Monday, June 6, 2011

NO-508 Affidavit Dr Gerhard Schiedlausky - Buchenwald physician

Source: NO-508 Affidavit of 7 August 1945.


Freising, 7 August 1945
I, Gerhard SCHIEDLAUSKY, MD, Hauptsturmfuehrer of the Reserve of the Waffen SS, declare the following:

I was drafted on the 28 October 1939.  From the 21st of March to the end of September, 1941, I worked as a doctor in the concentration camp Mauthausen as Truppenarzt and also in the prisoners' wards.  From that time I remember that so-called SMITH fratures ("Parierfracturen"), fractures in the lower third of the lower arm, and jaw fractures occurred which could be traced back to the roughness of the prisoners, especially to many of the Capos who were notorious for their brutality.  Since there was a large number of professional criminals, it was unavoidable that some cases of unnatural death should occur; the prisoners among themselves exercised a hard and brutal system of justice.  Through the most dire threats, thieves, especially those who sole bread, were driven to suicide which mostly took the form of hanging.  I estimate that in about two cases they deliberately ran into the electric wire fence.  There were also a series of men who were shot in flight.  At one time attempted escapes, especially when a transport of Dutch Jews arrived, increased so much that the danger existed that a future increase in these suicidal flights would stir up the camp; consequently the camp headquarters armed husky prisoners with clubs and placed them near the line of guards and successfully, within a short time, stopped these attempts that had previously reached a toll of up to twelve deaths daily.  In Mauthausen, I also witnessed punishment by beatings (Prugelstrafe) which were at that time administered by the block leaders after the required formalities had been met.  These amounted up to twentyfive lashes.  From the near camp, Gusen, I further remember that several cases of broken jaws occurred.  During my time in Mauthausen, I remember the following SS members who worked in the Medical Detachment (Sanitaetsdienst);
Station physician: SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. MATTNER, till the beginning of July, 1941; later, for a short time: SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. Joseph FRIEDL (deceased); finally: SS Strumbannfuehrer Dr. KREBSBACH.  SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. Ladislaus CONRAD (deceased) was another physician.  Dentist: SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. KAPPE, later an SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. HENKEL.  Dr KAPPE left Mauthausen for the front about August, 1941.  Pharmacist: SS Hauptsturmfuehrer WASICKY.  Of the non-commissioned medical officers, I remember SS Hauptscharfuehrer METZNAR who was in charge of the office; there were further four or five more enlisted men whose names I cannot recall.  In the camp Gusen the following doctors were active: SS Untersturmfuehrer HESCHL, JUNG and SAITSCHIK, also SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Karl ABRAHAM, dentist.  From the beginning of October to the beginning of December, 1941, I worked as troop and prison doctor in Flossenburg.  An early winter brought along many serious illnesses and cases of collapse upon the job, especially in the stone quarry.  These cases mostly ended in death.  In November, 1941, the first transports of Soviet POWs arrived.  They arrived in a bad overall condition, underfed, half-starved, and they brought spotted fever with them so there was immediately plenty of work for thenewly appointed prison docters.  The SS doctors there were:
SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. TROMMER; my successor, SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. OTTOKAR BLASCHKE.  The dentists were: SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. PUETZ, later SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. HELLINGER.

At the beginning of December, 1941, I received orders to proceed to Ravensbruck to relieve Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. SONNTAG as station physician (Standortarzt).  there were three camps:
1.) The women's camp which had about six thousand prisoners in the beginning, and which in August, 1943, had eighteen thousand.  I did not observe any cruelties on the part of the SS personnel or female guards, although occasional dog bites, almost always of a mild nature occurred due to the negligence of the women guards or the unpredictability of the dogs..  Cases of unnatural death were very rare: once it was a Russian woman who tired to escape over the electric fence and died in the attempt, and there were several cases of suicide by hanging, perhaps two or three.  In 1942 and 1943 orders came from the Reichsfuehrer SS that in the women's camp Ravenbruck suitable volunteers were to be picked in order to establish brothers in some of the men's camps.  In my capacity as camp doctor I had to take part in choosing suitable girls from among the applicants.  They had to be healthy, of age and previously engaged in prostitution.  Those who volunteered were mostly German prostitutes, also some Poles and one German gypsy halfbreed.  During my time approximately the following camps were supplied with prostitutes: Mauthausen or Gusen with sixteen, Buchenwald with fourteen, Flossenburg with about ten.  Dachau also received some, but in my estimation no more than two or four.

The punishment inflicted upon women in Ravensbruck was different in that the Reichsfuehrer SS had reserved for himself alone the decision to have these German women flogged at least those who, as wives or widows of soldiers, had given themselves to foreigners.  In this case there were floggings up to three times twenty-five blows under more severe conditions, that is, with a naked behind.  In the beginning, this was done by women guards, but later exclusively by female prisoners.  Depending on the number, the punishment took place once or twice a week and five to eight women were punished.

On order of the Reichsfuehrer, Gruppenfuehrer Dr. GEBHARD, HOHENLYCHEN, carried out a series of experiments in about 1942 and 1943.  The problem to be solved was the therapeutic effect of a number of medicines and possibly also surgery upon gangrene.  Polish women who had been sentenced to death by court martial and who were awaiting execution, after their sentences had been approved by the Governor General, were chosen as subjects.  The experiment proceeded as follows: a six to eight cam long incision was made in the lower calf.  A certain bacteria culture which was sent especially for this purpose by the Hygiene Insitute of the Ss was placed deep in the calf muscle, and then the skin was rejoined.  As camp doctor, my only responsibility was to see that clinical matters such as the operation itself, nutrition and special nursing, etc., were taken care of to the satisfaction of Professor GEBHARD.  The operation itself was performed by Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. STUMPFEGGER and Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. FISCHER; the camp docotr, Miss OBERHAUSER assisted them.  I estimate that about thirty to forty women were used for this experiment with about ten to twelve dying.  Oberarzt Dr. HEISSMEIR, head of the tuberculosis sanatorium Hohenlychen, intended to conduct another series of experiments with prisoners, but these were not approved by the higher authorities.  Here the main interest was tuberculosis research, to check the reaction of the patient to increasing burdens of physical exertion.
2.) The male camp Ravensbruck: This was purely a work camp for the development of industry.  Because of the peculiar working conditions the rate of illness was always rather high.  As station doctor I had to supervise the prisoners' hospital.

3.) The youth protection camp Uckermark - The female inmates were almost entirely German girls, on whom the efforts of ordinary reformatory education (Fuersorgeerziehung) had failed, who continued social activities [sic], loafed around and would not let themselves be influenced by their parents and would not obey them.  Among them were girls, who because of inherited biological traits were considered inferior, partly because they were epileptics, or the offspring of drunkards, mental cases or sexual maniacs.  Only a few of the prisoners were girls who had committed some sort of crime that would ordinarily land them in Ravensbruck, but who were sent there because of their youth.  Thse were mostly cases of forbidden contact with foreigners, almost always sexual intercourse.

As far as hygienic conditions went in all 3 camps, in the beginning there was sufficient space in the women's camp, but due to the mounting number of prisoners, there were not sufficient beds to go around, so that people working on day and night shifts had to alternate in a bed.  Consequently scabies and also some lice were observed.

My co-workers in Ravensbruck were:
SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. SONNTAG - my predecessor
SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. TROMMER - my successor.

Camp doctors (female): Mrs SONNTAG, MD, Miss OBERHAUSER, MD; both left before my time.

Camp doctor (male): SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. R.IF ROSENTHAL who, after a special doctor was no longer assigned solely to the men's camp, took over the latter job, too.  Previous doctors in the men's camp were:
SS Obersturmfuehrer Dr. KI???ETTER, SS Oberstrumfuehrer Dr. Ottokar BLASCHKE and SS Untersturmfuehrer BERGER who was employed as a dentist, when a candidate for the state medical examination, temporarily took over the duties of doctor.  The dentists at this time were: SS Sturmbannfueher Dr. Karl (?) MUECKE and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. HELLINGER; Dentist was SS Unterscharfuehrer FENCHEL at first, and later SS Hauptscharfuehrer GARMS was charged with the dental care of the men's camp; SS Untersturmfuehrer LORBEER (deceased) was the pharmacists; of the non-commissioned officers of the medical corps, there were present when I took over:
SS Oberscharfuehrer BUETTNER and the two Unterscharfuehrer MUSIKANT and JANTZEN.

In August 1943, I was relieved of my post by Hauptstandartenfuehrer Dr. Enno LOLLING, Chief of Amt D III.  The reason was that some disciplinary action was taken against Obersturmfuehrer Dr. ROSENTHAL.  He had had a love affair with a German prisoner nurse and performed an abortion on her.  As his medical superior, I was accused of knowing of this affair, so I felt myself forced to ask to be relieved of my duties, especially since relations with the camp commander at the time, Sturmbannfuehrer Fritz SUHREN were not of the best.  I was sent to Natzweiler, to relieve Obersturmfuehrer Dr. von BODMANN there.

I spent from about the middle of August to the middle of October 1943, in Natzweiler, then got the order from the head of Amt D III to take over the duties of Dr. Waldemar HOVEN, who was under investigation, as station doctor of the Waffen SS, Weimar, and 1st camp doctor of Buchenwald.  After I turned my own duties over to Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Richard KRIEGER, my successor took over my new office.

My activities in Buchenwald started on around the 15-18 October 1943, and ended 11 April 1945, the day the Americans entered.  When I took over, there were sufficient facilities in the prisoners' hospital to handle the volume of work.  I gave the prisoners self-administration and especially the capo (a prisoner who was in charge of other prisoners) Ernst BUSSE a free hand.  He picked out war nurses, released those not suitable and occasionally meted out some sort of punishment.  The assistant to BUSSE was Otto KIPP, vice capo.  There were plenty of doctors around.  Some of the departments were headed by prisoners with long years of experience.  In the hospital, there were altogether 5 barracks for the sick, a sixth was added later.  The dispensary of the little camp had two barracks.

At the time I started to work, no experiments were conducted at Buchenwald.  Later there were several series ordered as follows:
1.) Experiment of Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. VAERNET
2.) Experiments of Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHRICK [sp?]
3.) Nutrition experiments with SAEMIGMARK [sp?]
4.) Investigations of Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. ELLENBECK

In reference to 1.)  The experiments of Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. VAERNET, a Danish hormone expert, took place about the middle of 1944 on order of the Reichsfuehrer SS, who had directed the Reich physician of the SS, Dr. GRAWITZ, to have the experiments carried out in Buchenwald.  The aim of the experiments was to change homosexuals so they would again react normally.  My part in the experiments, which was detailed for me in written instructions from my superior, Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. LOLLING, was only to see to it that the necessary number of homosexuals were in the camp. In a preliminary examination, Dr. VAERNET picked out suitable subjects, then informed us by wire from Prag on about what day he would perform operations on the 4 subjects.  He also desired to operate on 6 more prisoners, at a later date, one of whom was to be a eunuch and another an aged man who was no longer capable of sexual feelings.  in the operation itself, a 2-3 cm long incision was made in the abdomen under local anesthasia.  Then the artificial hormone, which he had developed himself and which was in the form of a normal pill, was inserted into the sub cutaneous fatty tissues and the wound closed.

In reference to 2.) The experiments of Obersturmfuehrer Dr. SCHICK were concerned with the healing of boils and small carbuncles.  Buchenwald was given the assignment to furnish sick men as subjects to test this method.  The results were positive, many boils could be healed much quicker this way.

In reference to 3.)  In the nutrition experiments with "Saemigmark", an additional forgus [sic] (Pilzrasen) supposedly containing 50g albumen, was administered.  It was a by product of the process of washing unfinished cellulose to remove excess sulfites with lye solutions wih which nothing can be done; it was gained by a complicated procedure.

In reference to 4.)  The interests of Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Hans Dieter ELLENBECK aly in about the same direction as those of the nutrition experiments.  His Job [sic] - was in the case of frequent occurence diseases, or complaints about the conditions of the prisoners, to investigate and find the cause.  He was appointed by the Chief hygienist, SS Oberfuehrer Professor Dr. MRUGOWSKI to visit the various sites where building and armaments construction jobs were to be carried out.  Many times these places were far underground, hard mining work had to be done, the distance to the place of work was too far and difficult shoes were impractical and unserviceable, clothes not sufficient so unnecessary colds occurred.  Also the question of inspection, the distribution and receiving of food, recreation and time off and shelter came up.  All these things may be contributing factors towards the recurrences of a disease of a similar condition a work detail.  Experiments with nutrition re this problem were to be started in Buchenwald, but then called off in March 1945 due to the progress of war.

Further experiments with human beings were carried on in block 48, which was affiliated with the Hygiene Institute of the Waffen SS, Dept for Spotted Fever and Virus research.  It head was Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Erwin DING, later SCHULER who did not work under me, but as heads of a dpeartment of the Hygiene Institute of the Waffen SS, worked directly under Berlin.  I therefore never mixed myself up in the affairs of the Institute.  Later SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER requested me to represent him during his frequent absences from Buchenwald if a signature was urgently needed.  Of the activities of the Institute, I only know that after vaccination with the various vaccines to be tested, the prisoners were infected with spotted fever.  Then if a prisoner died, his case history was not sent in to the hospital, but collected for scientific purposes.  Only a short notation was made on his card that the man had died in Block 48.  On order of the Reich physician SS the cause of death on the prisoner records was changed to something else such as pneumonia, pleurisy or inflammation of the kidneys.  As far as choosing the prisoners for the experiments went, I am acquainted with the fact that many prisoners, especially from among the security prisoners, (Sicherhietsverwahrten) volunteered.  On order of Amtsgruppe D Professional criminals were transferred from other camps and sent tot he experimental laboratory in Buchenwald.  I was asked by SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER to help pick the victims because he did not chose to enter the limelight.  A man from the Criminal Police Department of the Reich, a Kriminalrat Otto, appeared for this purpose.  Only such prisoners were picked who had more than 10 years in prison, were under 40 years of age and who were able to meet the physical requirements of an SS man.  Such examinations took place two times, each time 20-30 prisoners were picked.  I very seldom had a chance to visit block 46, only when there was an inspection in which I took part.  Only twice was I there and within a few days in order to observe patients.  That was when, to comply with Dr. SCHULER's request, I went to observe the effectiveness of his vaccine.  He then asked me to continue the observations because he had to leave within the next few days.  I then did that.  I cannot give the number of deaths among experimental patients, in block 46, but I imagine that during the beginning, there were more deaths than towards the end.  I estimate the number of deaths recorded during the time I worked in the hospital building to be between 40 and 50.

Another experiment of SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER's was with a poison which the Russians supposedly used against Germans in Russia territory when they wanted to get rid of them.  SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER, as far as I know, had orders from the chief SS hygienist, SS Oberfuehrer Prof. Dr. Joachim MRUGOWSKI, to study how this poison takes effect and to use prisoners for the experiment.  I don't know how prisoners were chosen for this nor upon whose orders.  One day he asked me to visit the crematorium where the experiment was to take place.  There were, as far as I remember 4 to 6 prisoners.  When I got there the poison had already begun to take effect on some.  This was visible because the victims threw up, had stomach cramps and their faces had begun to discolor, one was unconscious; with the others there was less effect to be observed.  Since I had little time, I left soon and sent a Medical NCO down whom SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER had requested.  How the experiment continued, I don't know; I only heard later that all prisoners had died.  Another responsibility of being camp doctor was everything that had to do with disinfection.  The system of having a man in charge of hygiene in each block was new to me.  Their job was to check cleanliness, haircuts and twice a week to check the men for lice.  There were also many fleas, which had been imported by large transports of French, but they were gotten rid of quickly.  Bugs were imported toward the end of 1944, from infested barrack parts of camp Plaszow, which was being evacuated at the time.  Infested barracks were immediately disinfected and prisoners used for this purpose had to wash themselves thoroughly every night.  In spite of that, bugs were later found in some of the barracks.  The men supervising the disinfection were SS Unterscharfuehrers TRILLHASS, FRIEDRICH, BUTTE and HARRY, also the SS man SZAIKIS.   They also did that work with the troops.

Another responsibility was the checking of sanitary conditions in the kitchens etc.  They all, and especially the modern mass kitchen were always without fault.  Especially during the last months, due to the increasing number of prisoners, they had to be used day and night in several shifts.  Guards had to be placed so not too much of the kitchen stores would be stolen, and to assist the prisoners picking up the food for their blocks, as they were sometimes attacked by the youthful prisoners who were always loafing about.  Even when the food was distributed among the individual prisoners, it occurred that a weak man had to give way to a strong one and had to go away empty handed also that after they had already had the food, a fellow prisoner would take it from them by stealth or brutality.  The consequences were clear, he would get still weaker and after a while become helpless.  The block personnel were helpless because of the great overcrowding; and with all the nationalities represented, there wasn't even a reasonable way of making themselves understood.  The camp headquarters was also helpless, they were lacking blockleaders who were able to exclusively devote to their attention of the needs of any one block.  Those unpleasant conditions unfortunately did not get better as time went on, but got worse as more prisoners arrived in the camp.  In the small camp they were able to distribute the food more justly by having a chow line in the movie hall.

Pathology was another field under the supervision of the camp doctor.  For this there was part of a barrack next to a dissecting chamber near the crematorium.  The capo here was a chemist named MEGERER.  He was arrested by the Weimar Stapo towards the end of last year, and his place was taken by a czech physicist named Sitto who was "Privatdozent" (unsalaried lecturer) at the University of Prague.  Doctors wroking here were a Dutchman, Dr. HAMBURGER, a bacteriologist, and a French pathology expert.  I had impressed on the Capo for pathology the necessity to call me in the case of each corpse where a suspicion of unnatural death existed, so I could make an investigation at once.  This happened several times, in once case a Frenchman was beaten to death by his compatriots in the block because he was supposedly a stool pigeon who had betrayed many of his countrymen.  Similar cases occurred when the details working outside were recalled; one Dutch Capo on such a detail was beaten to death by his fellow prisoners.  When the outside detail working at Rheinmetall Borsig in Dusseldorf returned in the beginning of March 1945, three Capos were beaten to death by their fellow prisoners.  One day a Russian with bad head wounds was delivered to the hospital.  He had apparently gotten these in a political argument with his countrymen.  He had at the same time been menaced to commit suicide.  There was much political tension among the Russians.  One bloody incident, caused by this happened in the winter of 1943-44 when a Russian was beaten to death with an iron bar on the Campstrasse.

Those who got sick in one of the outside camps belonging to Buchenwald, were sent back to the main camp thus overcrowding the already plentiful sick, infirm and weak.  For those returnees a special war was arranged.  The Hungarian Jews, who came to the camp about the end of May 1944, caused a special lot of work, I myself went to the Brabag works in Troglitz to sort out the ill and those no longer capable of work.  Bad, practically non-existent ventilation resulted in making everything in camp damp, and the overcrowding of which we had complained to the management of the industry resulted in an undue number of diseases due to cold.  On the 30 or 31st of January this year, in a must of the whole camp, I myself picked out several hundred men no longer able to work, and a far greater number still of those who were fit to work on armaments as specialists but not fit to work on construction jobs.  Other outside work details, which remain in my memory because of the large number of ill returnees, were: Komanndo SCHMAL?? V. in Borga/Elstor, B II in Halberstadt, S III in Ohrdurf.  They were all building details.  Just as the sick rate of the returnees, so too the number of deaths, was high.  The deaths occurred mainly as a result of complications after colds, gastro-enteritis, heart and circulatory weakness, along with generally feeble bodily state.  Each death had to be reported to Buchenwald.  The death certificates were checked and approved by a medical NCO, if none was present, by the camp director (fuehrer) and the cause of death confirmed by the contract doctor (Vertragsarzt)

Another of the assigned duties of the camp doctor was the participation in affecting discipline; the doctor had to examine prisoners condemned to the flogging (Pruegelstrafe) as to their ability to bear such punishment.  During my stay at Buchenwald, I examined patients for two or three of these floggings, each time 10 to 15 prisoners who were receive, as approved, 5-25 blows according to the gravity of their crimes.

It was also the camp doctor's duty to attend executions.  I was not always able to attend in time and sent other doctors.  The doctors who also took part were:  SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Relph ROGGE, SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. Erich KATHER, SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr, MIRM????GH???.  SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. August BENDER did not much of this work because he visited patients in the afternoon.  During my time, I attended about 120 executions.  Only a very small minority of these were executions of war prisoners, the far greater majority were foreign workers especially sent to the camp for this who had been condemned for offences like plundering, sexual crimes, resisting arrest and stealing during blackouts.  Furthermore there were several SS and policemen, who had been condemned to death by SS courts among those executed.  According to instruction the men were shot or hanged, mostly the latter.  The job of the doctor was to confirm the death of the prisoner and to report this fact to the SS man in charge.  During my whole time in Buchenwald, I never heard of a Kommando SS in regard to which I was questioned here, and never took part in it it.
In addition, I'd like to report that I also attended three executions at Mauthausen, 2 shootings and one hanging.  All condemned were Poles; I remember only the cause of the latter.  He had raped a German girl.  The executions were carried out by a special squad of SS men, in charge was one SS Hauptsturmfuehrer ZOLLER, then a Judge Advocate officer (Gerichtsoffizier).  During my tour of duty at Ravensbrueck, I estimate that about 25 women were executed by shooting.  They were exclusively Polish women, who were already prisoners, whose sentences were only approved after a long time by the Governor-General.  These executions were carried out by the company commander in the presence of the camp commander, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Max KOEGEL.  Later, the executions were under SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Edmund BRAEUNING.  In Natzweiler, about 4 hangings took place; furthermore about 3 or 4 Russians were hanged for planning to break out of camp.  Here the camp commander SS Hauptsturmfuehrer KRAMER, was present but I don't know who was in charge.

Of the number of deaths in Mauthausen, I can only give 5-6 daily as a near estimate.  The score in Gusen was higher, about 15-20.  During the  winter, these figures were supposed to have increased.  In Flossenburg, I estimate the number at about 10 daily.  In the women's camp Ravensbrueck, there were hardly any deaths in the beginning, perhaps one, sometimes two or three a week.  But as the number and overcrowding of prisoners increased, so did the death toll, I guess that at the time there were 16000 to 18000 prisoners there were 10-15-20 deaths a week.  When  I came to Buchenwald, there were 6-10 deaths daily out of 20,000 prisoners.  This only goes for Buchenwald, not the outside details, because especially in the last months of 43 and the first of 44, the Kommandos Dora and Laura increased and on some days Dora had 40-50 deaths and Laura up to 20.  Due to the arrival of a transport of 6,000 Frenchmen during the last days January, 1944, a further general decline in health was observed.  Obviously these masses of prisoners were brought in without checking each individual man first, so that we found old men, amputation cases, cases of confusion of the brain dating from the first world war and men inflicted with all sorts of maladies; all of which was bound to raise the death and disease rate.  Also those prisoners coming in through ordinary channels were not in the best of health, especially prisoners brought in from the Stapo prisons were in a bad state of health when they came to the camp.  It was seen that the majority who died, died within a few weeks or even days after they arrived at the camp from diseases they had caught before they came to us.  Another increase in the death and sickness rate was brought about by repeatedly dragging in cases contagious diseases, like spotted fever, in spite of warnings to the authorities bringing them to us.  The number of unnatural deaths in Buchenwald was very small.  During the last year and 1/2 perhaps 10 people hanged themselves, 3-4 were shot while on flight, and 1-2 met death by running into the electrically charged barbed wire.  Among the outside details, the number was greater.  The number of industrial accidents leading to death can be correctly estimated at 5-6 for buchenwald.  Also the air attacks caused heavy losses among prisoners.  The following figures on prisoner losses due to air attacks I still remember; counting only prisoners:
Spring 1944: Elawerke in Leipzig, 12 dead.
June/July 1944:  Galsenberg AG, over 200 dead (Hungarian Jewesses).
20 July 1944:  Wintershall, Lutzendorf, 14 dead, 35 wounded
Fall, 1944: Camp Mauselwitz, 25 dead, 35 wounded (women).
9 February 1945: Gustloffwerke Weimar, 300 dead, 180 wounded.
9 February 1945:  Artern, 120 dead, 100 wounded (fighter bomber attack on prisoner transport)
24 February 1945: Weimar, 25 dead.
March, 1945:  Fighter bomber attack near Hofgarten on a transport returning with sick prisoners, 16 dead.

Besides this, several outside details in the Rhineland and the Brabagbetriebe were hit, but I don't remember the casualties.  I estimate that about 1500 prisoners altogether died as a result of the air attacks.

After the invasion, the camps in France and Belgium were evacuated, one almost wants to say, naturally to Buchenwald.  New prisoner transports arrived.  To make room for them at all, three big tents had to be erected for several thousand Frenchmen, Belgians and Dutchmen.  Their physical condition was no better than that of the first big transports from there, and due to the heat, there were cases of heat hyperemia and stroke on the transports and many dead were unloaded each time.  The identification of those dead gave a special amount of trouble because no one knew them by name, so we even went as far as to make photos of the dead and showed them around to the rest of the people from the transport for identification.  At this time, transports of Warsaw Poles also arrived; they were sent to Buchenwald after the socalled Warsaw revolt.  Amongst them were a small number of youths and children with relatives, another unforeseen burden ont he camp.  The number of sick, invalids and people unfit to work rose constantly.  During that time, it was reported to me by the prisoner doctor Katzenellenbogen that a number of English and North American fliers had come into the camp with a transport from France.  I immediately ordered a list of their names prepared and reported of this detail to the Kommandantur.  These soldiers were later transferred to a PW camp; I estimate their number at about 80.

Around September/October 1944, 2 transports with 1600 Danish police members arrived from Denmark, which put a heavy strain on the hospital due to the great amount of illness.  They required particular attention and were later transferred to a PW Camp near Torgau.  I don't want to close the chapter on the Danes without mentioning that here for the first time, numbers of the Red Cross found their way into the camp and were able to ease the situation of their countrymen.

About November, 1944, prisoners were transferred from Camp Stufhof near Danzig to Buchenwald.  They were meant for a new, urgent building project near Ohrdruf, which carried the name "S III."  For this, all available prisoners from all camps were furnished.  Of this, first transport, the majority of prisoners could not be used for this work because they were no longer capable of working.  There were a number of Estonians, Latvians, Poles and Russians who could not be used for any work whatsoever.  It was obvious on first glance that they would never get well again, but over a longer or shorter period of time, would die from general physical weakness.  This transport was followed by others which were no better, and the number of deaths rose constantly from that time on.  Even though the Kommando S III was not working under Buchenwald, but directly under Amtsgruppe D in Oranienburg, Buchenwald had the assignment to take in these prisoners coming from other camps and to sort them out, that is, to sent out the healthy ones and those capable of work, and to keep the others.  As time went by, the first evacuation transports came from Auschwitz; first one from Czenstochau, with about 3000 male Jews who had worked there in the Hasag factories. These were almost exclusively healthy strong men in the age group best suited for industrial work.  Contrary to this, there were objections to the flow of prisoners reaching S III, especially since some of the transports went there directly on orders of Amtsgruppe D without first hitting Buchenwald.  The steady and varied complaints made about the physical condition and number of the sick by S III were a strain on the camp doctor.  In the middle of December 1944, I got orders from SS Standartenfuehrer Dr. Enno LOLLING, head of Amt D III, to visit this Kommando and make a detailed report about conditions found.  Here, as was usual with Building Kommandos, there were difficult working conditions, and sometimes, long distances to reach working sites.  Also time off was very limited, and there was not sufficient clothing.  Buchenwald had to come and lend a helping hand.  There were very many sick, the majority suffered from external diseases; there were also many deaths resulting from heart and cirulatory troubles, pneumonia and gastro-enteritis.  I had the impression that here conditions, were particularly bad because the other camps had given a bad calibre of men to this project.  Hereto was added the order from Amtsgruppe D that only Russians, Poles and Jews were to be sent there.  Vermin had already become an acute problem in S III; by being transferred from toher caps, the prisoners were often put to work without having observed the usual quarantine period.  In the meantime, Amtsgruppe D ordered a change of doctors; they ordered SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Heinrich PLAZE to S III in the beginning of December, 1944; he was relieved by SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. Werner GREUNUS in the beginning of January.  Dr. THALER, an Oberarzt (First lieutenant, Med.) of the Luftwaffe was detached for duty with the SS III [sic].  In the beginning, he only took care of the troops, later also part of the prisoners in one of the camps,  SS Untersturmfuehrer Dr. GREUNUS periodically picked out prisoners no longer able to work, who were then sent to Bergen-Belsen.  As far as I remember, there were 2 or 3 such transports, with 1000 prisoners each, which went directly from S III to Bergen Belsen.  In the middle of February, 1945, the alarming news came, that spotted fever had broken out in this Kommando.  An immediate visit, together with SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. SCHULER, the consultant hygienist, confirmed this.  At the end of January, prisoners infected with spotted fever were transferred, during the incubation period, from 2 outside camps of Dachau directly to S III.  Every thin was done to confine the disease to its original scape so that work could be continued.  The death rate of this disease can only be called relatively high, considerably more prisoners died from other diseases.
For example, in the middle of January of this year, I got the death and sickness records of about 760 prisoners who had died there approximately between the end of November and the beginning of December.  The problem of getting rid of the corpses became a big problem for this Kommando.  In the beginning, corpses of dead prisoners, about 50 in all, were continually brought to Buchenwald, but this became impossible because of the lack of motor fuel, so that, though only for a short while, they were brought to the crematorium in Gotha until it was bombed out.  Then there was no other way but burial. although the Kommando kept urging cremation on funeral pyres.  Therefore the chief and consultant hygienists of the project picked out a site where the burials permitted by Amtsgruppe D were carried out, I don't know how many were taken care of in this way.  To, find replacements for people in this Kommando was not easy, even though large numbers of prisoners arrived by continual transports at Buchenwald and the remaining camps from Auschwitz and later Gross-Rosen.  But these men were in such poor physical condition that only a very small minority could be considered for work.  First, they all needed to recover from the strenuous trip.  They almost always at first marched great distances during cold weather, walking their feet sore, then they were so closely packed into partly open freight cars that they could only stand up.  The results were frozen limbs, inflammations of the wounded feet and complications due to the cold.  Food supplies were used up and new ones could not be gotten on the trip.  Besides hunger, thirst tortured the prisoners, during the short delay in stations, no warm drink could be gotten so quickly.  A large number of prisoners died on the way from exhaustion and weakness; those who arrived alive were so down and out that they could hardly stand on their feet, and were unable to bear even the slightest physical exertion.  During the next few hours and days, many of the new arrivals died.  There were transports which carried great numbers of dead with them; others had already unloaded them on the way to make room for the living.  I remember one transport which had unloaded 400 dead on the road and arrived in Buchenwald with 120 more.  I got the order from the camp commander to report the daily deaths of an other transport; there were several hundred but I don't remember the exact number.  Difficulties and more difficulties resulted, not alone as regarded the billeting of these messes of people, but also as regarded the medical care of these pitiful figures.  The hospital area and dispensary of the small camp were no longer sufficient for this purpose because there was no more room.  So to a large extent they had to be housed in the barracks of the small camp.  A further job of the camp doctors was to write out death certificates which was very difficult because there were no transports lists, and the dead often had various prisoner numbers on their clothing.  there was still an advantage in that most of the prisoners came from Auschwitz and had a number tattooed on the underside of their left arm, which made it possible to identify them.  The morgue in the dissecting room was no longer sufficient for such great numbers of corpses, so that the fenced in yard of the pathology building temporarily had to be used to store the dead as they were unloaded.  Also determining the cause and time of death could no longer be done exactly.  Lists were made of those who arrived dead in so far as they could be named; the cause of death was given as general exhaustion combined with heart and circulatory trouble, unless by inspection other causes of an external nature could be determined, such as advanced frost bite, phlegmon etc.  The crematorium was also hard to keep up because a coal shortage existed.  There was to come a time when this became altogether impossible.  Now the question of a suitable burial ground for the dead raising itself.  One site was chosen near the Eismark to or about 400-600 meters beyond the chain of guards.  The burials were accomplished by a special detail of prisoners.  These burials were not performed from a definite point of time on, but only then when no fuel was available and the number of dead ready for cremation was so high that their lying around could become a health hazard.  As far as I remember, the prisoners working in the crematorium, upon my asking about the number of dead thus buried, told me 1860.  This, a few days before the occupation of Buchenwald.  Without counting those who went directly to outside Kommandos, about 10000 to 12000 prisoners must have been transferred from the Camp Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen between about the end of October 1944 and February 1945.  Here it has to be mentioned that those who came from Gross-Rosen were in still poorer shape than those who came from Auschwitz.  Since sometimes women transports also came to Buchenwald, which were then sent further on, there was often long delays at the RR[?] station.  Here the lack of a greater latrine facilities proved to be of great disadvantage.
The number of sick sent in from the outside Kommandos also rose steadily, so that the number of sick in Buchenwald increased some more; the hospital always had 2200-2400 bed patients in its various housing facilities at this time.
Around this time, February, 1945, the return of outside Kommandos due to the approaching enemy also started.  They returned if at all possible to the mother camp, most of them marching, and all had at least to march considerable distance before they could be transported by train.  All these brought along their sick and exhausted who needed rest and quiet for the time being.
About February of this year, a transport of 650 prisoners, no longer able to walk, arrived from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  They had been evacuated to save them from the Russians.  Then during the month of March, a flood of returnees from outside Kommandos started that increased and reached its height towards the beginning of April when Kommando S III began arriving at Buchenwald in big and small streams of refugees.  Thus the camp reached its highest point of 48,000 prisoners.  Due to the large number of sick, the patients had to be discharged from the hospital prematurely and were turned over to the care of the block doctors.  These block doctors were an old arrangement of the little camps which required them because of having had for a long time a great number of sick and because of the type, turnover and composition of its inmates.  They were the ones who picked out those prisoners who, due to weakness and life endangering illness, could not longer live in the overcrowded blocks.  They also reported those who had contagious infectious diseases and had to be removed from the blocks.  This epidemic control was taken over from the prisoner doctor KATZENELLENBOGEN was caught in the middle of January 1945 smuggling letters out of camp, and the political department asked that he be relieved.  Every morning, Dr. KAAS reported the number of infectious diseases, increases, decreases and any other happenings that would be of interest to a physician, that happened in the little camp.  These transfers to Block 61 were also supervised by the vice Capo of the hospital, Otto Kipp, whose main job was to supervise sanitation and cleanliness in the little camp.  I missed him around the end of January of this year and mentioned this fact, but was told that he was busy in the little camp sorting out all the sick and transferring them to Block 61.  One day, it might have been in the beginning of February, SS Hauptscharfuehrer FRIEDRICH Wilhelm reported to me that he caught prisoner sanitation personnal in block 61 giving life shortening injections to patients.  The prisoners had explained to him that the number of prisoners near death and dead was increasing, these - mostly dysentery patients - were discharging their pus and blood laden excrement under themselves, and that the danger existed that because of the crowded wards, the disease would spread through the block and the rest of the camp.  In order to ease the death of those hopelessly sick, who were beyond hope of recovery, the most extreme measure had been taken and they were given injections.  Also the source of infection was thus removed sooner than it would be by natural death, and thus spreading of the disease was being combated.  What kind of injections were made and who gave them, I don't know; nor do I know how many prisoners they were given.  The developments of the first months of this year: overcrowding, the bad and insufficient housing, their results and impending consequences were known by higher headquarters, especially Amtsgruppe D through continuous reports and messages.  Also by the doctors, the continuous large number of sick, invalids, diseased and other occurrences were reported orally and in writing.  On the basis of all this, Buchenwald received permission from Amstgruppe D to evacuate 2000 sick who were unfit to work to the camp for the sick, Bergen-Belsen.  These were picked in a very short time and sent there about the middle of March. Around 20 March, the head of the Economic and Administrative Main Office (Wirtschaftsverwaltungs-Hauptamt), SS Obergruppenfuehrer OSWALD POHL together with the head of Amt D III, SS Standartenfuehrer Dr. Enno LOLLING and a representative of Amstgruppe D, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer HOESS, came to inspect Buchenwald.  They came mainly to settle the problem of housing further prisoners, as well as to determine the number of sick, invalids and others not capable of working and to see about their billeting and possible occupation.
Through the return of thousands of prisoners from the outside Kommandos, the number of the sick and weak rose considerably.  On the day Buchenwald was liberated, the following figures were reported to me from the office: 2640 bad patients, around 3000 invalids and convalescents, 5000-6000 prisoners not capable of being transported, the latter figure is only an estimated figure because about 27,000 had been evacuated from the camp several days before.  In my estimation, half of the 21,000 remaining behind could not be transported.  This evacuation was executed on orders of the highest authorities, because of security and feeding problems of the civilians.  The Gauleiter of Thuringen, SAUCKEL, the Reich Defense Commissioner and the competent higher SS and Police Officer for the region, SS Obergruppenfuehrer Erbprinz zu WALDECK and PYRMONT had agreed to this.  A telephone or radio message came, I presume from Berlin, on the evening of 6 April, whether from Reichsfuehrer SS
[end of page 17, TBC]

No comments:

Post a Comment