Presiding Judge: Please summon the witness Erich Kulka.

(The witness Erich Kulka approaches.)

Presiding Judge: Please provide your personal details.

Witness: Erich Kulka, 35 years old, a corporate signing clerk by occupation, religion – Jewish, resident in Nový Hrozenkov, Moravia (Czechoslovakia), relationship to the accused – none.

Presiding Judge: I hereby instruct the witness, pursuant to the provisions of Article 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that you are required to speak the truth. The provision of false testimony is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years. Do the parties want to submit any motions as to the procedure according to which the witness is to be interviewed?

Prosecutors: We release the witness from the obligation to take an oath.

Defense attorneys: Ourselves also.

Presiding Judge: What information does the witness possess regarding the accused?

Witness Erich Kulka: I arrived at Birkenau in 1942 and remained incarcerated there until the evacuation of 18 January 1945. During this time I became intimately familiar with the workings of the camp. I worked at the camp as a locksmith, and this job allowed me to witness the crimes committed there and determine the perpetrators, who are present in the dock today, namely: Liebehenschel, Mandl, Aumeier, Grabner, Buntrock, and Brandl. Hopefully, I will recall the surnames of the other accused later. When I was incarcerated at Birkenau, I had the possibility of writing down the crimes committed against the people from various transports that arrived at the camp. We managed to secure the majority of our notes, and – if requested – I can present all these documents (following liberation, they were presented in the book Fabryka śmierci [Factory of death] to the court. I would like to devote a portion of my testimony to the Czech camp in Birkenau, which was set up in September 1943. The driving force behind its establishment was the accused Buntrock. In September 1943, some 5,000 Czech Jews arrived in Auschwitz from the camp in Perczyn. However, they were not sent to the gas chambers – as was the practice – but placed, both women and children, in the newly organized camp. After this facility had been set up, Grabner, the head of the political department, drove up and ordered all the prisoners to write home, instructing them to explain that all was well and that their relatives should be encouraged to come along. Buntrok was appointed the Rapportführer [report leader] of this camp. He was a very cruel administrator. First of all, he robbed the prisoners of their watches and all other valuables.

Then, together with the camp elder, they used the proceeds to buy some vodka and got drunk. They returned to the camp at night and started assaulting the prisoners, both women and men. My wife and child were in the Czech camp. Buntrock learned of this and during his first visit to the camp, where I was working as a locksmith, he caught me trying to give my family some apples; as punishment, I was hit 25 on my naked buttocks with a stick. From then on, he would torment me whenever he came to the camp, and he also sent my son to the gas chamber. He was a brutal commandant – he let people die in the roll call square, and he also decreased the food rations.

On 10 March 1944, the commanding officers of Auschwitz – Aumeier among them – ordered that the Czech camp, and also the transports that arrived in September and December 1943 – be gassed to oblivion. Rapportführer Buntrock was responsible for the implementation of this order. The perpetrators acted personally – prisoners were summoned and their numbers written down, until a group of 3,860 had been selected for death by gassing. Buntrock helped load these people onto trucks, beating them terribly.

Following the gassing of this first transport, Buntrock remained as Rapportführer of the Czech camp and soon sent a new group of prisoners to their deaths, namely the Theresienstadt transport, which numbered 10,000 people. This was the second liquidation carried out in the camp.

On 10 and 12 July 1944 he again assisted in a selection, displaying his typical brutality. During the second selection they chose 3,500 people for labor in the Reich, while the rest were sent to the gas chambers on 10 and 12 July.

I will give the following example in order to show just how cruel Buntrock and Mandl were. During the second liquidation, which concerned the Czech camp, the Germans summoned women who were childless; they were to be included in a work transport. One of these women had a 4-month-old baby and, wanting to save its life, she hid it in a bag. She somehow managed to smuggle the child out of the camp. Along with the other women, she was sent to camp B 1, which was administered by Mandl. But the child was found during a closer inspection. For a while it appeared that the SS men, touched by the mother’s selflessness, would spare the lives of both. But it was not to be. The next day an ambulance drove up and, acting upon orders given by the camp command (of which Mandl was a member), took the mother and child to be gassed.

In order to obliterate all traces of the gassing of the Czech camp and to avoid any unrest that could have been caused by the extermination of such a large number of people, on 3 March 1944 the prisoners were ordered to write home, to all of their relatives, saying that everything was just fine; these letters were to carry the date of 25 March. They were taken back to the camp by Grabner himself, who then ensured that they were properly mailed. Next to arrive in Auschwitz was the transport from Theresienstadt. The people from this batch, having learned the fate of their relatives, did not want to believe that they had perished, and showed letters that were dated 25 March 1944 and carried the stamp of Dachau. These people were gassed in the crematorium. On a number of occasions I saw Grabner seeing off transports to the gas chambers, while only half an hour before each killing he would make every effort to ensure that these people wrote postcards home, informing that everything was fine and that they were in a labor camp in Birkenau. They used this method in particular to mislead the Hungarians, so that they would come to the camp of their own accord, without making a fuss.

Lagerführerin [camp leader] Mandl frequently participated in selections of women. I saw with my own eyes how she beat the women and herded them to the trucks that were to take them to the crematorium. On many occasions I saw Aumeier arriving at the ramp of Birkenau, where he selected children, men and women for the crematorium. According to our observations, more than three and a half million people died at the camp in Auschwitz. This number included 150,000 Czech citizens. The rest of the statistical details may be found in the book which I have mentioned.

Presiding Judge: I would ask the witness to submit this book to the Tribunal.

(The witness hands over the book.)

Witness: I would also like to give testimony concerning overseer Brandl, who worked at the Bekleidungskammer [clothing warehouse] and stole clothes, shoes and valuables left behind by the transports, and had them sent to the Reich. Lagerführerin Mandl did the same. They stole Red Cross parcels and distributed them amongst the SS men.

Presiding Judge: Can the witness point out the accused?

The witness identifies the accused: Liebehenschel, Mandl. Aumeier, Grabner, Buntrock – the worst enemy, Brandl, Götze, Nebbe.

Presiding Judge: Does the witness wish to continue his testimony?

Witness: No, I have in the main finished my account.

Judge Zembaty: Who was the main commandant of the camp?
Witness: The main commandant was Höß, and Aumeier was his deputy.
Judge: This was during the first gassing, but who was in charge during the second? When did

the second gassing take place?

Witness: The second gassing took place on 10 and 12 July 1944. At the time, the chief commandant was Höß, and his deputy was Schwarzhuber.

Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions to the witness?

Prosecutor Szewczyk: The witness has stated that the accused Mandl hurried people along to the gas chambers. Does the witness know whether the accused Mandl also took part in the selections, that is in choosing female victims for the gas chambers?

Witness: Yes, I myself saw her doing so on a number of occasions, while I was walking over to the “Sauna”, to repair the installation, and also to other technical facilities around the camp. The accused Mandl selected women for gassing together with the doctor. She had a cane, and she ordered the women to walk in front of her, pointing out the ones to be gassed with her cane.

Prosecutor: Did she have any female assistants?

Witness: She did.

Prosecutor: Could the witness provide us with the surnames of those who assisted her in these selections?

Witness: One was Hasse. I do not remember the others. If I saw them or heard their surnames, I would be able to recognize them.

Prosecutor: Does the witness know whether Brandl ordered searches to be carried out in the blocks, in order to deprive the women of food and clothing, etc.?

Witness: Yes. Brandl had a reputation for not tolerating any women having their own clothes and other items, and even when everything had been taken from them, she would search through the blocks and take whatever the women had organized for themselves, and punish them; finally, she would send such “culprits” to block 15, from where inmates were sent to the gas chambers.

Prosecutor: Thank you.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: I have one more question. The witness stated that on a number of occasions Grabner himself accompanied transports going to the gas chambers, and ordered the victims to write letters before they were gassed. There were two gassings, one in 1943 and one in 1944. Grabner left the camp in the autumn of 1943. Since the witness did not explicitly state whether he was referring to the first or to the second gassing, I would ask him to precise when did he see him at the gassing?

Witness: I know that the accused Grabner was in the camp in 1944.

Prosecutor: Therefore these letters – previously mentioned by the witness – were written on the instruction of Grabner in 1944, when he came to the camp from time to time, during the Höß action?

Witness: Yes.

Prosecutor: Thank you.

Prosecutor Brandys: The witness has testified that some 3,500 people out of the Theresienstadt transport were sent to the Reich. What happened with the children – were they gassed, or were they sent elsewhere?

Witness: The second transport included 300 children, of whom 18 boys aged 14 – 16 were selected as trainees to be employed in German factories. My son was also chosen and he is present here as a witness; he is the sole child survivor of the first Theresienstadt transport.

Prosecutor: Does the witness know whether Mengele was given children upon whom to conduct his experiments?

Witness: Yes, Dr. Mengele received children from Birkenau for experimentation.

Prosecutor Brandys: Does the witness know whether the accused Buntrock took part in selections at the ramp?

Witness: The accused Buntrock assisted in selections at camp no. 1 in 1944.

Prosecutor: The witness has also identified the accused Götze. In what circumstances did the witness encounter him?

Witness: I encountered the accused Götze as a Blockführer at the gate, but I did not notice him behaving particularly badly.

Prosecutor: I am interested in learning whether the witness saw him taking part in selections at the ramp and for gassing?

Witness: Yes, I did.

Presiding Judge: Can the witness explain when the first and second gassings took place?

Witness: The first transport from Theresienstadt arrived in Birkenau in October 1942, and 80 percent of the people were sent to the gas chambers. The rest were sent to the camp, where they perished. Other transports arrived from Theresienstadt in January and February, numbering some 10,000 – 15,000 people. They passed through a selection at the ramp, with more or less 80 percent being gassed. There were other groups, too, and these came to form the Czech camp. In September and December 1943, and thereafter in April and May 1944, people from these transports formed the Czech family camp.

Presiding Judge: Does the witness know the accused Liebehenschel?

Witness: Yes.

Presiding Judge: The witness hereby submits a book written in Czech by Ota Kraus and Erich Schön, entitled Továrna na smrt. Do the parties wish to make any motions in connection herewith?

Prosecutor Pęchalski: I would request that this book be entered as evidence.

Defense attorneys: We do not oppose the motion.

Presiding Judge: Pursuant to the provisions of Article 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, I enter the book submitted to the court as evidence.

Witness: Previously my surname was Schön, however I have presently changed it to Kulka.

Defense attorneys: The witness has stated that the final transport came during Liebehenschel’s tenure. When was it gassed?

Witness: The last transport from Theresienstadt was gassed on 29 October 1944.

Defense attorney Minasowicz: I would like to establish on what basis the witness states that the initiative to gas the transport came from the accused, and in particular from Grabner and Aumeier?

Witness: I know this because the accused who are present here today issued orders when selecting these people.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: I would like to pose a question to the accused Grabner. Can the accused state whether after he was transferred to the Gestapo in Katowice in the autumn of 1943 did he visit Auschwitz from time to time?

The accused Grabner: I was taken from Katowice, under guard, to Auschwitz for an examination, which was conducted at the camp administration building. Afterwards, I was conveyed back to Katowice.

Witness: I would like to add that following the establishment of the Czech camp in 1944, further transports from Theresienstadt continued to arrive in September and October. These numbered 20,000 people; they were not directed to the family camp, but selected at the ramp and immediately sent to the gas chambers.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: I was more interested in determining whether the accused appeared on the grounds of the camp alone, without an escort, and could move around freely?

The accused: No.

Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions?

The accused Grabner: In 1944 I was no longer present in Katowice, for I had been transferred to the jail in Dachau. This is all that I wanted to say.

Presiding Judge: Please summon witness Erich Kulka again.

(The witness Kulka approaches.)

Presiding Judge: In light of the question that the Prosecutor has posed to the accused, does the witness uphold his testimony? Was Grabner present in the camp at the time, or not? Please remember well, for the accused denies this.

Witness: I know for sure that Grabner stopped his car and walked up to me; this was in 1944.

Presiding Judge: Thank you.

Prosecutor Pęchalski: I would like to make a statement, namely that following the examination of other witnesses it will become apparent that Grabner subsequently appeared at the camp on a number of occasions, carrying out so-called “organizations”, i.e. making parcels and sending them to relatives.