On 23 November 1947 in Kraków. Investigative judge Jan Sehn, member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, acting on the request of the Supreme National Tribunal prosecutors Tadeusz Cyprian and Jerzy Sawicki, in the presence of vice-prosecutor of the Kraków Court of Appeals Edward Pęchalski, 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 Professor Olbrycht as an expert witness, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Jan Olbrycht|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Nationality and citizenship||Polish|
|Occupation||Professor at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, permanently sworn expert of legal medicine, active member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, correspondent member of the French Society of Legal Medicine and Social Medicine, member of the International Academy of Legal Medicine and Social Medicine|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Słowackiego Avenue 16|
|I||was arrested in Kraków on 30 June 1942. After a police investigation, during which I was|
interned in the prison on Montelupich Street in Kraków, the Gestapo transported me to the Auschwitz concentration camp on 13 July 1942. I was imprisoned at that camp as political prisoner no. 46 688 until 18 January 1945. I was assigned to block 11 where I took care of internal order. I started to suffer from diarrhea, called Durchfall in the camp jargon, after a few weeks. I was moved as a patient to the infirmary in block 28. During my recovery, I worked segregating the medicine brought over to block 28 from “Canada.” That was the name given to the storehouse where the Germans kept all the items plundered from the prisoners who had been brought to the Auschwitz camp on mass rail transports to be exterminated in the gas chambers. In time, I took charge of the little pharmacy in the prison infirmary, officially called the Häftlings-Krankenbau (KB) [prisoners’ hospital] in the Auschwitz camp. I hid the fact that I am a doctor and a university professor for a long time. I would have risked death by letting that be known, for the intelligentsia – especially the Polish intelligentsia – was unconditionally destroyed under any pretext. I was unable, however, to keep my education and my work outside the camp a secret until the end of my internment in the camp. These circumstances came to light and from that time onwards the SS doctors at the camp also had me work as a pathologist.
Based on my own personal observations from my time in the Auschwitz concentration camp, on the collected materials I was given to examine by Kraków’s Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, and especially on the testimonies of witnesses interviewed by that Commission, as well as other documents, as a sworn medical examiner I declare the following in accordance with my own conscience and with the rules of the school and science of medicine:
On 1 October 1946, Rudolf Höß, the former longstanding commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, appointed to various positions in the German concentration camps prior to his arrival at Auschwitz and who fulfilled the role of the head of office D I, group D of the Main Office for the Economy and Administration for the SS, having been handed over to the Polish judicial authorities by the allied forces occupying Germany, wrote down the most important provisions of the concentration camp regulations (Lagerordnung für die Konzentrationslager) in his own hand. The verbatim contents of paragraph V of those regulations is as follows: Der Lagerarzt ist verantwortlich für die ärztliche Betreuung des gesammten Lagers, für alle sanitären u. hygienischen Einrichtungen. Mit besonderer Sorgfalt hat er die Hygiene des Schautzhaftlagers zu überwachen um vorbeugend jegliche Epidemie oder Seuche zu verhindern. Die Neuzugänge sind genauestens zu untersuchen, Verdächtige sofort dem Häftlingsrevier zuzuführen und zubeobachten. Die inder Häftlings-Küche sowie SS-Küche beschäftlingten Häftlinge unterstehen der ständigen ärztlichen Beobachtung auf ansteckende Krankheiten. Durch Stichproben überzeugt sich der Lagerarzt von der Reinlichkeit der Häftlinge. Die sich krank meldenden Häftlinge sind täglich dem Lagerarzt zur Untersuchung zu melden. Falls notwendig, überweist er kranke Häftlinge zur fachärztlichen Behandlung inein Krankenhaus. Simulanten, die sich vor der Arbeit drücken wollen, hat er zur Bestrafung zu melden. Für die Zahnärztliche Behandlung der Häftlinge steht ein Zahnarzt zur Verfügung. Die Notwendigkeit der Zahnärztlichen Behandlung hat der Lagerarzt zu bestätigen. Fortgesetzt hat sich der Lagerarzt von der Zubereitung und Qualität der Verpflegung inden Küchen zu überzeugen. Etwa eintretende Mängel hat er sofort dem Lagerkommandanten zu melden. Unfälle sind besonders sorgfältig zu behandlen um die volle Erwerbsfähigkeit des Häftlinge nicht zu beeinträchtigen. Zur Entlassung kommende oder zu überstellende Häftlinge sind dem Lagerarzt zur Untersuchung vorzustellen. Dem Lagerarzt unterstehen die zugeteilten Ärzte, Zahnarzt Sanitätsdienstgrade sowie des Häftlings-Pflege-Personal des Häftlingsreviers. Der Lagerarzt ist der Berater des Lagerkommandanten inallen Ärztlichen, sanitären u. hygienischen Angelegenheiten. Alle ihm bekannt werdenden Misstände [sic!] im Lager hat er sofort dem Lagerkommandanten zu melden. Die von ihm zu erstellenden ärztlichen Berichte an die vorgesetzte Dienststelle hat er dem Lagerkommandanten zur Kenntnisnahme vorzulegen. [The camp doctor is responsible for the medical supervision of the whole camp and of the sanitary and hygienic equipment. He is to monitor the hygiene of the detention camp with particular care in order to prevent any kind of epidemic or plague. Newcomers are to be thoroughly examined, suspect individuals are to be taken immediately to the inmates’ ward for observation. Those inmates assigned to work in the prisoner kitchen as well as in the SS kitchen are to be under constant medical observation for infectious diseases. The camp doctor is to confirm the cleanliness of the prisoners via random examinations. Prisoners declaring themselves sick are to report to the camp doctor once a day for examination. If necessary, the camp doctor is to refer the sick inmates to the infirmary for specialist treatment. Malingerers seeking to avoid their work are to report for punishment. A dentist is available to provide the inmate with dental treatment. The necessity of dental treatment is to be confirmed by the camp doctor. The camp doctor is to continually monitor the preparation and quality of the food in the kitchens. Any irregularities that occur are to be reported to the camp commandant immediately. Accidents are to be handled with particular care so as not to impair the prisoner’s full capacity to work. Inmates who are to be released or transferred must be brought before the camp doctor for examination. The assigned doctors, dental medical staff and the inmate nursing staff from the prisoner infirmary are
All of these regulations were adopted only in theory by the Auschwitz concentration camp and the SS men serving in the camp, as the following was the reality in the Auschwitz camp:
1. Newcomers to the camp were not subjected to a medical examination; the prisoners from a given transport were all squeezed into cramped rooms regardless of their health, despite the fact that these transports often included people who were very emaciated or who had been maltreated during investigations immediately prior to their internment in the camp. The documents I was present with contained a report (Ärztliche
Aufnahmeuntersuchung [medical admission examination]), the contents of which claimed that the camp doctor sent written declarations to the camp commandant’s staff that the new arrivals had undergone a medical examination. That form contains a statement that the prisoners were not found to be in ill health (ein krankhafter Befund wurde nichterhoben).
2. The prisoners’ living conditions created by the camp authorities were catastrophic throughout the camp’s existence. According to the explanation given by former camp commandant Rudolf Höß, 700, 1,000 and sometimes even 1,200 prisoners were crammed into blocks designed to hold 400 prisoners in the main camp (Stammlager).
The calculation of the cubage of such a block, based on the dimensions given in the authentic plan of block 11, shows that each prisoner crowded into the building had around 2 m3 of air. The conditions were even worse in the Birkenau branch of the Auschwitz camp in this regard. Horse barracks (Pferdestallbaracke) of the 260/9 type were standard for that camp. Those barracks were calculated to be able to house 300 prisoners. The letter dated 14 July 1944 from the director of the clothes storehouse indicates that 1,000–1,200 prisoners were crammed in, such that after subtracting the areas for the senior block prisoner, the kapo and the food store, each prisoner had around 0.28 m2 of space and around 0.75 m2 of air. According to § 285 of the decree from the Polish Ministry of Justice dated 20 June 1931, (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 71, item 577), “The air capacity for each prisoner must be no less than: 13 m2 in shared cells, 18 m2 in single-person cells. Over the winter period, areas occupied by prisoners must be heated and their temperature must not fall below 14°C with a relative humidity of no more than 75%.” Although the prisoners were industrious enough to heat the main camp’s brickwork blocks, which were equipped with ovens, it was quite impossible to do so in the Birkenau camp. The barracks there were equipped with primitive tin ovens from the OT [Organisation Todt] organization. They were surrounded with bricks and their chimneys had been built to run across the whole barrack and, according to commandant Höß’s thinking, were supposed to heat the interior with the warmth from flue gases. Those barracks were built from wooden planks and were not insulated for winter or summer. Initially, there were no floors in the blocks and, at the time of my arrival at the camp, not all of the blocks had been equipped with beds: the prisoners slept on straw mattresses laid out on the ground, five to every two mattresses, and sometimes more, covered with a threadbare blanket big enough for two or three people. In the latter period of its existence, water systems and toilets were installed in the main camp and served as a sewage system. These systems had not been fully installed in Birkenau by the end of that camp’s existence. However, it often happened that there was no water in the main camp, even during the latter period, which meant that the prisoners could not wash themselves and maintain a sufficient level of personal hygiene. Providing prisoners with clean water was a catastrophe during the hot summer months. The water in all of the Auschwitz camp was undrinkable. Professor Zunker from Wrocław, who tested its properties, wrote in his findings dated 23 June 1941, that the water used in the Auschwitz camp was not even suitable to rinse out one’s mouth. Barrels of chlorinated water were set in front of the blocks in the Auschwitz camp and the prisoners were allowed to make use of it by means of a pot hanging up by the barrels. There was no such system in Birkenau; the prisoners suffered from thirst (witness Wolken) and the female prisoners bathed themselves using the coffee they received at breakfast (witnesses Szmaglewska, Kossak-Szczucka). The men’s camp in Birkenau was divided into different sections of 32 barracks each. All the sections were separated from one another with barbed wire. There were 3 bathroom-barracks for the whole of one of those sections. The time a prisoner was allowed to make use of these primitive facilities was strictly regulated and monitored by the workers assigned to a special kommando. Around 30% of all the prisoners suffered from diarrhea and so those barracks were very
3. The clothes issued to the prisoners did not effectively protect the body from atmospheric influences, especially cold and humidity, and there was only one kind of uniform for both the prisoners working inside as well as for those assigned to work in the open air regardless of the weather. The shoes especially did not adhere to hygienic requirements. The majority of the prisoners worked in wooden clogs which caused the skin to be rubbed off. In addition to these abrasions were also infections and deep inflammation caused by the previously mentioned unhygienic conditions. These made up around 80% of all illnesses (witness Grabczyński). Both the regulation underwear and the prisoners’ own underclothes were changed rarely and irregularly; they were washed without care and it so happened that a prisoner received a change of underwear that was infested with lice.
Based on the collected materials presented to me by Kraków’s Main Commission, and especially on the testimonies of the witnesses assigned to work in the prison kitchens, on the testimonies of the prisoner doctors who assisted the German doctor in researching the camp food and taking samples from the cooking pots, and finally on authentic German documents, in particular from the records of the hygiene laboratory in Rajsko, it can be said that the food given to the prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp did not fulfill the most basic requirements of hygiene either in terms of quality or of quantity. The meat that was delivered to the prison kitchens to be added to the soup was very often spoiled, covered with blisters, rotting, and in many cases stamped with a notice that it was not fit for regular consumption. More often than not it was horse meat, cattle heads, animal blood, and other such waste products. According to the official bill of fare (Speisezettel), the kitchen was supposed to receive 250 g of potatoes and 750 g of swedes for each prisoner every day. The potatoes the kitchen received were so rotten that there were only 80–100 g a day per prisoner after all the waste that was not suitable for eating had been removed. The same goes for the swedes, from which around one third was removed. The meat the kitchen received was on the bone. Conserves started to be handed out in 1944, and these were also rotten. The items left behind from all the products taken from prisoners who arrived on mass transports to be exterminated in the gas chambers served to prepare the food in the prison kitchen. Witnesses agree that some soup that was prepared with these utensils contained buttons, razorblades, shoelaces, pills, and other such items. Chemical tests on the acidity of the soup revealed a level similar to that in table vinegar, and testing done at the Hygiene Institut der Waffen SSund Polizei Auschwitz [Waffen- SS and Police Hygiene Institute at Auschwitz] found the presence of E. coli and proteus bacteria – that is fecal bacteria – in the prisoners’ liver sausage (Häftlings Leberwurst) (Nebenbuch, pages 76, 98 and 99). In ruling no. 26 496 on page 68 of the sub-ledger (Nebenbuch), the previously mentioned institute claimed that the meat taken from the Auschwitz camp prison kitchen for testing adhered to Berlin classification class 2 no. 7 and had come from an old, emaciated cow. That meat was, according to the contents of the ruling, in the initial stages of putrefaction. In other rulings, the institute claimed that the prisoners’ sausages, for example, contained between 47.9 and 71.3% water (Wassergehalt) and between 14.3 and 18.6% protein. The institute stated that the so-called Häftlings Brühwurst [prisoners’ parboiled sausage] contained 45.4–78.5% water and 13.2–18.6% protein. In testing performed by that same institute on the meat products earmarked for the SS men at the Auschwitz camp, all the data in the sub-ledger note a lower water content and higher protein content in comparison to the ingredients used in products of the same type given to the inmates. For example, in an entry on page 44 of the sub-ledger, the prisoners’ sausage is noted to have contained 66.3% water, while those for the SS men contained 44.3%.
Similarly, the food given to the inmates was also absolutely incongruous to the rules of food hygiene in terms of quantity. The official food rations were too small and never reached the prisoners untouched due to the theft of high-value products by SS men and the prisoners whose hands those rations had passed through. Taking all these instances into account, the prisoner doctors, who had insight into the matter due to their function at the camp, determined that the calorific value of the food that a prisoner actually received was around 1,150 calories a day. This calorific value was absolutely insufficient and caused, over a short period, that is within a few months, the destruction of the prisoners’ digestive systems and led to their deaths. A prisoner who arrived at the camp weighing 75 kg was reduced to 41 kg in less than four months (witness Feikel). As a result of the body’s reduced immune system and protein deficiency brought about by the camp food, both minor purulent cases and extensive phlegmon expanded. As a result of this nutrition, the loss of adipose tissue occurred, which predisposed the inmates to the formation of hernia. The details of the extremity of the inmates’ starvation can be found in the documentation for the case of prisoner no. 122 060, who allowed his gold tooth to be ripped out with pliers in exchange for a piece of bread, in the documents for the case of prisoner no. 158 501, which state that he and a second inmate had attempted to break into the pigsty in order to steal the fodder meant for the pigs, as well as in the orders of the camp command that warned the prisoners against eating the wastage from the refuse heaps as they had been laced with rat poison. In February and March of 1945, the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for ascertaining and investigating crimes perpetrated by the German–Fascist invaders and their accomplices [Чрезвычайная государственная комиссия по установлению и расследованию злодеяний немецко-фашистских захватчиков и их сообщников] looked into the German crimes committed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Its official ruling was announced in the form of a note in issue no. 106 of the “Krasnaya Zvezda” newspaper published on 8 May 1945. According to the note, the Commission had had its expert doctors examine 2,819 sick prisoners who had survived and had ascertained that 2,189 of them, that is 91%, had fallen ill as a result of extreme exhaustion and the destruction of the body through starvation. The autopsies of 536 bodies of Auschwitz prisoners revealed that 474 of them had died of starvation. The physical condition of those emaciated Auschwitz prisoners can be seen in photograph no. 39 in the protocol from the interview with witness Woycicki as well as in the series of pictures of sick female prisoners examined by Kraków’s Main Commission in May 1945. At the time, that Commission determined that a Polish female prisoner no. 44 884, born in 1914, with a height of 160 cm, weighed 25 kg at the time of the examination, prisoner no. 75 700, born in 1922, weighed 25 kg after less than a year in the camp, and prisoner no. A 27 858 weighed 23 kg with a height of 155 cm. The state of these prisoners was caused by the insufficient food at the camp. Relative research shows that an adult person who does not do any physical labor should receive food of a daily calorific value 2,400 calories, while those performing physical work should receive 3–4,500 calories per day depending on the kind of work. Similar norms were adhered to in Polish prisons in accordance with the ruling of the Ministry of Justice from the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 15, item 53 dated 1 August 1923.
The incidence of a variety of diseases and the mortality rate of inmates was extremely high due to the insufficient food they received as well as the previously described unhygienic conditions in the camp, the hard labor and the moral terror under which they lived. The daily record book for the Auschwitz concentration camp for the period between 19 January and 19 August 1942, in which the condition of the prisoners were recorded, as were any changes in terms of death, transfer, escape, release, and the arrival of new prisoner and POW transports to the camp on every day in that period, records the death of 20,696 prisoners and 1,470 POWs between those two dates. A proportional percentage of mortality was calculated for each of those 213 days in the minutes of the inspection of this book from 24 June 1946. The table shows that the lowest daily prisoner mortality rate was 0.14 while the highest was 2.85%. In the case of the Russian POWs, those numbers were 0.1 and 20%. Based on the book, converting the lowest daily mortality rate of prisoners in the Auschwitz camp into an annual ratio gives an annual mortality rate of 511 prisoners permille at the camp. Converting the highest daily mortality rate of prisoners gives the annual ratio of 10,402 permille. The lowest daily ratio of Russian POW deaths is converted into a ratio of 365 permille, and the highest into 73,000 permille on an annual scale. These numbers clearly demonstrate the mortality rates at the Auschwitz camp if one considers that the average rate of natural deaths per year was, according to the official German publication “ Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich – Jahrgang 1938 – Internationale Übersichten” [Statistical Annual for the German Reich – 1938 – International Overview] (p. 19): 8.8 permille in the Netherlands, 11.8 in Germany, 12.5 in Belgium, 13.1 in Lithuania, 13.3 in Czechoslovakia, 13.5 in Bulgaria, 14.0 in Poland, 14.3 in Latvia, 15.0 in France, 16.8 in Yugoslavia and 18.9 in European Russia. I give the data only for those nations whose citizens were interned at the Auschwitz camp. Comparing the average annual mortality rate in these countries to the mortality rate recorded in the authentic German camp documents shows that the mortality rate in the Auschwitz concentration camp, amounting to 511 and 73,000 permille per year, was more than several hundred – and even several thousand times – the average natural mortality rate in the countries whose citizens constituted a contingent of prisoners in the Auschwitz camp.
In the face of such a colossal mortality rate and incidence of disease among the prisoners, medical care was entirely insufficient. The Germans did not organize any kind of hospital management during the camp’s initial period, and the prisoner doctors interned at the camp were not allowed to practice. In 1940, the infirmaries were only located on the ground floor of blocks 20 and 21 in the main camp. This was later expanded to blocks 28 and 19, and also to block 9 during the camp’s latter period. Initially, when the infirmary was located in only two blocks, the number of prisoners amounted to around 5,000. Of those 5,000, an average of some 1,000 were sick, usually as a result of extreme exhaustion and the beatings dealt by the SS men and other functionaries. The patients were crammed several to a mattress, to the point where there were as many as five patients in one bed regardless of the ailments which afflicted them. They had no pillows and only the threads of a single blanket big enough for two or three patients. Due to their inability to work, the food given to patients was worse than that given to working inmates. The amount of medicine given to the camp hospital was only symbolic. Thirty drops of heart medication and twenty charcoal tablets were given to the ward where 400 patients lay sick with diarrhea, while the daily dose of charcoal for one patient amounts to 10 half-gram tablets. The same applied to almost all of the medication, including bandages. At first, the hospital did not possess any tools. Several knives, tweezers and forceps stolen by the prisoners was the whole equipment the prisoner doctors used to perform even the most serious surgical procedures in secret. It was only at the end of 1941, that is after more than a year of the camp’s existence, that the young SS doctor Entress organized an operating theater for the hospital in order to learn surgery. It had only the most basic equipment and it was only later on that the prisoners furnished it with the necessary instruments that had been stolen from the supplies from the murdered Jewish transports. The Germans did not provide the infirmary blocks with any sanitary or hygienic equipment. The prisoners did it themselves by stealing the necessary materials. The hospital did not serve any medical purpose during the camp’s initial period. Patients were admitted to the infirmary – according to the decision of a particular SS man – five minutes before they died (witness Stuhr). It was a collection point for the dead and the dying and, at the same time, an institution the goal of which was to issue false medical histories and death certificates. This only changed in the spring of 1942 as the German war machine needed a larger workforce in order to carry out total war. An official term for the prisoner doctors, Häftlingsarzt, was introduced then, and patients were treated with the hope that they might quickly return to work. Those who did not recover and return to work quickly enough were killed with lethal injections or by gassing. Picking out those patients, the so-called selections, served to cleanse the camp of its unproductive element. The selections were not carried out on the basis of medical examinations as the doctor
In 1942, under pretenses of fighting a typhus epidemic, the camp command decided to destroy the carriers of the disease, that is the lice, along with the patients. Camp commandant Höß and his medical advisor issued a general authorization to exterminate all the patients and the medical personnel in the infirmary. Around 800 patients were taken from the infections ward and gassed. To that same end, that is to get rid of the patients who were unable to work, the execution of people via lethal injection was introduced in 1941. Hydrogen peroxide, petrol, evipan and phenol were all used at first, but later only phenol was injected. Initially the injections were intravenous, later they were intracardiac. The first attempts to kill people by lethal injection took place in blocks 28 and 21. These were later carried out in block 20 and at certain times they were also done at the morgue (Leichenhalle) in block 28. The number of people killed daily in this manner amounted to between several dozen and a hundred, and in particularly intense periods over 300 prisoners were killed in this way every day. According to witness testimony, around 20,000 prisoners were killed by lethal injection in the main camp alone. Those testimonies and the death certificates of prisoners no. 83 910 and 83 911 show that it was not only the elderly and the sick who died by lethal injection; entirely healthy children also died simply because they were unable to work due to their young age. Prisoner no. 83 910 was 10 years old and prisoner no. 83 911 was 13 when they were murdered.
A falsified medical history was always created for those prisoners who were killed in this way and for those who died by shooting or who were worked to death. These histories were prepared by the prisoners working in the infirmary’s secretariat at the order and under the guidance of the German camp doctor. There were only a dozen or so illnesses which could be put down as the cause of death, the list of which was prepared by the German camp doctor. The most common ones were: Herzschlag – heart attack, Kreislaufinsuffizienz – acute circulatory failure, Lungenödembei Herzmuskeldegeneration – pulmonary edema with atrophy of the heart muscle, Lungenentzündung – pulmonary inflammation, Allgemeine Sepsis – blood poisoning, Cachexie bei Darmkatarrh – death resulting from atrophy of the digestive system, as well as various combinations of these illnesses.
The evidence of this is in witness testimonies and in the documents for the case of the death of prisoner Gieszczykiewicz and others (inspection protocol from 14 September 1946 no. 1641/46) who, according to the indisputable results of the investigation, were put to death in a violent manner, while the documents containing the attestations of the camp doctors SS Dr Entress and Dr Kitt claim that the prisoners died a natural death as a result of the illnesses recorded therein. Prisoner Gieszczykiewicz was murdered under the following circumstances: in August 1942 he was summoned in writing to the Schreibstube [administrative office], where he was to report after the morning roll call on the following day. Prisoner Głowa, assigned to block 20 where professor Gieszczykiewicz was, responded to the summons, writing that Gieszczykiewicz was unable to report to the office due to ill health. The professor remained in the block the following day. Just after 9 a.m., Głowa received a note bearing the signature of Rapportführer Palitzsch, saying that Gieszczykiewicz was to be moved immediately to block 11 in the condition he was in. He put underwear on Gieszczykiewicz and put him on a stretcher, covered him with a blanket and carried him to block 11 with the help of a Pfleger [male nurse]. In the courtyard outside, Palitzsch lifted the blanket which covered Gieszczykiewicz, checked his number, and shot him twice in the head. Professor Gieszczykiewicz’s records include, among others, a confirmation of death as well as camp doctor Dr Entress’s declaration to the camp command in which he claimed that the cause of Gieszczykiewicz’s death had been atrophy of the digestive system (Cachexis bei Darmkatarrh). Both the description of the course of the alleged disease and the causes of death of those prisoners who were affected are contained in those records as well as in the remaining surviving documents, while eyewitness testimony declares that in reality these prisoners were killed by lethal injection, by shooting or by gassing. According to witness testimony, the dates of death in those records were also falsified. Prisoners who were killed on the same day have differing dates of death in the documentation. This was in accordance with the practices used in the Auschwitz camp, where the records and documents noted larger numbers of prisoners killed on a single day by marking them down as having died in groups several days apart. In this way the deaths of a group of several hundred prisoners from the punitive company, who were all shot on one day in connection with alleged intent to incite a rebellion, was spread out across several days in the middle of August 1942 (witness Wąsowicz). The record of the Soviet POWs who died in the Auschwitz camp is evidence that the documentation hid cases of non-natural death by writing in illnesses the prisoners were alleged to have succumbed to.
According to witness testimony, the majority of the Soviet POWs were murdered or starved to death. The previously mentioned record shows that a total of 8,320 POWs died in the period between 7 October 1941 and 28 February 1942 – that is over 144 days (no deaths were recorded on 23 February 1942) – while the mortality rate in a single day rose to as many as 392. The record also includes the time and cause of death. The times of death were characteristically given as having been several minutes apart from one another. For example, on 7 October 1941, POWs died in five minute intervals starting from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. A detailed examination of the entries under “cause of death” shows that the types of illnesses are repeated on various days as well as a change of writer entering the data into the record. This can easily be seen in the handwriting. As false records were used in the documentation concerning the dead, it was easy for events to occur such as the one described by prisoner Feikel, who served in the Auschwitz camp as a senior doctor in the prison infirmary. In his testimony, he states that his office was preparing a death certificate for a German prisoner who had arrived at the camp with a prosthesis on his left leg, but who, according to the record, had died as a result of necrosis of that left leg. An insurance company with whom the prisoner had taken out life insurance intervened with the camp command, seeking to find out how it was possible that the prisoner had died of necrosis of a limb he did not have. The camp command explained to the company that the office had mistakenly put down the left leg instead of the right.
The official SS doctors serving at the Auschwitz camp were absolutely uninterested in healing the sick. Instead, they addressed external forms, they wrote up histories of illnesses, graphed fevers, drew up statistical lists and took care of other formalities designed to present a semblance of proper medical care to those unfamiliar with relations inside the camp. According to the testimony of witness Fiderkiewicz, in some hospital blocks the temperature graphs, analyses and descriptions of the illnesses were written up with such precision that even the best hospitals could have referred to them as an example. What’s more, the German camp doctors assisted in activities and performed duties that, as doctors, they should not have undertaken, for they were in stark opposition to the universally accepted rules of medical ethics in force at the time. Camp SS doctor Johann Kremer, an extraordinary professor at the University of Münster, a doctor of medicine and of philosophy, notes in his diary that he took part in 14 special operations (Sonderaktionen) in the period between 30 August and 18 November 1942, was present at the shooting of prisoners with a small-caliber firearm, as well as at the injecting of women with deadly poisons. The Germans described a Sonderaktion as the killing of people through the use of the Auschwitz camp’s gas chambers. Kremer writes under the date of 2 September 1942, that Dante’s Inferno seemed almost to be a comedy in comparison to those activities and highlights that not without reason was the Auschwitz camp called an extermination camp (Lager der Vernightung). In another place, Kremer writes that Dr Thile, a colleague at the camp, was right to call the Auschwitz camp the anus of the world (anus mundi). The contents of this diary and witness testimonies show that the camp SS doctors took part in the killing of people in the gas chambers, that they observed the poisoning process through a special viewing port in the airtight doors, and that the doors were only opened at the signal of a doctor confirming that all of the victims had died. SS doctors serving at the camp took part in these activities. Along with the assisting sanitary personnel assigned to them (SDG), they transported the Zyklon B used to kill the victims locked in the gas chambers in ambulances marked with a red cross, thus befouling an internationally recognized symbol of humanitarianism by using it for criminal purposes. According to the explanation provided by camp commandant Höß, the Zyklon B needed for poisoning the people in the gas chambers was delivered to the camps via the Reich’s chief SS doctor (SS-Reichsartzt) Dr von Gravitz, who was also the president of the German Red Cross and who held various distinction in the German medical world.
German SS doctors in the camp experimented on healthy and unhealthy prisoners, taking advantage of the Auschwitz human mass to this end. Aside from the SS doctors, Wehrmacht doctors (such as Schumann and Kaschub) also conducted experiments on living patients in Auschwitz, as did German civilian doctors (such as Clauberg). First and foremost, it needs to be brought up that German doctors active in Auschwitz, either lacking any sort of preparation or only equipped with minimal preparation for surgical procedures, opted to learn their craft on people rather than on corpses. To this end, they would find themselves surgical material for some procedure or another either in the hospital records, or by ordering during a roll call that prisoners report to the hospital if they had been diagnosed with a given condition before their incarceration or if they had complained of some problems with e.g. the gallbladder, appendix or kidney stones during their internment in the camp. So if at any given time a German doctor was learning e.g. gallbladder surgery, then prisoners afflicted with that condition went to the operating table, whether they consented to surgery or not. The terror of the camp regime excluded in the very principle any possibility of voluntary, unforced statement of consent for an operation. Performing surgery against the will of the patients was a stark breach of common regulations for operating medical professionals, which are binding in Germany as well, and prohibit surgical operations without the consent of the patient. The violation of this commonly accepted principle was all the more jarring since the persons behind the surgeries performed them for the purposes of training, had not mastered the necessary operating technique, and thus the mortality amongst the patients operated on by the German doctors in the Auschwitz concentration camp was very high. Amongst the SS doctors, the ones most exceptional in their willingness to [obtain] knowledge and in their fervent study were Dr Entress and Dr Fischer, who, in order to gain expertise, attempted very serious and very difficult surgical procedures. The testimony of a former prisoner, Dr Jan Grabczyński, a surgeon, shows that the SS doctors were not interested in the health of their patients, that they had no interest in the fate of the patient after they had performed the procedure – to the contrary, in many cases, they would send the patients they had operated on to the gas chambers at the first opportunity, often just a few days after the surgery.
Contrary to the unanimous opinion of the commentators of German criminal law – to which the German doctors in Auschwitz were subject – that an experiment on a living human without their consent is a crime (Heinhard Frank, Das Strafgesetzbuch für das Deutsche Reich, p. 479, Adolf Schönke, Das Strafgesetzbuch für das Deutsche Reich, published 1942, p. 459, et al.), these doctors conducted experiments on male and female prisoners in order to investigate matters of interest to a given experimenter. And so: the chief pharmacist of the Auschwitz camp, Sturmbannführer Dr Capesius and two SS doctors called several prisoners to the Lagerarzt [camp doctor] in block 21 and gave them a liquid to drink that smelled and tasted like coffee. After the prisoners had drunk that “coffee,” they left the room in the state of a strong manic excitement. The next day this happened again, except the prisoners who were experimented on had to be carried out of the German doctor’s room on a stretcher, and two of them died during the night. When the Lagerarzt was informed of their deaths during the morning report, he erupted in ironic laughter, saying that they had had a nice death after all. The experimenters were obviously trying to test for the lethal dosage of some substance. The substance involved has not been ascertained.
In order to find out if the so-called brown atrophy (braune Atrophie) of the liver and the cardiac muscle influence post-mortem changes and seeking to eliminate those changes, the German camp doctor, instead of performing an autopsy on a dead Muselmann, that is, one of the exhausted prisoners, who were dying en masse right in front of the doctors, and who – as it has been known for a long time now – do exhibit those changes, and [instead of] removing the organs from the corpse of a deceased person soon after their death, started by ordering a prisoner to kill such a Muselmann through a phenol injection to the heart, and then had another prisoner perform biopsies of the organs removed from the body of the murdered. The doctor then placed those biopsies in a fixing liquid and took them with him. The SS doctor Prof. Dr Kremer writes of very similar experiments in his memoirs, where he mentions in several instances that he extracted completely fresh (Lebenfrisch) material from the liver, spleen, and pancreas after a pilocarpine injection or from a prisoner afflicted with jaundice (von einenIkterischen).
Pregnant women in the camp hospital had their record cards marked with [the letters] “Sb” (Sonderbehandlung [“special treatment”]), meaning that a given prisoner was marked for gassing. Up until 1943, the rule was that women arriving in the camp pregnant or becoming pregnant in the camp had no right to live. Even if the pregnancy was carried to term, both the child and the mother were killed with a phenol injection. This was performed either by the head doctor or by one of his subordinate SDGs [Sanitätsdienstgrade – SS nurse]. The doctors involved were Dr Mengele and Dr König, both were officer-rank SS men.
In the first half of 1944, Oberfeldfebel Dr Kaschub, a Wehrmacht officer candidate, received at his disposal a separate, strictly isolated cell on the first floor of block 28 in the main Auschwitz camp. Young and middle-aged completely healthy Jews were placed in that cell. Kaschub experimented on those prisoners by rubbing some toxic substances into their upper and lower limbs, causing exudations of pus and very painful, hard-to-heal phlegmons. These experiments were aimed at obtaining comparison material in order to reveal German deserters shirking military service. The results of Kaschub’s procedures are illustrated in a series of photographs taken by himself and developed from film in the photographic workshop of the Auschwitz Erkennungsdienst [information service]. That series [of photographs] is included in the interview protocol of witness Woycicki from 18 November 1946, no. 1565/46.
A Wehrmacht pilot, OberleutnantObermedizinalrat [senior medical officer] Dr Schumann from Berlin, conducted experiments on young boys and girls in Auschwitz, irradiating the males’ testicles and the females’ ovaries with X-rays. Afterwards, the organs were removed and the influence of the irradiation was studied histologically. Several dozen men and women were mutilated in this way, some of them died, some of them were sent for gassing.
The official confirmation that SS doctors in Auschwitz castrated prisoners comes from the contents of a report on the activities of the surgical department of the prison hospital of the Auschwitz concentration camp, dated 16 December 1943, which includes, among other procedures, 90 Hodenamputationen [testicle amputations].
Dr Clauberg, a gynaecology professor from Königsberg, assigned for the duration of the war to hospitals in Katowice and Królewska Huta, arrived every now and again in the Auschwitz camp and, alongside German chemist Dr Goebel, performed procedures in block 10 consisting of injecting the inside of women’s birth canals with unknown substances and subsequently photographing them with X-rays. According to the calculations of witness Felicja Pleszewska, a prisoner employed as a nurse in block 10, Clauberg and Goebel subjected around a thousand women to these procedures. The account of German prisoner Dr Max Samuel, who was also employed in block 10, [tells us] that these procedures were intended to cause sterilization and testing of replacement [radio]contrast agents, such as lipiodol, iodipin etc. These procedures and the utilized agents were kept strictly secret, and Samuel, introduced to these matters, was gassed as a Geheimnisträger [secret holder].
Garrison doctor (Standortarzt) Dr Wirths, along with the participation of Dr Max Samuel, performed, in that same block 10, colposcope examinations in order to publish some kind of research paper on the subject. The procedures included excision of the mucosa from the vaginal part of the uterus and subsequently sending [the samples] to Dr Wirths’s younger brother in Hamburg. According to the testimony of witness Pleszowska, who assisted in those procedures as a nurse, some 250 women were subjected to these procedures. All procedures were performed under anaesthesia by evipan. None of the procedures ended in patient death.
Witness testimony concurs that by orders from the director of the Hygiene Institut der Waffen[-]SSund Polizei Auschwitz O/S, Dr Bruno Weber, his subordinates Zabel and Fugger roamed the blocks, picking out prisoners at will, frequently convalescent ones, and drawing up to half a liter of blood at a time from them. Large amounts of blood were also drawn during the mass shootings in block 11. That blood was later marked for A or B type and used for transfusions in German front-line hospitals. Convalescents would die from that method, as such a large loss of blood would cause their conditions to reoccur. Fugger and Zabel also excised buttock and thigh muscles from the corpses of shot prisoners, frequently chest muscles as well, and three or four times a month bring 30 to 40 kg of those in two or three buckets to the Hygiene Institute. There, those muscles were turned into stock for breeding bacteria. The institute organized a special kitchen (Nährbodenkuche) for that purpose. That installation was visited, amongst others, by SS-Standartenführer Dr Mrugowsky from Oranienburg, who was the SS head for institution of this type.
Based on all of the above data, I conclude as follows:
1. German doctors acted against the age-old principle of helping every sick person in need, regardless of if they are friend or foe.
2. German doctors, against the rules of treatment accepted in all the civilized world, performed, without medical causes, procedures on their patients, the type of which, the circumstances in which they were performed, and the secrecy in which they were shrouded, prove that those procedures were not calculated for the benefit of the patient, but were experimental in nature.
3. German doctors sent thousands of people to their deaths and ordered the writing of falsified medical records and false diagnoses of causes of death that would suggest given persons had died natural deaths.
4. German doctors performed experiments on living persons, frequently ending in death, which cannot be considered scientific experiments in any measure. It is true that for the progress of science and treatment one must be the first to perform an experiment on a human (e.g. amputation of stomach, brain surgery etc.), but this can be done [only] by a highly qualified person of science after an exhaustive and broad, initially theoretical, analysis of the given matter, and then after laboratory experiments on animals, before it can be done to a human. What cannot be considered scientific experiments are the mass X-ray irradiations of inmates’ sex glands, the study of their semen after those irradiations, and subsequently castration and histological study of their testicles, which was performed by the German doctors, as the lack of sperm in the semen and histological changes to the testicles of such persons have been long understood by now. The same applies, even more strongly, to determining lethal doses of medical agents in human trials or killing people to remove certain organs for study right after their deaths, since it was possible to wait for a natural death of a given person to remove the organs from the cadaver for examination. The anti-vivisection league has made efforts in all of the civilised world to abolish or at least restrict to the minimum scientific experiments on animals, mostly animals very low on the genealogical ladder at that, and meanwhile German doctors are performing painful procedures on healthy humans beings, causing them phlegmons, inflammation of the genitals, disability, and even death. This is all the more worthy of condemnation since it was the Germans who gloated to the whole world that they have the most humanitarian law for the protection of animals, all the while conducting experiments of this kind on humans.
The investigation files, particularly the surviving, authentic German camp documents, show that the following German doctors held posts in the concentration camp: Dr Popiersch, Dr von Bodmann, Dr Wirths, Dr Mengele, Dr Thilo, Dr Rhode [Rohde], Dr König, Dr Fischer, Dr Weber, Dr Josef Kremer, Dr Entress, Dr Schumann, Dr Clauberg, Dr Kaschub, Dr Münch, Dr del Motte, Dr Kitt, Dr Plaza, Dr Klein, Dr Precht, and Dr Capesius. The actions of the aforementioned were in breach of both the concentration camp regulations they were bound by and the principles of medical ethics and the requirements of medical knowledge and art. The ethical level of the German medical world is best evidenced by a secret document, specifically the report from the meeting of the health department of the General Government held in Krynica between 13 and 16 October 1941. According to the contents of this document, during the discussion on the paper on fighting typhus in the ghetto, president Dr Walbaum, the minister of health in the General Government’s administration system, said the following: Man muss sich, ich kann es indiesem Kreise offen aussprechen, darüber klar sein, es gibt nur zwei Wege, wir verurteillen die Juden im Ghetto zum Hungertode oder wir erschiessen sie. Wenn auch der Endeffekt derselbe ist, das andere wirkt abschreckender [We must – I can say so freely in this circle – be clear. There are only two ways: either we have the Jews in the ghetto starve to death, or we shoot them. Although the end result is the same, the latter is more fear-inspiring], which the gathered doctors met with general applause.
At that the interview and the protocol of 25 November 1946 were concluded.