On 16 September 1947 in Kraków, a member of the Kraków District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, Municipal Judge Dr. Henryk Gawacki, acting upon written request of the first prosecutor of the Supreme National Tribunal, this dated 25 April 1947 (file no. NTN 719/47), and in accordance with the provisions of and procedure provided for under the Decree of 10 November 1945 (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 51, item 293) in connection with Article 254, 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, interviewed the former inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, named below, as a witness, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Ludwik Nagraba|
|Age||37 years old|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Bosacka Street 9, flat 2|
|Relationship to the parties||none|
I was incarcerated in the Auschwitz camp from 15 February 1941 to 26 October 1944 as Polish political prisoner no. 2549 and was then transferred to the camp in Buchenwald. At the beginning of my stay in Auschwitz I underwent a six-week quarantine. Then for some four months I was employed in Entwesungskammer [disinfection chamber], and later I was assigned to the so-called Sonderkommando [special unit] in Birkenau where for the first 11 months I worked at the railway ramp where the transports of prisoners were unloaded. Having suffered and recovered from typhus and paratyphoid, I continued to work in the Sonderkommando in the crematorium located to the right of the railway ramp when looking from the entrance gate into the camp. In May 1944, I was discharged from work and, together with a group of other prisoners destined for death, I was kept in strict isolation in the building of this crematorium. When the building of the crematorium was blown up, we were kept in a barrack in section D in Birkenau. I avoided execution in the camp in Buchenwald because I managed to flee.
In the crematorium in Birkenau I worked as a kapo of a kommando which consisted of Jews of various nationalities except Poles. This kommando comprised approx. 700 people. Our tasks included emptying the gas chambers, burning corpses in furnaces – first we had to cut their hair and pull out their teeth – and checking female bodies for hidden valuables. In this crematorium I worked with Mieczysław Morawa, who was an Oberkapo of the so-called Heizers [stokers], also Jews. The gas chamber itself was operated by the SS men. At the time when I worked in the crematorium, I went to both the camp in Birkenau and the parent camp with a roll-wagon in order to transport corpses to the crematorium. I would do this on a nearly daily basis.
I don’t remember the exact date, but one day in the autumn of 1942, I went to the parent camp to fetch corpses and witnessed the hanging of 12 Polish prisoners, surveyors from Bauleitung [building department]. I was standing some 4 meters from the gallows (an iron rail supported on posts) and saw how Aumeier personally removed the stools from under the feet of the condemned and pulled the hanging men by the legs. One of the condemned, some twenty-year-old boy, kicked the stool away himself and hanged with the words “Long live Poland!” on his lips. Roused by this incident, Aumeier began to remove the stools from under the other prisoners. On the following day, I witnessed yet another execution of four prisoners; I was standing similarly close to the gallows and saw Aumeier press a pedal opening the trapdoor beneath the condemned men’s feet.
When I worked in the crematorium in Birkenau, I came across Muhsfeldt, whom I recognize beyond doubt in the photograph presented to me. Muhsfeldt was hardly ever sober and whenever he ran short of alcohol, he would order that anything to drink be brought to him from the suitcases and valises of the Jews who had just arrived in a transport. He would beat the working Jews for the slightest offence (failure to clean something thoroughly, remnants of clothing, etc.) and from what he said – that Jews must be destroyed all over the world – it could be inferred that he burned with hate for the Jews. During the gassing he always walked with a gun in one hand and a bull-whip in the other. He drove prisoners who were lagging behind into the gas chamber by using his whip and firing his pistol. I didn’t see much of Muhsfeldt later on.
Several times – three, maybe four – I went to bring corpses from the Political Department in the parent camp. Apart from that, Jews from my kommando in the crematorium would go fetch the bodies usually twice a week. The brought bodies bore marks of cruel torture; they were massacred and almost entirely black. Grabner, the head of the Political Department, was conducting the interrogations, and the corpses that we brought in were victims of his interrogations. At least two, three bodies would be brought each time, up to six. I very often saw Grabner himself during gassing in the crematorium.
I also know Dr. Kremer well – both in person and by name. He took part in selections on the railway ramp and also served in the crematorium. Both on the ramp and in the crematorium he would walk with a gun in his hand. He did so because the Germans feared resistance or escape on the part of the prisoners.
As for the camp commandant, Liebehenschel, I can only say that he released me from the bunker of block 11 where I was incarcerated for six weeks, following my arrest on 25 August 1943 and interrogations in the Political Department, in connection with the case against Muhsfeldt, who was accused of misappropriation of formerly Jewish valuables. All prisoners were then released from the bunker in block 11.
I came across suspect Monika Miklas, whom I recognize in the photograph presented to me, in the camp in Birkenau – I think it was in 1943. She supervised the female prisoners employed in the camp kitchen. Once, I witnessed how Miklas hit prisoners in the face with her hand – the women came to the kitchen to take the caldrons with food. These prisoners told me that Miklas had been beating them mercilessly for some time, without any reason at all.
Suspect Gertrude Zlotos, whom I recognize in the photograph presented to me, came to my assistance in the following way: in 1943 and 1944 she took my letters to my family in Kraków and brought me letters and packages from them. She took seven letters from me along with letters from my fellow inmates that I had given her. She brought me three letters and one package from my family as well as another food package, which she had made herself in Kraków. At a later date, one of my fellow inmates received a letter from his family which had been sent from her address. She did all of this selflessly. In April or May 1943, when I happened to cross the camp gate in Birkenau where suspect Zlotos was on duty, I saw some 70 prisoners, Slovakian Jewesses, gathered in a separate block situated by the said gate. Zlotos told me that these women were to be gassed, but that if they would not be taken until 4.00 p.m., she would release them from the block to the camp. She said that these prisoners were perfectly healthy, excluding maybe a few pimples on their arms and legs, which I saw myself as I peeped in out of curiosity. When I crossed the camp gate on the following day before noon, these prisoners were already gone from that block, and Zlotos told me that she had released them to the camp on the afternoon of the previous day.
I recall very well and state firmly that I often came across suspects Hans Koch and Kirschner, nicknamed “Frog” due to his bandy legs, in the crematoria of Birkenau. I don’t know Kirschner’s name. Both of them held the posts of Gasmeisters and they were called thus by the Germans. Both of them always had a gas mask at hand and brought cans of cyclone in a backpack (usually Kirschner). I almost always had those cans in my hand once they were emptied because I had to put the discarded cans aside and later they were taken on a roll-wagon to the parent camp. When the gas chamber was closed, both Koch and Kirschner would go to the roof, put on gas masks, open the cans and dispose of their contents through an opening in the roof. When we talked, I asked them when my turn would come, i.e. when I would be gassed, to which they answered, “Wait a bit more”. I also remember that the last but one Sonderkommando, which consisted exclusively of Jewish prisoners and worked in crematorium III, wasn’t gassed as it was usually the case in one of the crematoria, but in a gas chamber located in a small red building next to the “Canada” warehouse. This chamber was used for the disinfection of clothes. I know this because I went there afterwards to transport the corpses of the gassed prisoners from thatkommando and burn them in crematorium II. That is where – I mean by that gas chamber – I met suspects Koch and “Frog” Kirschner wearing a gas mask. Suspect “Frog” Kirschner took a keen interest and was very much involved in the gassing. He was very active and quick and, some time later, he was promoted to the rank of Hauptscharführer.
At this point the interview and the report were concluded, read out and signed.