The tenth day of the trial, 4 December 1947.
The Chairman: The next witness, Edward Styś.
The witness: Edward Styś, 25 years old, student at the School of Economics, Roman Catholic, with no relationship to the parties.
The Chairman: I remind the witness that he should speak the truth. Making false statements is punishable by a custodial sentence of up to five years. Do the parties submit any proposals regarding the way in which to hear the witness?
Prosecutors and defense attorneys: We absolve the witness from swearing an oath.
The Chairman: The witness will give his testimony without swearing an oath. What, if anything, can the witness tell us about the defendants? With regard to which of them can the witness testify?
The witness: I know many of them. I met them during my five-year detainment in the concentration camp.
The Chairman: The witness is summoned to testify mainly with regard to Koch’s case. So maybe you can tell us something about Koch.
The witness: I met the defendant in the SS infirmary where he worked as a nurse assigned to what was known as Dezinfectionskommando. The unit’s tasks involved gassing people and delousing the uniforms used by SS men. The defendant Koch was employed to perform the first of these tasks. In 1942 – if I am not mistaken because it also may have been 1943 – at the end or at the beginning of the fall, I saw Koch actively participate in the gassing of about 200 people – Jews, if I am not mistaken – by pouring gas through the crematorium’s openings. The gassing took place in the old crematorium. I watched what was going on from the SS infirmary set up in the building on the opposite side of the road, and I saw everything very clearly. Two cars that had pulled over in front of the crematorium were unloaded by SS men. The unloading was carried out in the presence of Aumeier, Grabner, Kischner and many others from the political department who are absent from this room now. Prisoners were made to undress and were then taken to the crematorium. Koch went inside, accompanied by two SS men: Wosnitzka and, if I am not wrong, Unterscharführer Theuer. They all went into the crematorium wearing gas masks. They opened the gas cans, poured the gas inside, closed the crematorium openings and went downstairs. The unearthly screams of those who were being gassed could be heard coming from inside the crematorium. The engine of the car parked next to the crematorium was immediately started to muffle the screams. After a few minutes the ventilator was opened to clear the gas chamber of the gas and to remove the bodies. That is what I have to say about the defendant Koch.
The Chairman: Are there any questions regarding the witness’ testimony?
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did Koch try to keep the fact of his involvement in gassing people secret? Did he talk or brag about what he was doing with his colleagues in the sick room?
The witness: No, he didn’t keep it secret. Once as I was cleaning the office (I worked there as a cleaner), I heard the defendant, upon his return to his normal duties in Schreibstube [administrative office] where he met his boss Klehr, in responding to the question from his colleagues, say that they had had a tough time gassing several tens of thousands of Jews.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: The witness has now said that the gassing of about 200 Jews took place either in 1942 or 1943. During the earlier investigation he had mentioned 1942. Perhaps he could give us the precise date now?
The witness: I don’t remember if it was 1942 or 1943.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Did the witness also see Kirschner at that time?
The witness: Kirschner assisted in the process.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: What do you mean by “assisted”? Did he watch or was he actively involved?
The witness: He watched, just like many others.
Prosecutor Pęchalski: Regarding Koch, the witness has said that he often took part in the gassing. Can the same be said of Kirschner?
The witness: No. I didn’t see Kirschner taking part in the gassing.
Defense attorney Czerny: Did the witness see Koch taking part in the gassing on a number of occasions or was it only once?
The witness: I saw it once and I heard people talk about it.
The defendant Koch: May I ask the witness one more question? I have understood from the translation that this happened in the autumn of 1943?
The witness: I said that this had happened either in 1942 or 1943. It is difficult for me to determine the chronology of all the facts that I witnessed.
The defendant Koch: I wish to add that I didn’t contact the head of the camp Aumeier in any formal capacity, and I had nothing to do with him. The same goes both for head of the political section Grabner and for Kirschner whom I met only in the work distribution office where he filled out our passes. I never used the phrase like, “I am exhausted because of the transports”. I would never have used such a phrase in prisoners’ presence. Your Honor can believe me that if I had been involved in doing this, I wouldn’t have mentioned it in prisoners’ presence.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Defense attorney Rappaport: I would like to ask the witness a question. The witness was in Auschwitz for a longer period of time. Did the witness meet a driver Dinges during his detention in the camp?
The witness: I am familiar with the name but I never met him.
Defense attorney Rappaport: So you don’t know anything about what he did?
The witness: No, I don’t.
The defendant Kirschner: Your Honor, please ask the witness if he isn’t wrong about the person because it was Kirschner who was in the political department and my name is mentioned along with Burger and Lachman.
The witness: It wasn’t this Kirschner.
The defendant Kirschner: In this connection I wish to note that I had nothing to do with the process of gassing.
The Chairman: Are there any questions?
Defense attorney Czerny: Were there more people by the name Kirschner?
The witness: There was one in the political department.
The Chairman: The witness is free to go.