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Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/belzec pfannen.001
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   From the deposition of Wilhelm Pfannenstiel before the Darmstadt
   Court, June 6, 1950: 

   I was trained in hygiene and assigned to work in the this field
   during the war.  I was occasionally called upon in connection with
   disinfection work, for which, as I already knew at the time, liquid
   prussic acid was used.  I myself, however, never worked with this
   during the war.  This liquid form of prussic acid was also called
   Zyklon B.  During the summer of 1942, as a specialist in hygiene, I
   was ordered to proceed to Lublin to assist in an advisory capacity
   in urban sanitation work (supply of drinking water, sewage
   disposal).  I accordingly went to Berlin to obtain a car because by
   that time the train journey was taking too long.  I was unable to
   get the use of a car, but I was told that Dr.  Gerstein was
   traveling to Lublin and I was instructed to get in touche with him,
   which I did.  Dr.  Gerstein told me that he would have to travel by
   way of Prague and I agreed to go along.  An empty truck made the
   journey behind our car.  As we drove, Dr.  Gerstein explained to me
   that he had to go to pick up some prussic acid from a plat at Kolin
   near Prague.  He didn't tell me what it was to be used for and I
   did not ask him.  Knowing that Dr.  Gerstein was in charge of
   disinfection work, I thought it quite natural that the acid should
   be intended for that purpose.  But I soon learned at the factory -
   it was a small plant - that the chemical in question was gaseous
   prussic acid.  Until then, I had been unaware of the existence of
   prussic acid in that form.  But its disadvantages were pointed out
   to me at the same time, namely that, under considerable pressure,
   it decomposed.  Dr.  Gerstein and I then went on to Lublin.  During
   the journey, one of the cylinders started to let in air and had to
   be buried.  At Lublin, I carried out my assigned tasks.  In this
   connection, I learned that there was a camp at Belzec where Jews
   were killed.  I wanted to see it.  The camp was under the direction
   of a man named Wirth and it had been equipped by S.S.  Police Chief
   Globocnik, who was also a Brigade Commander (S.S.) and a Police
   General.  I made the acquaintance of the latter through Dr.
   Gerstein, who had often been to Lublin and Belzec.  I, too, had
   business with him because he was my superior...I asked if I might
   view the camp.  Globocnik, who was very proud of his institution,
   granted permission and took Gerstein and myself into the camp.
   Next morning, a shipment of Jews - men, women, and some children -
   arrived...They were ordered to strip completely and to hand over
   their possessions.  They were informed that they were to be
   incorporated into a working process and must be deloused to prevent
   epidemics.  They would also have to inhale something.

   After the women's hair had been cut off, the whole shipment of
   people was taken to a building containing six rooms.  On that
   occasion, to my knowledge, only four [of these] were used.  After
   these people had been shut up in the rooms, the exhaust gas from an
   engine was piped in.  Gerstein stated that it took about eighteen
   minutes before quiet was restored inside.  While the Jews were
   being taken in, the rooms were lit up with electric light and
   everything passed off peacefully.  But when the lights were turned
   off, loud cries burst out inside, which then gradually died away.
   As soon as everything was quiet again, the doors in the outside
   walls were opened, the corpses were brought out, and, after being
   searched for gold teeth, they were stacked in a trench.  Here, too,
   the work was done by Jews.  No doctor was present.  I noticed
   nothing special about the corpses, except that some of them showed
   a bluish puffiness about the face.  But this is not surprising
   since they had died of asphyxiation.  If my memory serves me
   correctly, I returned to Lublin that same day with Dr.  Gerstein.

   When Globocnik authorized me to visit the camp, he made it clear to
   me that I must not talk about it to anyone, on pain of death.  When
   I got back to Berlin, I informed Professor Grawitz, the senior
   physician of the S.S., of what I had seen and expressed to him the
   horror that I felt.  He assured me that he would see to it that
   this business was stopped.  I have no idea what happened then.

   The fact of my having asked to visit the camp may no doubt be
   attributed to a certain curiosity on my part.  I wanted to know in
   particular if this process of exterminating human beings was
   accompanied by any acts of cruelty.  I found it especially cruel
   that death did not set in until eighteen minutes had passed.  I
   told Globocnik so.  He replied that this would go better with
   prussic acid, but, so far as I know, this acid was never used
   because Gerstein pointed out to him the dangers inherent in the use
   of gaseous prussic acid.  If my information is correct, the
   cylinders of prussic acid were buried.

   I know that Dr.  Gerstein gives an entirely different description
   of this gassing scene.  That version is false.  It is full of
   exaggerations.  What is characteristic in this respect is
   Gerstein's assertion that, in his view, about 25,000,000 people had
   been subjected to this treatment.  As he tole me himself on that
   occasion, he had been to Belzec a number of times.  It is possible
   taht he may have witnessed scenes similar to those he describes and
   that, in his report of April 26, 1945, he was no longer
   differentiating between the visits, but giving a summary picture of
   them.  Thus, he mentions a certain S.S.  officer Gu"nther who is
   supposed to have traveled with us, but we traveled alone.  In other
   respects, too, the Report is full of inaccuracies.  I maintain
   especially that I did not say: "as they do in a synagogue." Even if
   I should have made such a remark, it was not in the sense imputed
   to me by Gerstein, as if to suggest that I was poking fun at the
   torments of the prisoners.  The situation was much too dreadful for

   I have never been to Treblinka.  Dr.  Gerstein's report is
   inaccurate on this point as well.  I have a feeling that Dr.
   Gerstein made charges against me because he knew that I was the
   only living witness who can testify about him and his activity in
   connection with the use of prussic acid.  I presume that he wanted
   to eliminate me [as a witness].  (Friedla"nder, 116-120)

                          Work Cited

   Friedla"nder, Saul. Counterfeit Nazi. New York: Knopf, 1969

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