|Name and surname||Mieczysław Kieta|
|Date and place of birth||30 December 1920, Kraków|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Relationship to the parties||none|
|Presiding Judge:||I am advising the witness in accordance with art. 107 of the Code of|
Criminal Procedure of the obligation to speak the truth. Making false declarations is punishable by conviction with a maximum penalty of 5-year imprisonment. Do the parties wish to swear in the witness?
Prosecutor Cyprian: We are exempting the witness from taking the oath.
Defense: As are we.
Witness: One night, toward the beginning of summer 1942, I was arrested together with my father by the Kraków Gestapo. On 17 or 18 August, we were taken to Auschwitz on a transport of a couple dozen people – including 40 criminals from the Święty Krzyż prison. It was in the afternoon.
We got off next to commandant Höß’s villa. We were picked up by some Blockführer [block leader], whose name I do not know. The entire group had to run about 500 meters to the camp gate. The prisoners were so weak that they could not keep up the pace. Those lagging behind – my father among them – were beaten by SS men and raised from the ground with kicks or the butts of rifles. After initial camp formalities, that is having all your belongings taken away and filling in the first forms, we underwent a sort of doctor’s interview in front of block 28. This was about entering under a proper rubric of a questionnaire the information pertaining to the prisoner’s weight and any gold teeth he had. After this formality, with no quarantine ordered, since that would have been at block 11, which was overcrowded, a few of us were assigned to block 23. Today, this block no longer exists: it was dismantled in September 1942. It was located between blocks 19 and 18. Other admission procedures took place in a barrack which was actually a stable, which could be inferred from the warning signs relating to diseases characteristic of horses.
Next morning, I came across suspect Müller for the first time. He was my first Blockführer. The roll call took place between blocks 16 and 17. Müller’s face was characteristic and as such it has burned into my memory. He rarely wore an SS cap, most often he wore a forage cap. On that first day, when our group arrived at the camp, we did not yet know all camp regulations applied by the block elders and Müller. A few prisoners from the first row who could not remove their caps and put them back on in time were beaten by the block elders and Müller. Next day, I saw on a few occasions people being beaten by defendant Müller. He would also often beat people with a board which listed the block’s number of inmates. Subsequently, I saw Müller at other blocks, but I had nothing to do with him.
Within a few days after my arrival at the camp, Lagerälteste [camp elder] Bruno moved me from the wooden barrack to the other end of the camp, where the women transferred to Birkenau had previously been kept. There, I met another defendant, Aumeier. Because I speak German, Lagerälteste Bruno assigned me to block 10, which was adjacent to block 11, as a cleaner, to clean things up after the women departed. These preparations were with a view to receiving the men from the other half of the camp, where selections had been carried out in the meantime.
During one such selection, which took place on 28 or 29 August, a couple of hundred healthy people were selected and transported to Birkenau. My father was among them. The roll call was very long then and finished around 1.00 a.m. The inspection of the rows took place by the kitchen and was attended by Rapportführer [report leader] Bruno, the Blockführer, SS men, and defendant Aumeier. I remember Aumeier’s face very well, because due to the darkness the roll call took place under the light from a handheld spotlight, which was held by the Rapportführer. During the roll call, all people who had any wounds on their legs, whose legs were bandaged or swollen, or whose faces looked senile as a result of exhaustion or, alternatively, from the process of recovery, were set aside to the left, by the kitchen. Kommando after kommando was thus inspected.
My second face-to-face encounter with Aumeier was when I was serving as a cleaner at block 10. I was very weak after the first few days at the camp, because this was the most difficult period for a prisoner. One day, I forgot to lock the door of the room I was responsible for. During the roll call, it turned out that there was one prisoner missing at our block. The roll-call dragged on. An order was issued at the Rapportführer’s table to inspect every block. In the course of inspecting our block, it turned out that this man was hiding under one of the beds in my room. Then, an order was issued at the Rapportführer’s table that the following persons report to him: myself, the block elder, and the culprit, who was a man suffering from very serious diarrhea, and who, unable to make it until the end of the roll call, had run to the block and hidden there. We all came up to the Rapportführer’s table, which was located by the kitchen. At the table were the Rapportführer, defendant Aumeier, a man probably named Hössler, I believe, and Lagerälteste Bruno. Aumeier dashed toward the block elder, hit him in the face and asked him who the duty prisoner was. The block elder pointed at me. Then, Aumeier dashed toward me, trying to punch me in the face, but because this was difficult as a result of our very different heights, he started kicking me in the stomach so I doubled up, and then I got such a heavy blow in the face that I went down. Aumeier gave the order that we all be handed 25 whip blows each.
We were pulled into block 3. There was a provisional emergency room on the left. The block elder received his punishment first. I heard him count: he got to 18 and was released. Then they pulled me in, spread my legs, and Bruno began administering the punishment. It was not a beating with a rod but with a thick electrical wire encased in lead. I was counting, trying not to make a mistake, and I got to 23, after which I was released, and on parting I was hit in the face and asked if I knew what I had been punished for. To avoid further beating, I answered in the positive. The third victim, the sick man, was so weak he could not count; he got several dozen blows and was thrown off the block and to the ground.
Block 10 was very unpleasant, because it was directly adjacent to block 11. These blocks were connected with a yard, in which executions were carried out. As regards executions, some comrades said they took place at block 11, and according to other accounts, they were outside the camp. One day, cleaning the last room on the right, at the far end of block 10’s corridor, I heard terrible screams coming from the yard next to block 11. The windows giving on to that location were covered with shutters which had slits. I heard screams coming from there, in Polish and Czech. I was watching through a slit. I saw naked people being driven from behind the bathroom’s stairs and toward the wall, who were being shot at by SS men. I am not sure who these people were. They fired small rifles, in the back of the head. Two undertakers immediately proceeded to drag the corpses aside. During one such execution, I saw Aumeier. One of those awaiting the execution broke free, fell at Aumeier’s feet, and, judging by his gestures, he begged for his life, but Aumeier kicked him and shot at him from a gun.
Another type of execution was hanging prisoners at the gallows, more or less in front of block 5 or 6. This was a public execution, in which Aumeier aided. Then, Aumeier gave a speech, standing on the stairs of block 5 or 6, and informed the prisoners multiple times that “we do not want your death but your labor”. These words have stuck with me. Young prisoners clung at any such word breathing hope. After this speech, Aumeier again went to a selection to block 20 and two days later there was an execution of a painter, whom I know, who had been apprehended during an attempted escape. When he was approaching the gallows, he stopped by the front row and said, “Well, guys, quite a way to begin the day”.
Subsequently, I saw Aumeier when, after the evacuation of Riga, or some other concentration camp for which he departed in spring 1943, he reappeared at Auschwitz, on a temporary basis, but apparently, the Lagerführer’s old habits got the better of him and he liked aiding in the departure of working kommandos by the Blockführerstube [block leader’s office]. Aumeier’s appearance caused great confusion at the camp: everybody dreaded his return and prisoners had greeted his departure to the West with great relief.
From among the other defendants present, I also know defendant Schumacher. Seeing his build and his face, I can remember which camp I saw him at. It was in 1942, in October, maybe even the end of October. One Sunday, block elders and kapos gathered all prisoners against whom penal reports had been filed in the past; they gathered all prisoners who, as we prisoners put it, used to “wriggle out” of duty; they gathered the weaker of the prisoners; the prisoners they did not like – and assembled a few large working columns. They departed to Birkenau, to the railway ramp, where a large transport of potato wagons had arrived. These potatoes were to be buried in a huge field in so-called mounds, to preserve them over winter. At the head of the working columns were Vorarbeiters, i.e. work leaders from different kommandos, who were put in charge of small working teams for works connected with potatoes. This work was done as follows: some of the people stood on the wagons and unloaded the potatoes on the ramp with shovels or pitchforks, while others were issued with sacks into which the potatoes were loaded, and still other people had carrier boxes: these were small wooden boxes with very small handles so that your arms touched your hips and the weight made it extremely difficult to carry such boxes. The road to the mounds was very long, it was maybe 700 or 800 meters. The work looked as follows: carrying the sack or the box full of potatoes, you had to run along the rows of block SS men and Vorarbeiters standing close to one another. Burying the potatoes was done with hands, mostly. A chilly wind was blowing that day. Icy snow was falling and after a few minutes your hands got so numb that there was absolutely no way to dig through the frozen soil. The SS men organized hunts accompanied with battue. I saw the following incidents, which mostly happened to Jews and Soviet prisoners, but to Poles as well: an SS man would call a prisoner who was standing in a row, throw a cap and order the prisoner to run toward it, and then fire at him. I saw a number of such cases. I saw defendant Schumacher during a lunch break, when a completely frozen soup was served and all Vorarbeiters had gathered: he was taking it out on people for not working productively. I saw him severely beat a prisoner. The outcome of this ill-fated Sunday was a dozen or so corpses per each hundred, per each working team.
In the accused box is also defendant Münch, a doctor working at the Hygiene Institute. I saw him for the first time at the Hygiene Institute at Rajsko in summer 1943. This happened as follows. At one point, an assembly was ordered downstairs, by the laboratory building. This was on the orders of Unterführer Weber. The prisoners at the laboratory formed a row, and, standing in front of the prisoners, Weber announced that a new collaborator had arrived, then in the low rank of Rottenführer – Dr. Münch. Dr. Münch made a gesture as if he wanted to greet people; it was apparent he had not as yet grasped the concept of the camp SS men’s methods. He did not stay long, then he left and came again for a couple of days, already as an Oberscharführer. And finally, in 1943, he was posted permanently to us. From that period, I remember spells when Münch was filling in for Weber, who would often leave on official business.
Prisoners trusted him somewhat. The way this was manifested was that prisoner- laboratorians worked at this scientific facility together with SS men who were bakers, wheelers, pastry cooks or room painters by trade. These SS men, capitalizing on Webber’s presence, harassed Polish specialists, university professors, members of scientific institutes, such as Pasteur Institute (Dr. Lewin). With Dr. Münch, the work went smoothly. I remember an incident whereby in Münch’s absence two Unterscharführers, Fugger and Sobien, burst into block two, which was occupied by women, and ordered an inspection ordering women to undress. The women protested vigorously. One of them, Dr. Umschweif, filed a complaint with Münch, and such incidents never happened again.
Then, another incident. When on 1 January 1944 I was at block 11, Dr. Modelski fell ill (his first name was Stefan or Zygmunt): he had severe diarrhea and no medication available at the camp helped. When Dr. Korn, our kapo, asked defendant Münch to issue some medication, Münch produced a little bottle of alcohol and made an injection, but unfortunately it did not help and Dr. Modelski died.
In 1944, the activities at the Hygiene Institute began to intensify. Mass examinations started to be performed, and if the results were negative, the transport was sent to Treblinka. Such a transport, deemed dangerous to the immediate surroundings, was gassed. In 1944, on Weber’s orders, the Institute performed – aside from urine, blood, and feces tests – mass testing for malaria, which included all prisoners. There were studies into venereal diseases, especially lues, with the use of the new Schebiek method.
In early fall 1944, defendant Münch studied rheumatism. I am familiar with this case, since two of my comrades were Przybylski, a smith, and a man from Łódź, both suffering from very advanced rheumatism. They were moved from block 20 to block 9. When I spoke to Przybylski and asked him if he needed anything, if he wanted to return to the camp or stay there, since my connections could get him an extended stay at the hospital, he told me that he had had enough of injections and these experiments and wanted to return to work. As regards the other prisoner, the one from Łódź, he was a Jew from the ghetto – he had a high fever and I do not know what happened to him. Probably, following the injections, he died of TB, having been moved to block 20.
In fall 1944, I did not so much fall ill as, because of an operation by the resistance that was being formed at the camp, I tried to fake sickness. In the morning, before I left for the laboratory, I gave myself an injection, and when I reached the laboratory, I had a fever of 41 degrees Celsius. I reported this to Dr. Münch, and he was ready to drive me to the camp in a car and ordered me to stay in bed. It was about feigning sickness. I had visits from Weber, Münch, and others every day, anyway. My comrades convinced me to return to work. Dr. Münch insisted in particular, promising me better food and comfortable quarters, if I just returned to work. However, when a forced transport or evacuation of Poles to the west was looming, wanting to remain at the camp until the end, I wanted to have a laboratory post to my name. On 25 October, I was moved to Birkenau, and from there, in a group of 12 people, we were to be sent to work at the laboratory at Gross-Rosen, or actually near Wrocław. On 13 November, I was transported to Gross-Rosen.
This is everything I can say about the defendants whom I know.
Presiding Judge: You were an Institute employee. What was the character of this Institute?
Witness: The Hygiene Institute was set up in early spring 1943. Weber then came in, with his team of Fugger, Pungen, and Kapl. The first laboratory was at block 10. This was the block adapted for the studies of Prof. Clauberg from Wrocław. Weber wanted the Institute and part of the laboratory up and running fast; e.g. serology, histology, and Wassermann’s station were set up at block 10.
I was then taken on by the Institute by sheer coincidence, because they needed someone who could typewrite. At that time, I was an orderly at block 20. In the room where Fugger and Pungen worked, there was a blood collection point. There was a group of patients set aside to have their blood collected. They were to be treated better and received more food, but at that time it had only been a promise rarely kept. People were eager to get to blood collection points since this entailed a roof over their heads, lying in bed and not going to work.
I started to work in the second building of the camp authorities. This is the building in the middle, opposite the Political Department. Its attic served as a storage space. Initial preparations for the Institute’s opening were made and an assortment of medical instruments was delivered, mostly sent from medical instruments stores in Berlin. These instruments, such as, e.g., centrifuges, bore original seals and logos of French companies from Paris. They had already been used for some time. Before Easter 1943, we were transferred to Rajsko.
There, in a two-storied modern building, individual laboratories started to be set up. By April 1940, some laboratories from block 10 had been moved, such as Wassermann’s laboratory, histology, and the most important one: bacteriology. The initial studies were conducted by the following team: Weber, Fugger, Pungen, Wohlfram, and Frau von Vollkammer, a trainee from Berlin.
The initial studies were bacteriology-oriented. At first, samples were supplied by camp hospitals, not only from Auschwitz but also its sub-camps, and even from Pustków and Gross-Rosen. Many samples were supplied by the SS hospitals Kraków, Zakopane, Krynica, and Rabka. The original name of the institute was Hygienisch-Bakteriologische Untersuchungsstelle der Waffen-SS – Südost. Each laboratory had its own working schedule, prepared by Weber. Bacteriology examined bloods, spittle, feces, and urine. Histology provided pieces of flesh for analysis and at one point it studied noma, which was extremely widespread at the Gypsy camp and afflicted mostly children and the old.
It was early summer 1943. At that time, a number of selections was carried out at the bacteriology department. These selections provided various samples, which Weber treated as showcase items. For instance, I saw special jars containing skin fragments from children’s cheeks, which showed the development of noma, from early to final stages.
In two or three jars (I do not remember exactly) were three heads of children aged 4 to 8, cut off from the torsos and preserved in formalin. In a sense this was a big camp attraction and a lot of SS men came to the Institute; on many occasions Weber or Fugger would show visitors around, e.g. Caesar or his wife, SS men from other camps, SS doctors etc.
On the first floor, next to histology, the culture medium kitchen was located – there, culture mediums were prepared to develop bacterial cultures. Many culture mediums were there for a longer period, e.g. agar-agar, gelatin, and others which I cannot recall. The most “interesting” culture medium was the one which Weber used toward the end of May or June – it was so-called Menschenbouillon. On a few occasions, SS men Weber, Fugger, and Saber – i.e. the ones who were present in the course of this kind of activities – brought, on a motorcycle or sometimes in Weber’s car, fresh meat in buckets. We were sure that this was horse meat, or alternatively beef, or some sort of animal meat, in any case. This meat was used for bullion, which was cooked in digesters and then filtered through paper filters into huge 10-15-liter flasks. On the orders of SS men, the meat was to be discarded, but there were cases where it was eaten by the prisoners who operated the digesters – until a kapo, Dr. Korn, found a fragment of skin in one piece of this meat. The examination, visual and under the microscope, revealed that it was human skin.
This first period at the Hygiene Institute was difficult because the SS crew, most notably Weber and Fugger (especially the latter, who was the malicious spirit of the Institute), came up with assorted forms of harassing the prisoners, e.g. unleashing dogs on them. Additionally, Fugger imposed strict cleanliness checks after work was finished for the day. These checks were excessive, since Fugger even inspected electrical wires and the ceiling for traces of dust – and if he found out, having swiped his finger across a given object, that a few specks were indeed there, that was grounds enough to draw consequences.
As regards the Institute’s purview, the serology department conducted studies into the extraction of globulin from blood in the form of a substance. This discovery was made by Dr. Jakub Lewi from the Pasteur Institute. Serology produced serum to determine the blood type. The blood collection point was to supply blood for these purposes. Additionally, I know that human blood collected at block 11 directly after executions was supplied during the initial period of the Institute’s operations. On a few occasions, it was brought by Sabel and Fugger. I know this, having connected the dots. Fugger and Saber were very anxious when they left for such operations to collect the flesh and blood of executed prisoners; it was necessary to prepare for them a set of dissection tools, flasks, buckets etc., all at the same time. The undertakers aiding in executions said that on a few occasions they had seen Weber and Fugger during such operations. This was in June or July 1943.
Presiding Judge: That will be all.
Judge Zembaty: How many German doctors worked at the Hygiene Institute?
Witness: They were Webber…
Judge Zembaty: … give the number, please.
Judge Zembaty: Did the German doctors take part in selections?
Witness: I don’t know, but I don’t think so.
Judge Zembaty: They played no part at all?
Witness: I do not think so, because if some of them had, then the prisoners would have known about it, just as they knew that Fugger and Weber collected thighs and prepared buttocks for Menschenbouillon at block 11.
Judge Zembaty: Do you know why they did not take part in selections? Were they exempt from this duty or was it for other reasons?
Witness: In my opinion, this facility – judging by certain signs – was independent from the camp. My impression was that Weber had little say in what was going on at the Institute, because he answered directly to Mrugowski in Berlin.
Judge Zembaty: Do you know what the difference is between the so-called Waffen-SS, Allgemeine-SS and Totenkopf-SS?
Witness: To an extent, yes.
Judge Zembaty: Was defendant Münch with Waffen-SS, Allgemeine-SS, or Totenkopf-SS?
Witness: I think he was with Waffen-SS, similarly to Weber.
Judge Zembaty: Did he tell you, or anyone else, how he joined the Waffen-SS?
Witness: One story, which I find hard to believe, which I heard from Rottenführer Kapmajer, was that if Münch had not joined the SS, he would be wearing the same clothes that I was.
Judge Zembaty: And did you speak to Przybylski after he finished his injection treatment? Did his condition improve?
Witness: I don’t know because I was transferred out of the camp.
Judge Zembaty: You have stated that Aumeier took part in selections, as a result of which your father, among other people, was transferred to Birkenau.
Witness: Because I wanted to get any kind of information about what had become of these people – not only of my father – I would ask anyone who had had any contact with that camp; I was told that these prisoners were assigned duties at Birkenau, but it was hard to believe that sick people should have been moved to Birkenau, because the labor there was very hard. I had been searching for any traces of these people for quite a while, until I found out that they had been exterminated.
Judge Zembaty: What may have been their number?
Witness: Between 400 and 500.
Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions?
Prosecutor Szewczyk: You have stated that on arriving at Auschwitz with other prisoners, gold teeth were – so to speak – “inventoried” when you were all processed in. Were you instructed not to remove these teeth because they were now the property of the German state?
Witness: I did not see any such instruction.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: Do you know if getting rid of such a tooth was grounds for punishing the prisoner?
Witness: Yes, I know of a case where one prisoner, wanting to buy bread or soup at the canteen, pulled out a gold tooth, was caught in the act, taken to the Political Department, and probably executed. I do not know what happened to him exactly.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: You have stated that you started to work at the Hygiene Institute around Easter 1943. Where did you work before?
Witness: I worked as an orderly at block 20, the contagious diseases block at the Stammlager [main camp], at the worst ward, where patients with scarlet fever etc. were treated.
Prosecutor Szewczyk: Briefly describe the conditions at block 20, please.
Witness: Block 20 consisted of two parts: the first floor and the second floor. On the first floor were four small rooms which could accommodate between 50 and 60 people on three bunks. Upstairs, there were two huge rooms: numbers 8 and 10.
I first came to the hospital on 15 October 1942, when I had contracted abdominal typhus. I had a fever of close to 41 degrees Celsius and still went to work for six days, because my comrades did not want to let me go to the hospital: the stories, true stories, about “pinning”, phenol injections, and selections acted as a deterrent. Finally, I went to the hospital. It looked as follows: the prisoner was ordered into the admission room, where next to the sewage lay dead people. When I got inside, it turned out I had a high fever and I was expelled outdoors. It was 7 or 7.30 a.m. You had to strip naked and tie your clothes in a bundle. Then we were driven to the admission room, where a crowd of naked people in a cold room awaited a bath. In the beds lay people in agony. Time and again I saw dying people stretchered out in threes. We were taken to the bathroom in pairs or groups of three. There was no hot water. You bathed for the sake of it, in a few drops of cold water. Then, the prisoners returned to the room, where they had numbers written on their torsos, and were then taken to the admission room. There, the doctor in charge would examine patients. Very often, it was Klehr himself who did this. It was up to him if the patient would be admitted to the hospital or terminated straight away. I saw as they put aside the medical charts of people who were to be placed under the special custody of “Professor Klehr”. These observations of mine were borne out during my six-month stint at the contagious diseases ward.
Then I was taken to block 20. Each bed was shared. The room was divided into four wards. There may have been 40 beds in one ward, three or four prisoners per bed. The worst situation was in the corner of the room occupied by patients suffering from erysipelas, typhus, TB, and internal diseases. I witnessed horrendous scenes in this room. People were actually skeletons. Examinations were performed by Entress and Klehr, the latter, without actually examining the patient, asking, “Jude, Russe, Polak?” – and that was enough to set them aside. Once, I saw a miner from Silesia come to the Schonung [exemption block], and, seeing what he was in for, he sprang to attention before Klehr and tried to explain that he was fit for work. Klehr asked him if he was German. The miner said he was not, and that was enough.
As regards block 20, he was infamous. This block housed “Professor Klehr’s” laboratory, where the so-called “pinning” took place. Some 170 or 180 people were pinned, a Gypsy king from Romania among them. This memory has stuck with me because this man was 118 years of age. Klehr summoned me into the room and sent me to fetch this man’s files to verify this fact. Then, a curfew was imposed at the block. Nobody was allowed to go out. The number of the dead was so high that the rollwagen, a special cart pulled by medical assistants, had to return a few times.
Still concerning block 20, Polish children from the Lublin area were pinned here in summer 1943. They were brought to the yard between blocks 20 and 21, a couple of dozen of them. They were boys aged 8 to 12. When they were dropped at the yard, they threw snowballs. Around 1.00 p.m., they were taken to Klehr’s emergency room after he arrived. All that was left of them were heaps of clothes and shoes, which were then taken to the inventory.
There were periodic selections carried out at block 20. That so-called big selections were coming could be gleaned from a large number of prisoners at the block, for example when this number exceeded 1,500. If prisoners could not be fitted into the available beds everybody knew that a big selection was forthcoming. It was usually carried out in the presence of the Lagerartz [camp doctor] and his aides. On the day after the selection, patients designated for termination were taken into the corridor and awaited the vans. Such a selection covered all blocks. The prisoners were then loaded onto vans and transported to Birkenau.
It is very symptomatic that the camp authorities often issued these people, designated for termination, with their final portions of bread and with clothes. Many thought they were going to a different kommando, that is to a different camp. This is what was going on at block 20.
Presiding Judge: Has defendant Aumeier heard the charges leveled against him? Does he confess to these charges?
Defendant Aumeier: I cannot possibly confess to everything the witness has stated. I would like to ask the witness a few questions.
Presiding Judge: Please answer my question first – Did you shoot a prisoner? Please state, yes or no.
Defendant Aumeier: I do not confess to this.
Presiding Judge: Does the witness maintain his statement?
Witness: Yes, I do.
Presiding Judge: I am ordering a break of ten minutes.