Sent to the Military Auditor Bacquelains
Ougrée, 10 February 1945
Commune of Ougrée
[Report] no. 2186
On 10 November 1945, there appeared before me the undersigned Henri Taton, police commissioner – police adjutant in Ougrée, a police agent reporting to us, Oscar Stevent, who pursuant to letter 360/4334/C.G. of the [Military] Auditor Bacquelaine dated 3 February 1945, attached here, heard:
Jean Joseph Lambert Janssens, born 30 March 1904 in Ougrée, residing at rue des Trixhes 158, who testified in French:
I was deported on 1 July 1941 to the Huy citadel. I remained there for about three months. I did not experience any mistreatment there. Then I was sent to the camp at Neuengamme in Germany, [where I remained until] October 1942, then to Dachau (until December 1942), further on to Auschwitz (until 18 January 1945), [from where] I was evacuated to Mauthausen ([until] around mid-February 1945) and to Ebaschwitz [?]. [I was there] until 2 May 1945 – the day I was liberated by American troops.
Having arrived at the train station in Neuengamme in October 1941 after three days and three nights in cattle cars that were not to be unlocked on any condition, like my companions I was beaten by SS men with the butts of their guns.
In the Neuengamme camp we were placed in quarantine for ten days. Then I was assigned to work, which consisted in digging in very wet terrain. We were clad in rubber boots without socks. Moreover, we were beaten by the SS men supervising us.
We would get up at 4.30 in the morning and the work ended at 7.30 p.m. As nourishment, we got a cup of tea in the morning, 0.75 l of hot water that they called soup at midday, and in the evening a quarter of a loaf of bread, around 250 g, [in addition to this] a spoonful of marmalade or 30 g of margarine or 15 g of sausage.
In this camp we were continually beaten by the SS men and kapos. I would like to cite the case of comrade René Delbrouck, a deputy: we were ordered to carry bricks from one place to another, each time having to take five [bricks], each of which weighed ca. 5 kg. On 19 June 1942 around 11 a.m., Delbrouck collapsed of exhaustion when performing this task. At that moment the SS men and kapo threw themselves at him and began to hit him with shovel handles. Carried by us to the camp hospital, René Delbrouck died on 20 June 1942. I cannot give any of the names of these camp thugs. The companions whose last names I am citing below died in the camp in the same conditions as René Delbrouck, but on different days:
Henri Brosse from Seraing, d. 11 January 1942,
Alphonse Joris from Ougrée, d. 30 January 1942,
Louis Renwa from Liège, d. 11 February 1942,
René Lens from Liège, d. 31 January 1942,
Marcel Wesmaël from Huy, d. 22 February 1942,
Thomas Mairy from Ougrée, d. 19 March 1942,
Richard Fabéré from Ougrée, d. 28 February 1942,
Henri Houlmont from Ougrée, d. 13 March 1942,
Léon Lesoile from Mons, d. 3 May 1942,
Georges Delloye from Huy, d. 6 May 1942,
Joseph Claes from Ougrée, d. 16 June 1942,
Théophile Delcommune from Ougrée, d. 12 June 1942,
Henri Brants from Sclessin-Ougrée, d. 15 June 1942,
Henri Strée from Ougrée, d. 18 July 1942
Then I was transferred to Dachau. I was part of a transport of sick people destined for the crematorium. At departure, we were 550, and at arrival there were only 380 of us left, the remainder had died along the way. During the journey, Lucien Renery from Angleur, who had phlegmon on his head and was lying exhausted in a corner of the train car, was suffocated by four German prisoners whom the SS men had forced to jump all over him.
After three and a half months at Dachau only 45 of the 380 people who had arrived [with my transport] remained alive. At Dachau all the SS men were very young, at most 20, but I don’t know any of the names.
In December 1942 I was transported to Auschwitz. I was put to work digging and unloading train cars. This was the Bauchof kommando. Of the 400–500 people going to work every morning, 10–15 would be carried back dead as a result of blows received during work and due to exhaustion. The food was the same as at Neuengamme.
Russians, old political prisoners who were among the hospital staff in the camp, respected me as a former fighter in Spain. Thanks to their efforts, I got the post of pharmacist in the camp infirmary.
400–600 people lost their lives daily in the camp, with 14–16,000 detained. I saw thousands of corpses of men, women, and children transported out of block 11, having been killed with a shot to the back of the head. These corpses were transported to block 28, [where] they awaited transport to the crematorium. In block 20, I saw sick prisoners standing in line, waiting to get a lethal injection to the heart administered by prisoner doctors overseen by the SS head doctor. I don’t know his name, but he was the one before doctor Klein, who is currently being tried. I saw experiments performed on male and female prisoners, for example removing reproductive organs etc. The names of the SS men who perpetrated these atrocities could be provided by Dr. Steinberg, who is currently in Paris, France, at rue de Navarre 5. In the last three months I saw the gassing of 600,000 Hungarians in the camp. As the Russians approached, the SS men ordered us to burn the death lists; they were in the possession of the Polish prosecutor Czacharski [?].
On 18 January 1945 I was evacuated in the direction of Mauthausen. There were thousands of us; we walked for three nights and three days in the freezing cold. For those on this transport, stopping was tantamount to death. Those who fell received a series of gunshots in the mouth.
Having arrived at Mauthausen, we had to sleep outdoors in the snow in the bitter cold; in addition to this we were beaten. After two days and two nights those who had not given up the ghost yet were placed in the quarantine block. This place, measuring 25 by 20 m, was supposed to hold 400 men or women. We remained there for ten days without as much as the possibility to lie down.
Then I was evacuated to Ebaschwitz [?] in Austrian Tyrol, where I was assigned to work building a tunnel through a mountain. We produced tank parts, the prisoners were beaten frequently, and of a total of 15–18,000 people around 500–600 died daily. This was happening around three months before liberation by the American army on 2 May 1945.
It must be noted that I have only cited a handful of cases of cruelty that I witnessed. I am not able to give a full account of everything, since I have spoken as sparingly as possible.
Concluded in Ougrée, date as above.