the inspector of concentration camps or Pohl. There was to be as little punishing as possible, but, instead, by kind teaching and able leadership, these deviations were supposed to be set straight. The female guards, of course, knew all of this and the majority acted accordingly.

I have always had a great respect for women in general. In Auschwitz, however, I learned that I had to reserve my general opinion, so that I had to look very closely at a woman before I could consider her with the greatest respect. The above applies to the majority of the female guard personnel. However, there were good, dependable, and very decent women among them, even if they were just a few. It does not need to be emphasized that these few suffered very badly in the environment of Auschwitz, but they could not escape their fate, since they were drafted into the service. Several of them poured out their troubles to me, and even more so to my wife. We could only console them by pointing out that at the end of the war their troubles would be over. This truly was poor consolation.

In addition to the guard detachment for the work Kommando outside the camp, the women's camp also had the dog handlers. In order to save guard personnel the female guards were allotted dogs in Ravensbriick. Even though the female guards were armed with pistols, Himmler counted on

{p. 150 the use of dogs to have a deterring effect on the prisoners. ...

{p. 155} 22

The Gassings

Before the mass destruction of the Jews began, all the Russian politruks [Communist Party members] and political commissars were killed in almost every camp during 1941 and 1942. According to the secret order given by Hitler, the Einsatzgruppe [special troops of the SS] searched for and picked up the Russian politruks and commissars from all the POW camps. They transferred all they found to the nearest concentration camp for liquidation. The reason for this action was given as follows: the Russians were murdering any German soldier who was a member of the Nazi Party, especially SS members. Also, the political section of the Red Army had a standing order to cause unrest in every way in any POW camp or places where the POWs worked. If they were caught or imprisoned, they were instructed to perform acts of sabotage. This is why these political officials of the Red Army were sent to Auschwitz for liquidation. The first small transports were shot by firing squads of SS soldiers.

While I was on an official trip, my second in command, Camp Commander Fritzsch, experimented with gas for these killings. He used a gas called Cyclon B, prussic acid,1 which was often used as an insecticide in

1 . "The gas [Cyclon B] was manufactured by the Dessauer Works for Sugar and Chemical Industry and distributed by the German Corporation for Combating Vermin [Deutsche Gesellschaft filr Schadlingsbekampfung m.b.H. - Degesch], whose managing director was Dr. Gerhard Pders. The Cyclon-B was used for fumigating ships, army posts, and camps, as well as for the killings in Auschwitz ... Specific quantities within the allocation of the gas were ordered by the SS Economics Administratiw Main Office's Group D, located in Oranienburg and headed by SS Brigadier General Richard Glilcks." Documents of Destruction, edited by Raul Hilberg, 1971, p. 219.

Hydrocyanic acid - HCN - (prussic acid) is a highly volatile, poisonous liquid used for fumigation and for case-hardening iron and steel. It is also used in electroplating. The German Cyclon B was a mixture of this acid with diatomaceous earth creating the blue crystalline substance so often described. The containers were airtight because the crystals sublimated into gas, that is, went from their solid state to a gas upon contact with air. The rate of sublimation depended on temperature and humidity. Lower temperature and high humidity cause the process of sublimation to be considerably slowed. Water hydrolyzes the gas, since it is miscible (dissolves) in water. Therefore, a spray of water, preferably slightly acidic, would neutralize the gas. "Treatise on Inorganic Chemistry," Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology.

{p. 156} the camp to exterminate lice and vermin. There was always a supply on hand. When I returned Fritzsch reported to me about how he had used the gas. We used it again to kill the next transport.

The gassing was carried out in the basement of Block II. I viewed the killings wearing a gas mask for protection. Death occurred in the crammed-full cells immediately after the gas was thrown in. Only a brief choking outcry and it was all over.2 This first gassing of people did not really sink into my mind. Perhaps I was much too impressed by the whole procedure.

I remember well and was much more impressed by the gassing of nine hundred Russians which occurred soon afterwards in the old crematory because the use of Block II caused too many problems. While the unloading took place, several holes were simply punched from above through the earth and concrete ceiling of the mortuary. The Russians had to undress in the antechamber, then everyone calmly walked into the mortuary because they were told they were to be deloused in there. The entire transport fit exactly in the room. The doors were closed and the gas poured in through the openings in the roof. How long the process lasted, I dont know, but for quite some time sounds could be heard. As the gas was thrown in some of them yelled "Gas!" and a tremendous screaming and shoving started toward both doors, but the doors were able to withstand all the force. It was not until several hours later that the doors were opened and the room aired out. There for the first time I saw gassed bodies in mass. Even though I imagined death by gas to be much worse, I still was overcome by a sick feeling, a horror. I always imagined death by gas a terrible choking suffocation, but the bodies showed no signs of convulsions. The doctors explained to me that prussic acid paralyzes the lungs.3 The effect is so sudden and so powerful that symptoms of suffocation never appear as in cases of death by coal gas or by lack of oxygen.

At the time I really didn't waste any thoughts about the killing of the Russian POWs. It was ordered; I had to carry it out. But I must admit openly that the gassings had a calming effect on me, since in the near future the mass annihilation of the Jews was to begin. Up to this

2. Death is caused by the cyanide gas combining with red blood cells, thus prohibiting them from carrying needed oxygen to the body. Victims of this gas first fall unconscious due to lack of oxygen. As the body struggles to save the vital organs, it cuts off the blood flow to the extremities, attempting to bring the oxygen-full blood to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. If the victim is not removed or given the amio nitrate antidote, he will die of oxygen starvation. This explains the many descriptions of the Sonderkommando, who worked pulling out bodies from the gas chambers. They reported that the victims' lips, fingers, toes, and even ears were purple or dark blue. The gas is noticeable in the air by a bitter almond smell; some have described it as a peach pit smell. Two hundred to five hundred parts per million of air for thirty minutes is usually fatal. Interview with Craig Skaggs, Dupont Chemical Company, Wilmington, Delaware.

3. Hoss and the doctors are incorrect. See footnote 2.

{p. 157} point it was not clar to me, nor to Eichmann, how the killing of the expected masses was to be done. Perhaps by gas? But how, and what kind of gas? Now we had discovered the gas and the procedure. I was always horrified of death by firing squads, especially when I thought of the huge numbers of women and children who would have to be killed. I had had enough of hostage executions, and the mass killings by firing squad ordered by Himmler and Heydrich.

Now I was at ease. We were all saved from these bloodbaths, and the vicims would be spared until the last moment. That is what I worried about the most when I thought of Eichmann's accounts of the mowing down of the Jews with machine guns and pistols by the Einsatzgruppe.4 Horrible scenes were supposed to have occurred: people running away even after being shot, the killing of those who were only wounded, especially the women and children. Another thing on my mind was the many suicides among the ranks of the SS Special Action Squads who could no longer mentally endure wading in the bloodbath. Some of them went mad. Most of the members of the Special Action Squads drank a great deal to help get through this horrible work. According to [Captain] Hoffle's accounts, the men of Globocnik's extermination section drank tremendous quantities of alcohol.

In the spring of 1942 [January] the first transports of Jews arrived from Upper Silesia. All of them were to be exterminated. They were led from the ramp across the meadow, later named section B-II of Birkenau, to the farmhouse called Bunker I. [Camp Commander] Aumeier, Palitzsch, and a few other block leaders led them and spoke to them as one would in casual conversation, asking them about their occupations and their schooling in order to fool them. After arriving at the farmhouse they were told to undress. At first they went very quietly into the rooms where they were supposed to be disinfected. At that point some of them became suspicious and started talking about suffocation and extermination. Immediately a panic started. Those still standing outside were quickly driven into the chambers, and the doors were bolted shut. In the next transport those who were nervous or upset were identified and watched closely at all times. As soon as unrest was noticed these troublemakers were inconspicuously led behind the farmhouse and killed with a small caliber pistol, which could not be heard by the others. The presence of the Sonderkommandos and their soothing

4. The infamous Einsatzgruppe (special action squads) was a contingent of the SS who followed behind the Wehrmacht (regular German anny) and arrested Commnunist Party members, those connected with the Soviet government (politruks) and Jews. These were usually marched to a wooded area, machine-gunned to death, then buried in shallow mass graves. If the number was small, they would be shot in town and their bodies left.

5. The Sonderkommando were special squads of men in Auschwitz-Birkenau who worked exclusively in the gas chambers and were kept separate from all the other camp prisoners. They were usually Jews who were selected or sent to the Kommando (work detail) as punishment, {continued on p. 158}

{p. 158} behavior also helped calm the restless and su!picious. Some of the Sonderkommando even went with them into the rooms and stayed until the last moment to keep them calm while an SS soldier stood in the doorway. The most important thing, of course, was to maintain as much peace and quiet as possible during the process of arriving and undressing. If some did not want to undress, some of those already undressed as well as the Sonderkommando had to help undress them.

With quiet talk and persuasion even those who resisted were soothed and undressed. The Sonderkommando, which was composed of prisoners, took great pains that the process of undressing took place very quickly so that the victims had no time to think about what was happening. Actually the eager assistance of the Sonderkommando during the undressing and the procession into the gas chambers was very peculiar. Never did I see or ever hear even a syllable breathed to those who were going to be gassed as to what their fate was. On the contrary, they tried everything to fool them. Most of all, they tried to calm those who seemed to guess what was ahead. Even though they might not believe the SS soldiers, they would have complete trust in those of their own race. For this reason the Sonderkommando was always composed of Jews from the same country as those who were being sent to the gas chamber.

The new arrivals asked about life in the camp and most of them asked about their relatives and friends from earlier transports. It was interesting to see how the Sonderkommando lied to them and how they emphasized these lies with convincing words and gestures. Many women hid their babies under piles of clothing. Some of the Sonderkommando watched carefully for this and would talk and talk to the woman until they persuaded her to take her baby along. The women tried to hide the babies because they thought the disinfection process would harm their infants. The little children cried mostly because of the unusual setting in which they were being undressed. But after their mothers or the Sonderkommando encouraged them, they calmed down and continued playing, teasing each other, clutching a toy as they went into the gas chamber.

I also watched how some women who suspected or knew what was happening, even with the fear of death all over their faces, still managed enough strength to play with their children and to talk to them lovingly. Once a woman with four children, all holding each other by the hand to help the smallest ones over the rough ground, passed by me very slowly

{footnote 5 continued} as in the case of Filip Muller. They helped the SS get the victims undressed and into the gas chambers. After the people were gassed they went into the chambers and pulled out the bodies and dragged them to be checked for gold teeth. Others pulled the teeth, while still others worked near the ovens or the open-pit trenches making sure the bodies were being consumed by the flames. Filip MiDer.

{p. 159} She stepped very close to me and whispered, pointing to her four children, "How can you murder these beautiful, darling children? Don't you have any heart?"

Another time an old man hissed while passing me, "Germany will pay a bitter penance for the mass murder of the Jews." His eyes glowed with hatred as he spoke. In spite of this he went bravely into the gas chamber without worrying about the others.

Another young woman stands out in my mind. While constantly running back and forth, she helped to undress the little children and old women with great care. At the point of selection she had two little children at her side and she caught my attention by her agitated behavior and her appearance. She didn't look Jewish at all. At this point the children were no longer with her. Staying until the end with several other children, she kept speaking softly and calming those who weren't finished undressing. She then went into the bunker with the last group. In the doorway she stopped and said, "I knew from the beginning that we were destined to be gassed at Auschwitz. I got through the selection of those who were chosen to work by taking children in my hands. I wanted to experience the process fully conscious and accurately. I hope it will be quick. Farewell!"

Occasionally some women would suddenly start screaming in a terrible way while undressing. They pulled out their hair and acted as if they had gone crazy. Quickly they were led behind the farmhouse and killed by a bullet in the back of the neck from a small caliber pistol. Sometimes, as the Sonderkommando were leaving the room, the women realized their fate and began hurling all kinds of curses at us. As the doors were being shut, I saw a woman trying to shove her children out of the chamber, crying out, "Why don't you at least let my precious children live?" There were many heartbreaking scenes like this which affected all who were present.

In the spring of 1942 hundreds of people in the full bloom of life walked beneath the budding fruit trees of the farm into the gas chamber to their death, most of them without a hint of what was going to happen to them. To this day I can still see these pictures of the arrivals, the selections, and the proccssion to their death.

As the selection process continued at the unloading ramps, there were an increasing number of incidences. Tearing apart families, separating the men from the women and children, caused great unrest and excitement in the entire transport. Separating those who were able to work only increased the seriousness of the situation. No matter what, the families wanted to stay together. So it happened that even those selected to work ran back to the other members of their family, or the mothers with their children tried to get back to their husbands, or to the older children. Often there was such chaos and confusion that the selection process had to be started all over

{p. 160} again. The limited amount of standing room did not permit better ways to separate them. There was no way to calm down these overly exated masses. Oftentimes order was restored by sheer force.

As I have said rpeatodly, the Jews have a very strong sense of family. They cling to each other like leeches, but from what I observed, they lack a feeling of solidarity. In their situation you would assume that they would protect each other. But no, it was just the opposite. I heard about, and also expenenced, Jews who gave the addresses of fellow Jews who were in hiding. These Jews in particular came from Westem Europe.

A woman who was already in the gas chamber shouted out the addres of a Jewish family to an SS soldier. One man who, judging by the way he was dressed and the way he behaved, came from the best social class, actually gave me a slip of paper on which was a list of quite a few addresses of Dutch families who were hiding Jews. I cannot explain what motivated them to reveal this information. Was it personal revenge, or were they jealous because they did not want the others to live on?

As strange as that was, so was the general behavior of the Sonderkommando. All of them knew with certainty that when it was over, they themselves would suffer the same fate as thousands of their race had before them, in whose destruction they were very helpful. In spite of this they still did their job with an eagerness and in a caring, helpful way during the undressing, yet they would also use force with those who resisted undressing This always amazed me. They never spoke to the victims about what was ahead of them. They also led away the troublemakers and then held on to them firmly while they were being shot. They led these victims in such a way that they could not see the NCO who stood ready with his gun. This enabled him to aim at the back of their necks without being noticed. It was the same when they dealt with the sickly and feeble who could not be brought into the gas chambers. All this was done in a matter-of-fact manner, as if they themselves were the exterminators. They dragged the bodies from the gas chambers, removed the gold teeth, cut off the hair, then dragged the bodies to the pits or to the ovens. On top of that, they had to maintain the fires in the pits, pour off the accumulated fat, and poke holes into the burning mountains of bodies, so that more oxygen could enter. All these jobs they perfommed with an indifferent coolness, just as if this was an everyday affair. While dragging the bodies, they ate or smoked. Even the gruesome job of burning the bodies dug up after being in mass graves for a long time did not prevent them from eating. It often happened that Jews from the Sonderkommando discovered close relatives among the bodies and even among those who went into the gas chambers. Although they were visibly affected there never was any kind of incident.

This incident I witnessed myself: as the bodies were being pulled out

{p. 161} of one of the gas chambers, one member of the Sonderkommando suddenly stopped and stood for a moment as if thunderstruck. He then pulled the body along, helping his comrades. I asked the Kapo what was wrong with him. He found out that the startled Jew had discovered his wife among the bodies. I watched him for a while after this without noticing anything different about him. He just kept dragging his share of bodies. After a while I again happened on this work party. He was sitting with the others and eating as if nothing had happened. Was he really able to hide his feelings so completely or had he become so hardened that something like this really didn't bother him?

Where did the Jews of the Sonderkommando get the strength to perform this horrible job day and night? Did they hope for some special luck that would save them from the jaws of death? Or had they become too hardened by all the horror, or too weak to commit suicide to escape their existence? I really have watched this closely, but could never get to the bottom of their behavior. The way the Jews lived and died was a puzzle I could not solve.

I could relate countless more of these experiences and occurrences of the type I have described so far. These are only excerpts from the total process of the annihilation. They are only glimpses.

The mass annihilation with all the accompanying circumstances did not fail to affect those who had to carry it out. They just did not watch what was happening. With very few exceptions all who performed this monstrous "work" had been ordered to this detail. All of us, including myself, were given enough to think about which left a deep impression. Many of the men often approached me during my inspection trips through the killing areas and poured out their depression and anxieties to me, hoping that I could give them some reassurance. During these conversations the question arose again and again, "Is what we have to do here necessary? Is it necessary that hundreds of thousands of women and children have to be annihilated?" And I, who countless times deep inside myself had asked the same question, had to put them off by reminding them that it was Hitler's order. I had to tell them that it was necessary to destroy all the Jews in order to forever free Germany and the future generations from our toughest enemy.

It goes without saying that the Hitler order was a firm fact for all of us, and also that it was the duty of the SS to carry it out. However, secret doubts tormented all of us. Under no circumstances could I reveal my secret doubts to anyone. I had to convince myself to be like a rock when faced with the necessity of carrying out this horribly severe order, and I had to show this in every way, in order to force all those under me to hang on mentally and emotionally.

Everyone watched me. They all wanted to see what kind of impression

{p. 162} this made on me, and how I reacted. Following these scenes I was observed carefuUy. Everything I said was thoroughly discussed. I had to make a tremendous effort to pull myself together in order not to show, not even once, in all the excitement after an incident, or to allow my inner doubts and depressions to come out in the open. I had to appear cold and heartless during these events which tear the heart apart in anyone who had any kind of human feelings. I couldn't even turn away when deep human emotion rose within me. Coldly I had to stand and watch as the mothers went into the gas chambers with their laughing or crying children.

On one occasion two little children were involved in a game they were playing and their mother just couldn't tear them away from it. Even the Jews of the Sonderkommando didn't want to pick up the children. I will never forget the pleading look on the face of the mother, who certainly knew what was happening. The people in the gas chamber were becoming restless. Everyone was looking at me. I had to act. I gave the sergeant in charge a wave, and he picked up the screaming, kicking children in his arms and brought them into the gas chamber along with the mother, who was weeping in the most heart-breaking fashion. Believe me, I felt like shrinking into the ground out of pity, but I was not allowed to show the slightest emotion.

Hour upon hour I had to witness all that happened. I had to watch day and night, whether it was the dragging and burning of the bodies, the teeth being ripped out, the cutting of the hair, I had to watch all this horror. For hours I had to stand in the horrible, haunting stench while the mass graves were dug open, and the bodies were dragged out and burned. I also had to watch the process of death itself through the peephole of the gas chamber because the doctors called my attention to it. I had to do all of this because I was the one to whom everyone looked, and because I had to show everybody that I was not only the one who gave the orders and issued the directives, but that I was also willing to be present at whatever task I ordered my men to perform.

Himmler sent various high-ranking Party officials and SS officers to Auschwitz to see the process of the extermination of the Jews. All of them were deeply impressed by what they saw. Some of them who had lectured before very fanatically about the necessity of this extermination became completely silent while viewing the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" and remained so. I was asked repeatedly how I and my men could watch these proceedings day after day. How we could stand it? I gave the same answer time and time again, that only iron determination could carry out Hitler's orders and this could only be achieved by stifling all human emotion. Even [SS General of the Gestapo] Mildner and Eichmann, who had a reputation for being truly hard, said they would not want to change places with me. No one envied me my job.

{p. 163} I had many detailed discussions concerning every phase of the "Final solution of the Jewish Question" with Eichmann without ever letting him know what was going on inside me. I tried everything possible to get Eichmann to open up about what his deepest convictions were about the "Final Solution." But, even when we were alone and the wine and schnapps were flowing so that he was in the most talkative mood, he revealed that he was totally obsessed with the idea of destroying every Jew he could get his hands on. Ice cold and without mercy, we had to carry out this annihilation as quickly as possible. Any compromise, even the smallest, would bitterly avenge itself later on.

Faced with such grim determination I had to bury all my human inhibitions as deeply as possible. In fact, I have to confess openly that after such conversations with Eichmann these human emotions seemed almost like treason against the Fihrer. There was no escaping this conflict as far as I was concerned. I had to continue to carry out the process of destruction. I had to experience the mass murder and to coldly watch it without any regard for the doubts which uprooted my deepest inner feelings. I had to watch it all with cold indifference. Even minor incidents, which others probably would not have noticed or been affected by, stayed on my mind for a long time.

And yet, I really had no reason to complain about being bored at Auschwitz.

When something upset me very much and it was impossible for me to go home to my family, I would climb onto my horse and ride until I chased the horrible pictures away. I often went into the horse stables during the night, and there found peace among my darlings.

Often at home my mind would suddenly recall some incident at the killing sites. That's when I had to get out because I couldn't stand being in the loving surroundings of my family. When I watched our children happily at play, or saw my wife bubbling with happiness over the baby, this thought often came to me: how long will your happiness continue? My wife never understood my troubled moods and merely blamed them on the problems connected with my work. Many a night as I stood out there on the railroad platforms, at the gas chambers, or at the burnings, I was forced to think of my wife and children without connecting them to what was taking place. The married men who worked the crematory or the open-pit burnings often told me that the same thoughts had occurred to them. When they watched the women enter the gas chambers with their children, their thoughts naturally turned to their own families.

I was no longer happy at Auschwitz once the mass annihilation began. I became dissatisfied with myself, my main responsibility, the neverending work, and the undependability of my coworkers. I was also not happy with my superior's lack of understanding and the fact that he would not even

{p. 163} listen to me. Truly, it was not a happy or desirable situation. And yet, everyone in Auschwitz believed the Kommandant really had the good life. Yes, my family had it good in Auschwitz, every wish that my wife or my children had was fulfilled. The children could live free and easy. My wife had her flower paradise. The prisoners tried to give my wife every consideration and tried to do something nice for the children. By the same token no former prisoner can say that he was treated poorly in any way in our house.6 My wife would have loved to give a present to every prisoner who performed a service for us. The children constantly begged me for cigarettes for the prisoners. The children especially loved the gardeners. In our entire family there was a deep love for farming and especially for animals. Every Sunday I had to drive with them across all the fields, walk them through the stables, and we could never skip visiting the dog kennels. Their greatest love was for our two horses and our colt. The prisoners who worked in the household were always dragging in some animal the children kept in the garden. Turtles, martens, cats, or lizards; there was always something new and interesting in the garden. The children splashed around in the summertime in the small pool in the garden or the Sola River. Their greatest pleasure was when daddy went into the water with them. But he had only a little time to share all the joys of childhood.

Today I deeply regret that I didn't spend more time with my family. I always believed that I had to be constantly on duty. Through this exaggerated sense of duty I always had made my life more difficult than it actually was. My wife often urged me, "Don't always think of your duty, think of your family too." But what did my wife know about the things that depressed me? She never found out.7

6. In a personal interview with the editor on August 8, 1983, Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, a renowned Polish artist, stated that although he was a prisoner in Auschwitz, he was ordered by Kommandant Hoss to come to his house to sort and select the best of the art collection that Hoss had gathered in his home. These art works had been taken from the homes of the Polish people during the expansion of the camp area. Koscielniak was ordered to decorate the interior of the Hoss villa around the acquired art works. Koscielniak lived in the house for three days, ate dinner with the Hoss family, and was treated very cordially by Kommandant Hoss, Mrs. Hoss, and the children. In fact, he said he was treated as a guest.

7. Hoss deliberately tries to deceive the reader here in order to protect his wife and family. G. M. Gilbert was the court-appointed psychiatrist at the Nuremberg war crimes trial. Because Hoss was brought to testify in Kaltenbrunner's defense, he was locked up with the other major war criminals and underwent several questioning sessions with Gilbert. On the afternoon of April 12, 1946, Hoss was asked for the first time about his sexual relationship with his wife. Since he had been answering everything truthfully thus far, he responded in an open, unguarded moment: "Well, it was normal, but after she found out what I was doing, we rarely had desire for intercourse. Things looked normal outwardly, I guess - there was an estrangement." G. M. Gilbert, uremberg Diary. 1947, p. 229.

{p. 165} 23

Chief of the Department of Inspectors of Concentration Camps

According to Pohl's suggestion Auschwitz was divided up.' He gave me a choice of becoming Kommandant of Sachsenhausen, or becoming chief of concentration camps inspectors. It was very unusual for Pohl to let an officer actually choose his assignment, and even more extraordinary that he gave me twenty-four hours to think it over. This was a gesture of goodwill on his part for what I had accomplished at Auschwitz. At first I was not happy about moving away because Auschwitz had become my life precisely because of the difficulties, the problems, and the many difficult duties. But afterward, I was glad that I was free from all of it. I knew I did not want a concentration camp again - no matter what the situation. I had had enough after nine years general service in concentration camps and three-and-a-half years at Auschwitz.

I chose to become the chief of concentration camps inspectors. There really was nothing else for me. I was not allowed to go and fight at the front lines because Himmler had refused both my requests. As a matter of fact, I really didn't like office work, but Pohl had told me that I could reorganize the department the way I wanted. When I started my new post on December 1, 1943, Glcks also let me have a free hand, even though he was not pleased with Pohl's choice; me, of all people, around him. However, he accepted the inevitable because Pohl wanted it. If I wanted to do more than just sit back and use my job as a nice easy cushion, I would first have to help the Kommandants and make sure that the duties of my department were based on the needs of the camps. This was the exact opposite of the usual procedure by the previous inspector of the camps [Liebehenschel]. ...

1. On November 22, 1943, the command of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex and its thirty-odd subcamps were divided into three comrnand groups. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Liebehenschel took command of the original Auschwitz camp, Major Hartjenstein took charge of Birkenau, and subcamps were placed in command of Captain Schwarz. PMO.

{p. 178} 24


We arrived in Flensburg to report for the last time. This is where Himmler and the government had moved. There was no more question of fighting. The order of the day was, "Save yourself, if you can." I will never forget the last meeting and farewell from Himmler. He was beaming and in a great mood; yet the world, our world, had perished. If he had said, "Well gentlemen, now it's over, you know what to do," I would have understood - that would have corresponded with what he had preached year in and year out, ''Self-sacrifice for the ideology." But, instead, he gave us his last order: "Hide yourself in the army!"

This was the goodbye from the man I respected so highly, in whom I had placed such tremendous confidence, whose orders and sayings were gospel to me. Maurer and I just looked at each other in silence thinking the same thought. We were both old Nazis and SS officers who lived for our ideology. Had we been alone, we would have committed some kind of desperate act, but we still had to take care of our bureau chief, the officers and men of our staff and the vulnerable families. Glucks was already half dead anyway. Using a different name, we took him to the navy hospital. [General] Gebhardt took charge of the women and children who were destined for Denmark. The rest of the bureau submerged into the navy with fake papers. I took the name of Seaman Franz Lang and traveled with marching orders to the Naval Intelligence School on the Isle of Sylt. I sent my son back to my wife with a car and a driver. Since I knew a little about the navy, I wasn't noticed. There wasn't much work to do, so I had plenty of time to think over carefully what had happened. By chance one day I heard the news on the radio of Himmler's arrest and death by poison.1

1. On May 23, 1945, Hirnmler, accompanied by an entourage, attempted to slip past the British checkpoint near Luneburg in North Germany. Himmler wore a black patch over his eye to conceal his identity. As the men were being examined, Himmler removed the patch put on his distinct glasses and uttered in a quiet voice, "Heinrich Himrnler." Even though they had searched Himmler's dothing carefully, the intelligence officer, Colonel Michael Murphy still felt that Himmler had poison hidden somewhere on his body. He called in a doctor to once again examine Himmler. As the doctor examined Hillltnler's open mouth, he noticed {footnote continued on p. 179}

{p. 179} I too always carried my vials of poison with me. I was not going to take the chance of being arrested.

The Naval Intelligence School was dismantled and transported to the internment area between the Kiel Canal and the Schlei River. The British brought the SS soldiers of that zone to the school and interned them on the Friesian Islands. Because of this I was close to my family and was able to see them several more times. My oldest son visited me every few days. Since I was a farmer by profession, I was released very early and passed all the British checkpoints and through the employment office with out any problems. I got a job on a farm near Flensburg as a laborer. I liked the work. I was completely on my own because the owner of the farm was still an American POW. I spent eight months there. I kept in touch with my wife through her brother [Fritz Hensel], who was working in Flensburg. I also learned from him that the British Field Security Police were looking for me. I knew also that my family was being carefully watched and that they constantly searched their house.

On March 11, 1946, at 11 p.m., I was arrested. My vial of poison had broken just two days before. The arrest was successful because I was frightened at being awakened out of a sound sleep. I assumed it was a robbery because there were a lot of them occurring in the area.

I was treated terribly by the [British] Field Security Police. I was dragged to Heide and, of all places, to the same military barracks from which I had been released eight months before by the British. During the first interrogation they beat me to obtain evidence. I do not know what was in the transcript, or what I said, even though I signed it, because they gave me liquor and beat me with a whip. It was too much even for me to bear. The whip was my own. By chance it had found its way into my wife's luggage. My horse had hardly ever been touched by it, much less the prisoners. Somehow one of the interrogators probably thought that I had used it to constantly whip the prisoners.

After a few days I was taken to Minden on the Weser River, which was the main interrogation center in the British zone. There they treated me even more roughly, especially the first British prosecutor, who was a major. The conditions in the jail reflected the attitude of the first prosecutor.

Surprisingly, after three weeks I was shaved, my hair was cut, and I was allowed to wash myself. My handcuffs had not been opened since my arrest. The next day I was taken by car to Nuremberg together with a prisoner of war who had been brought over from London as a witness

{footnote 1 continued} something black between his teeth. As he attempted to get a better look into his mouth, Himmler bit down hard on the poison vial and died within a few seconds. Heinz Hohne, The Order of the Death's Head, 1983, p. 655.

{p. 180} in Fritzsche's defense. Compared to where I had been before, Imprisonment with the IMT [International Military Tribunal] was like staying in a health spa. I was housed in the same building as the principal defendants [Hermann Goring, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer, Julius Streicher, and others] and could see them daily as they were being led to court. There were daily inspections by the representatives of all the Allied countries. I was constantly displayed as a particularly interesting animal.

I had been brought to Nuremberg because Kaltenbrunner's defense attorney demanded me as a witness for his defense. I could never understand and it is still not clear even today, how I of all people could help Kaltenbrunner's defense. Even though the prison conditions were good in every aspect and I now had time to read from an extensive library made available to us, the interrogators were really not pleasant. Physically there was no problem, but more so were the mental and emotional effects. I cannot really blame the interrogators - they were all Jews. I was for all intents and purposes psychologically dissected. That's how accurately they wanted to know everything - this was also done by Jews.2 They also left me with no doubt whatsoever what was going to happen to me.

On May 25 [1946], our wedding anniversary, I was driven to the airport with von Burgsdorff and Buhler and handed over to the Polish authorities. We flew in an American plane to Warsaw via Berlin. Although we had been treated very politely on the flight, I remembered my experiences in the British zone. I also thought of the hints about how I would be treated in the East. I feared for the worst. The expressions and gestures of the onlookers at the airport during our arrival also did not exactly inspire any confidence in me.

After arriving in prison several officials approached me immediately and showed me their Auschwitz tattoo numbers. I could not understand them, but I do not suppose they wished me well. However, I was not beaten. The imprisonment was very strict and totally isolated. I was often viewed and checked. The nine weeks I spent there became very difficult for me because there was absolutely nothing to keep my mind occupied. I had nothing to read, nor was I allowed to write.

I arrived on July 30 in Cracow with seven other Germans. We had to wait quite a while at the railroad station for a car. During that time a crowd had gathered add angrily cursed at us. Major Goth was recognized

2. Hoss was one of the few who could, and also would give precise inforrnation about every aspect of the mass killings. In fact, he answered everything asked of him. He even gave personal information to Gilbert in 1946 that he felt necessary to contradict in 1947 in order to protect his wife and family.

{p. 181} immediately.3 If the car had not arrived when it did, we would have been bombarded with stones.

During the first weeks' imprisonment was quite tolerable, but sudden1y the prison caretakers were changed people overnight. From their behavior and conversation, which I could not understand but could figure out, I could deduce that they wanted to "finish me off." On a regular basis I received the smallest piece of bread and barely a ladleful of their soup. Never again did I get a second portion, even though each day there were leftovers. These were distributed in the cells next to me. Whenever a guard wanted to open my cell to give me some of the leftover food, he was immediately whistled back.

Here is where I learned the power of the prison caretakers. They had absolute rule. They confirmed to me again, clearly enough, my contention about the tremendous and often disastrous power which prisoner trusties can exert over their fellow prisoners. Here is where I also came to fully understand the three categories of guards.

If the prosecutor's office had not intervened, they would have finished me off, most of all mentally and emotionally. They almost had me at the breaking point. This was not feeble hysteria. I was almost totally finished at that time, and I can stand quite a bit. Life had often enough been hard for me, but the psychological torture of these three satans was too much. I was not the only one who was mistreated like this. They also badly mistreated a few of the Polish prisoners. They have long since left this position and it is gratifyingly quiet.

I have to openly confess I never would have expected to be treated so decently and so kindly in a Polish prison as I have been since the intervention of the prosecutor's office.

3. SS Major Amon Leopolt Goth was in charge of the liquidation of the Cracow ghetto in March 1943. He was also the commander of the Jewish concentration camp in Plaszow near Cracow. He was sentenced to death by the Polish Peoples' Court on September 5, 1946. Broszat, p. 146.

{p. 19} The memoirs, profiles, and letters of Kommandant Rudolf Hoss were written between October 1946 and April 1947 at the suggestion of Jan Sehn, the prosecuting attorney for the Polish War Crimes Commission in Warsaw.

{p. 189} 26

The Final Letters to His Wife and Children

11 April 1947

My dear good Mutz! 1

My path through life is now coming to a close. Fate has worked out a truly sad ending for me. How fortunate were the comrades who were allowed to die an honest soldier's death.

Calmly and composed I look toward the end. From the beginning I was completely clear about the fact that I would perish with the world to which I had pledged myself with all my body and soul when that world was shattered and destroyed. Without realizing it, I had become a cog in the terrible German extermination machine. My activities in performing my task were out in the open. Since I was the Kommandant of the extermination camp Auschwitz I was totally responsible for everything that happened there, whether I knew about it or not. Most of the terrible and horrible things that took place there I learned only during this investigation and during the trial itself. I cannot describe how I was deceived, how my directives were twisted, and all the things they had carried out supposedly under my orders. I certainly hope that the guilty will not escape justice.

It is tragic that, although I was by nature gentle, good-natured, and very helpful, I became the greatest destroyer of human beings who carried out every order to exterminate people no matter what. The goal of the many years of rigid SS training was to make each SS soldier a tool without its own will who would carry out blindly all of Himmler's plans. That is the reason why I also became a blind, obedient robot who carried out every order.

My fanatic patriotism and my most exaggerated sense of duty were good prerequisites for this training.

1. "Mutz" was the luckname that Rudolf Hoss called his wife. Kindi, Puppi, Burling, Annemausl, and Hauamutterle are nicknames Hoss called his children.

{p. 190} At the end it is difficult to admit to myself that I have chosen a very wrong path and, because of it, I have brought about my own destruction.

But what good does all the weighing and balancing do? Was it right or was it wrong? In my opinion all our paths through life are predestined by fate and a wise providence, and are unchangeable.

Painful, bitter, and heavy-hearted is the separation from all of you, from you dearest best Mutz, and from all of you, my dear good children, and that I have to leave you behind, poor unfortunates, in poverty and misery.

On you, my poor unfortunate wife, destiny has put the heaviest burden on us through our sad fate. For in addition to our unlimited pain of being torn apart, there is the burdensome worry about your future life and the worry about the children. But dearest, be consoled! Don't despair!

Time has a way of healing even the deepest, most serious wounds, which you cannot believe you can survive in the first painful moments. Millions of families have been torn apart or have been destroyed by this wretched war.

But life goes on. The children grow up. I only hope that you, dearest, best Mutz, may be given the strength and health so that you can care for all of them until they all can stand on their own two feet.

My misspent life places on you, dearest, the holy obligation to educate our children so that they have, in their deepest heart, a true humanity. Our dear children are all naturally good-natured. Nurture all of these good impulses in their hearts in every way. Make them sensitive to all human sorrow. What humanity is, I have only come to know since I have been in Polish prisons. Although I have inflicted so much destruction and sorrow upon the Polish people as Kommandant of Auschwitz, even though I did not do it personally, or by my own free will, they still showed such human understanding, not only by the higher officials, but also by the common guards, that it often puts me to shame. Many of them were former prisoners in Auschwitz or other camps. Especially now, during my last days, I am experiencing such humane treatment I never could have expected.

In spite of everything that happened, they still treat me as a human being.

My dear good Mutz, I beg you, don't become hardened by the heavy blows fate has dealt us! Keep your good heart for yourself! Don't be led astray by troubles or hardship and misery through which you are forced to endure! Don't lose your faith in humanity.

Try, as soon as possible, to get away from those dreary surroundings.

Start the proceedings to change your name. Take back your maiden name again. Now there should not be any more difficulties about that! My name is now disgraced throughout the whole world, and you, my poor

{p. 191} ones, nave suffered unnecessary probIems time and again because of my name, especially the children, who will be held back from future advancement. Certainly Klaw would have had an apprenticeship long ago if his name had not been Hoss. It is for the best that my name disappears with me.

I also received permission to enclose my wedding ring in this letter to you.

With sadness and happiness I think of that time in the spring of our life when we exchanged the rings. Who could have guessed this kind of end of our life together.

"Days in the sun" were not granted us, but instead there were difficult toils, much sorrow, and worry. Only step by step did we get ahead. How happy we were through our children, whom you, dearest, best Mutz happily bore for us time and again. In our children we saw our life's task. Our constant concern was to create a home as a steady foothold for them, and to raise them to be useful human beings. Time and again during my imprisonment I have gone back over our life together, remembering all the events and happenings, over and over. What happy hours we were allowed to experience, but we also had to suffer a great deal of deprivation, illness, grief, and heartbreak.

I thank you with all my heart, my dear good friend, for all the goodness and beauty you brought into my life, and which you, at all times, shared bravely and faithfully with me, and also for your endless love and care for me. Forgive me, you good woman, if I have ever offended you, or hurt you.

How deeply and painfully I regret every hour that I did not spend with you, dearest and best Mutz, and the children because I believed duty would not allow it, or there were other commitments which I thought were more important.

A kind fate has allowed me to hear from you, dear ones. I received all eleven letters dated from December 31 to December 16. How happy I was therefore, especially during the days of the trial, to read your dear lines. Your care and love for me and the dear smalltalk of the children gave me new courage and strength to withstand everything. I am particularly grateful, my dearest, for the last letter, which you wrote Sunday during the early hours. It was as if you had a premonition that these would be the very last words that reached me. How bravely and clearly you write about everything. But what bitter sorrow, what deep pain can be found between the lines. I do know how intimately both our lives are intertwined, how hard this having to leave one another is.

I wrote to you, my dear good Mutz, on Christmas, on January 26, and on March 3, and March 16, and hope you have received these letters. But how little can be said in writing, and especiaUy under these circumstances.

{p. 192} How much has to be left unsaid, which cannot be done in writing. But we have to make the best of it. I am so grateful that I could learn even a little about you, and that I could still tell you, dearest, essentially what moved me.

All my life I have been a reserved person. I never liked to let anyone look into me, to see what moved me in my innermost soul, and I always settled everything inside myself.

How often have you, dearest, regretted that, and found it painful, that you yourself, who stood nearest me, could be only such a small part in my inner life. And so I dragged with me all my doubts and depressions for many years about whether what I was doing was right or wrong and whether the harsh orders given to me were necessary. I could not and was not allowed to express my opinions to anyone. You, dearest good Mutz, can now understand why I became more and more reserved, and more and more unapproachable. And you, dearest Mutz, and all of you loved ones, inadvertently had to suffer from that, and could not explain to yourselves my discontent, my absentmindedness, and my often grumpy manner. But that's the way it was; I regret it painfully. During my long and lonely imprisonment I've had enough time on my hands to think exhaustively about my life. I have thoroughly reviewed every aspect of my actions. Based on my present knowledge I can see today clearly, severely and bitterly for me, that the entire ideology about the world in which I believed so firmly and unswervingly was based on completely wrong premises and had to absolutely collapse one day.

And so my actions in the service of this ideology were completely wrong, even though I faithfully believed the idea was correct. Now it was very logical that strong doubts grew within me, and whether my turning away from my belief in God was based on completely wrong premises. It was a hard struggle. But I have again found my faith in my God. Dearest, I cannot write more about these things. It would just lead to too much.

Should you in your misery, my dear good Mutz, find through the Christian faith strength and consolation, then follow the urge of your heart. Dont be led astray by anything. Also, you don't have to do what I have done. You should make your own decision about your Lord. The children will in any case, because of school, walk a different path than the one we have taken. Klaus may later wish to decide for himself, after he has matured, and maybe find his own way.

And so there is only a pile of rubble left from our world from which the survivors have to build a new and better world with great difficulty.

My time has come.

Now it is time to say the final goodbyes to you loved ones, you who were dearest to me in all the world!

{p. 193} How hard and painful this parting is.

You, dearest best Mutz, I thank with all my heart once more for all your love and care and for all that you brought into my life! Through our dear and good children I will always be with you, you my poor, unfortunate wife. I leave with confident hope that after all the difficulty and sadness, you, my loved ones, will be allowed to find a small spot on the sunny side of life, and that you will find a modest chance at life and that you, my dear good Mutz, will be accorded through our children a quiet and content happiness.

All my intimate good wishes accompany all of you dear ones on your life's journey to come. I thank with all my heart all of the dear, good people who stood by you in your hour of need and helped you, and I send my best regards.

My last dear greetings go to my parents, to Fritz and to all our dear old friends.

For the last time I send to you loved ones my regards, to you all my dear good children, my Annemausl, my Burling, my Puppi, my Kindi and my Klaus, and to you, my dearest best Mutz.

Oh you, my poor, unfortunate wife, most most dear and with a heavy heart.

Keep me in loving remembrance.

Until my last breath, I remain with all my loved ones.

{Hoss' last letter to his children}

Your Daddy

You, my dear, good children!

Your daddy has to leave you now. For you, poor ones, there remains only your dear, good Mommy. May she remain with you for a good long time yet. You do not understand yet what your good Mommy really means to you, and what a precious possession she is to you. The love and care of a mother is the most beautiful and valuable thing that exists on this earth. I realized this a long time ago, only when it was too late; and I have regretted it all my life.

To you, my dear good children, I address therefore my last (beseeching) request: Never forget your dear good mother! She has constantly taken care of you with such sacrificing love. Her life concerned only you. How much of the good things in life has she sacrificed for your sake. How she feared for you when you were ill and how painfully and untiringly did she nurse all of you. She was never at ease when all of you were not around her. Only for your sake must she suffer now all of the bitter misery and poverty. Don't ever forget this throughout your whole life.

{p. 194} Help her as well as you can with your limited strength. In this manner pay her part of the thanks for the love and care she gave you during the days and nights.

Klaw, my dear good boy!

You are the oldest. You are now going out into the world. You have to now make your own way through life. With your own strength you must now shape your life. You have good aptitudes. Use them! Keep your good hean. Become a person who lets himself be guided primarily by warmth and humanity.

Learn to think and to judge for yourself, responsibly. Dont accept everything without criticism and as absolutely true, everything which is brought to your attention. Learn from life. The biggest mistake of my life was that I believed everything faithfully which came from the top, and I didn't dare to have the least bit of doubt about the truth of that which was plesented to me.

Walk through life with your eyes open. Don't become one-sided; examine the pros and cons in all matters.

In all your undertakings, don't just let your mind speak, but listen above all to the voice in your heart. Much, my dear boy, will not be understood by you as yet. But always remember my last advice.

I wish you, my dear Klaus, all the luck in your life. Become a competent, straightforward person who has his heart in the right place.

Kindi and Puppi.

You my big girls!

You are yet too young to learn the extent of the hard fate dished out to us. But you especially, my dear good girls, are specially obligated to stand at your poor unfortunate mother's side and with love assist her in every way you can. Surround her with all your childlike love from your heart and show her how much you love her and show her how much you want to help her in her need. I can only beseech you, listen to your dear good mother! She will now in her devoted love and care show you the right way and will bestow on you those lessons you will need for life in order to become good and capable human beings.

As fundamentally different as you two are in your character, you both, my dear [Puppi], and you, my dear Hausm~tterle, have, however, soft and feeling hearts. Retain these throughout your later life. This is the most important thing. Only later will you understand that and will you remember my last words.

My Burling, you dear little guy! Hang on to your happy child disposition. The cruel life will tear you, my dear boy, soon enough away from your child's world. I was happy to hear from your dear mother that you are

{p. 195} progressing well in school.

Your dear father is unable to tell you anything more. You poor Uttle guy have now only your dear good Mommy left who will care for you. Listen to her with love and kindness and so remain "Daddy's dear Burling."

My dear Annemausl.

How little was I permitted to experience your dear little personality. Your dear good Mommy will have to take you, my dear Mausl. for us into her arms and tell you of your daddy, and how very much he loved you.

May you be for a long time Mommy's little ray of sun and continue to give her much joy. May you, with your sunny ways, help your poor dear Mommy through all the dreary hours.

Once more from my heart I ask you aU, my dear good children, take to heart my last words. Think of them again and again.

Keep in loving memory, Your Dad

[The following note was attached to the above letters and is the last thing that Rudolf Hoss wrote.]

To the First States Attorney of the Highest National Court at Warsaw.

By way of the First States Attorney at the Court of Wadowice.

I most respectfully request that the enclosed last letter and the wedding ring be delivered officially to my wife.

I have submitted this request to the Highest National Court during my final summation.

Wadowice, on the 12th of April, 19472


Rudolf Hoss

2. Rudolf Hoss was sentenced to death by hanging on April 11,1947.

{end Hoss Memoirs and Letters}

Comment by Peter Myers: why I put this material online

This book is about an event deemed pivotal in history. Media documentaries and movies on it, having a hectoring, nagging tone, have no impact on deniers. Jewish ownership of the media, and Israel's use of this event for what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the "Holocaust Industry", only harden the sceptics.

Deniers like Robert Faurisson dismiss Hoss' Memoirs as written under duress, even torture. But Hoss was not the ONLY leading Nazi put on trial at Nuremberg. The others would have been given the same treatment, yet none of them produced a Memoir so personal and so reflective.

Interrogators can get prisoners to sign statements admitting guilt, but not to make such detailed revelations as Hoss does here.

Let the Reader judge for him/her self. If, like me, you find these Memoirs genuine, then placing them online has been justified.

I believe that Sceptics and Deniers who read this document are more likely to be convinced by it than by all the Hollywood propaganda.

Letter from a Reader (added December 12, 2009):

From: chris stone <> Date: 07.12.2009 10:01 PM Subject: On line information

Dear Peter

Thank you for putting this on line it was fantastic, having spent some time looking into Hoss life and reading your information, do you believe in the end he truly regretted his actions or was this another way to justify to his wife that he was not a bad person. I have read that his Wife and children emigrated to the USA making new lives for themselves, is there any evidence of them trying to come to terms with the terrible things he was responsible for doing.

Again thank you for your work

Chris Stone

Reply (Peter M.):


Probably Hoss just wanted to set the record straight - before he died. Explain things to his wife, yes. And in retrospect, he does seem to feel regret.

Before Gas Chambers, Jews were executed by Firing Squad. The result was the same, but it's not regarded as barbaric (because universally done by all sides).

When a group of people face execution at the hands of another, the experience is terrrible for them, regardless of whether the mechanism is Firing Squads, Gas Chambers, execution with a bullet to the back of the head (a Communist method), or Cruise missiles, or White Phosphorus bombs, or Gas attacks on WWI trenches, or nuclear attack as at Hiroshima, or conventional bombing strikes as at Dresden, or numerous other methods.

From the Nazi point of view, execution by Gas Chamber was a more humane method - for both the victims and the perpetrators. It was bloodless, and over quickly, and the victims did not know it was coming (which spared them anguish). But the secrecy surrounding the whole process shows that the leadership was aware that the German public - and the world - would see it as barbaric.

Even the European invasion of the New World used a lot of unpleasant methods. One would "turn a blind eye". The perpetrators might still be regarded as "nice people" - even heroes - in their own group.

In more recent decades, Communists turned a blind eye to the sins of Lenin/Trotsky (the Jewish faction) or Stalin (the anti-Jewish faction).

And Jewish treatment of Palestinians - the Jews' own internal minority, the native people they displaced - and of Arab/Moslem neighbours is not so different from Nazi treatment of Jews. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the threatened attack on Iran, and the West's "War on Terror" - all largely at the instigation of the Jewish Lobby - are an extension of the Palestinian conflict. Why focus on Nazi sins and ignore Jewish ones?

In short, we all have blood on our hands. Does that put us all in the same boat?

This says much about the limits of Universalism or Internationalism. Is there a neutral platform, a "God's Eye" view, or are we all biased?


Letters from Readers, and replies; added February 23, 2011:

From: M Date: 04.05.2009 07:32 PM Subject: RE: Memoirs of Rudolph Hoss, Kommandant at Auschwitz - NOW ONLINE

Hess' confession was written in English, a language he did not speak, read, or write.

REPLY (Peter M.):

What is your source for this statement?

The Translator of Death Dealer (Hoss' Memoirs) writes:

{p. 17} Translator's note

... In translating the handwritten notes of Rudolf Hoss, another problem arose, since he wrote in a mixture of old German script and the so-called new Latin script adopted in the late nineteen-thirties in Nazi Germany. ...


From: L Date: 07.05.2009 02:12 PM Subject: Regarding the Fatal Flaw in Holocaust Denial, by Peter Myers

The Rudolph Hoss material is perhaps more interesting, although not necessarily conclusive given the Jewish talent at fiction (witness Hollywood, Anne Frank other false accounts) but I can't quite figure out why it is that your argument that Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz means that therefore Auschwitz was a death camp.

Let me see if I understand your argument at all:

Because there was no possibility of sending the Jews East as the Soviets closed in, therefore it was not feasible to settle Hungary's Jews in the East, therefore sending the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz was necessary, therefore, Auschwitz was a death camp with gas chambers, and there can be no other interpretation of the data.

REPLY (Peter M.):

Some years ago, when I was sitting on the fence, a leading Denier sent me (as an email attachment) a book claiming that "Final Solution" meant Resettlement in the East - specifically, Belarus (ByeloRussia, White Russia, Ruthenia, White Ruthenia).

In the Hungarian case, this was not realistic. Resettlement only made sense if the Germans were going to keep that land in perpetuity; it was meaningless if the Russians were about to re-take it.

To move several hundred thousand people late in the war was a major undertaking.

That is the population of Canberra (the capital of Australia), which took decades and a lot of $ to build. It's a waste of resources, late in the war.

If those Hungarians were only sent to work in the Auschwitz factories etc, you would do the Selections in Hungary, and only send those suitable for work. You would exclude women with young children, old men, old women, the sick, the disabled etc.

But that's not how it happened. Selections were done at Auschwitz instead.

Deniers cannot just place the onus of proof on the Affirmers (Faurisson's line); they themselves must explain and account for the millions of Jews (& others) transferred to these sites.

This is the weakness in their case. Once one realises that, one reads Pressac, Browning, Provan, van Pelt, Hoss, Vrba et al.


Letters from a Reader, and Replies; added February 24 & 25, 2011

From: A Date: 22.02.2011 12:32 AM

... the testimony given by Rudolf Höss at his trial at Nuremberg cited a method that, on even the most cursory reading, is manifestly implausible.

From: A Date: 22.02.2011 07:59 AM

... no physical or photographic evidence of the so-called gas chambers or any heating equipment which would have made sense of Höss's statements was ever produced.

From: A Date: 23.02.2011 10:55 AM

Why will you not respond to my questions about the lack of evidence for gas chambers and the necessary equipment to heat the Zyklon B crystals to the point where they would emit gas, and the utter absurdity of Rudolf Höss's confession?

From: A Date: 23.02.2011 07:29 AM

The average annual temperature in Poland is only about 8 degrees Centigrade.

However, the boiling point of Hydrogen Cyanide is 25.7º C, which is when it becomes a gas. At a temperature which was 17º lower, some hydrogen cyanide fumes would have floated off the Zyklon B crystals, but the deadly gas would not have been released in mass-human-killing quantities at such low temperatures and the heat produced by the people in the roomÑthe heating of the air by their breathing and the heat radiated from their bodiesÑwould have been insufficient to raise the air temperature by any significant amount, within the stated time frame.

This means that the method Höss presented to the court at Nuremberg would only have had a slim chance of working during Poland's summer months, while for the rest of the year it would have failed.

Furthermore, Höss makes no mention of ventilating the alleged gas chamber, following the deaths of those inside it, so as not to incapacitate or kill the people charged with removing the bodies.

To sum up: Rudolf Höss described a method that could not possibly have been employed to kill the number of people whose deaths he admitted to being responsible for. However a detailed description of how Zyklon B was used for the purpose of killing disease-carry insects can be found in the notes for this video, and it does include a method of heating the crystals and ventilating the delousing chambers.

REPLY (Peter M.)

Hoss writes, in his Memoirs,

"The time required for the gas to take effect varied according to weather conditions and depended on whether it was damp or dry, cold or warm." (p. 44).

Much as you say. Note that he mentions the effect of temperature.

> Höss makes no mention of ventilating
> the alleged gas chamber

On the contrary. He mentions "vents" in two places and ventilation in two places:

"immediately pour the gas [crystals] into the vents in the ceiling of the gas chamber down an air shaft which went to the floor. This ensured the rapid distribution of the gas." (p. 44)

"Cyclon B caused death with far greater speed and certainty, especially if the rooms were kept dry and airtight ... and ... fitted with as large a number of intake vents as possible." (p. 43)

"underground gas chambers in which the air could be completely ventilated" (p. 36).

"The door was opened a half an hour after the gas was thrown in and the ventilation system was turned on." (p. 44)

The CODOH webpage you cite says,

"The blowers, in effect, drove the entire fumigation process. Initially, each blower would accelerate the evaporation of ... Zyklon-B granules ... by forcing warm air through the granules and then circulating the resulting air and hydrocyanic acid gas mixture throughout ... the chamber. Finally, each blower forcevented the lethal gas mixture out of the chamber up a vent pipe through the roof ..."

The same blowers were used as INPUT and OUTPUT devices.

The vents in the ceiling were used for intake AND for ventilation.

This would have applied to Gas Chambers too.

From: A Date: 24.02.2011 08:00 PM Subject: Re: RESENT - Hoss on heating & ventilation


Nothing can be airtight if it has openings in it, as inlet fans obviously require. If air is being forced into a room, what it is displacing, be it air or another gas, must be able to escape from the enclosure, otherwise there would be an immense build up of pressure. Which means that enclosures with fan inlets or outlets could not possibly be airtight.

As far as your reading comprehension is concerned, the link I cited was to a device designed for delousing, which you appeared to relate to the use of fans used for heating as well as ventilating, yet you followed that on with references to 'vents'.

> The vents in the ceiling were used for intake AND for ventilation.

> This would have applied to Gas Chambers too.

But to make such a jump is absurd. Vents are not active, they are passive. The direction of the passage of air or a gas through vents in a ceiling would depend on the air movement around a structure. Unless fans were employed to ventilate a space, the hydrogen cyanide that was allegedly dropped through holes in the ceiling or walls would take far more than a half-hour to dissipate to a level where it would be safe to clear a 'chamber' of the bodies in it.

The delousing unit I referred you to clearly forms the basis for a practical application, and we know that such devices were used to delouse clothing in the German prison camps, because there are many references to such procedures. In fact similar delousing methods were used at Ellis Island, New York, in the quarantine block, before and after WW II.

It is you who must produce evidence of a similar device that was used by the GermansÑwho were great scientists and engineers and very careful about detailsÑthat would have been required to produced the volume of gas necessary to kill large numbers of people, for it is you who continues to claim that the Nazis gassed people to death using Zyklon B crystals, as the starting point, without a shred of evidence to back up your claim as to how it was done, in particular how the Zyklon B crystals were heated to a temperature above 25.7C, in Autumn, Winter and Spring.

REPLY (Peter M.):



> Vents are not active, they are passive.

You're claiming that vents would have interfered with airtightness. But, if so, this would have applied to delousing chambers as much as extermination gas chambers.

In each case, there's a need for vents which can be opened, and closed tight.

Pressac says that the designs were the same (uppercase emphasis mine):

"The delousing and homicidal installations where hydrocyanic gas was used were of STRICTLY IDENTICAL DESIGN: A CLOSED SPACE OF ANY DESIRED VOLUME WITH ONE OR TWO GAS-TIGHT OR TEMPORARILY SEALED DOORS AND FITTING WITH ONE OR TWO FANS FOR VENTILATION (sometimes natural ventilation only). (p. 53)

On the heating question, he writes,

{quote} "Preheating" makes sense only for a gas chamber using Zyklon-B, where the temperature has to be raised to 27°C for the hydrocyanic acid to evaporate. {endquote} (p. 375)

and, referring to delousing chamber 5a at Birkenau,

"At Birkenau the west wing of BW 5a is a typical example: the bricks of the walls are stained with Prussian blue, especially in the area of stoves inside that were used to bring the room up to the evaporation temperature of hydrocyanic acid." (p. 555)

"The fact is that CLOTHES DO NOT GIVE OFF NATURAL HEAT LIKE HUMAN BEINGS and in winter it was necessary to heat the gas chamber to reach the point at which hydrocyanic acid evaporates, 26° C." (uppercase emphasis mine)

A room tightly packed with naked people would quickly heat up.

Pressac found (and published) a letter addressed to Messrs Topf. regarding the possibility of preheating Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorien II and III.

He discusses this on pages 223, 227, 375 and 432. He notes,

{quote} The preheating of the Leichenkeller completely demolishes the revisionist argument according to which the Leichenkeller 1 were not gas chambers but "typical underground morgues". Why would anyone want to heat rooms that by definition ought to remain cool? This idea would be absurd if there had not been a change of function, transforming these rooms from morgues into gas chambers, where the temperature had to be high enough for the product introduced to vaporize rapidly. {endquote} (p. 432)

At Majdanek, this site says that hot air was blown in:

"There are two holes in the ceiling through which the Zyklon-B pellets could be dropped into the room and openings in the wall through which hot air was blown in, according to the guidebook."



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