The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.07

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.07
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   While we are just looking at this map, you mentioned the
        word "tourist".  Is Auschwitz a major tourist attraction,
   A.   At the moment, the tourism has been reduced in past years
        because it used to be that the Polish Government insisted
        that all Polish school children would go there.  That has
        changed.  So I think that around 500,000 people per year
        come there.
   Q.   Whilst we are holding this particular map, can you
        identify what these two circular objects are?
   A.   These are part of a sewage treatment plant.
   Q.   A water purification plant?
   A.   Yes -- no, a sewage treatment plant.
   Q.   Well, it is the same thing.  It converts sewage into
        drinkable water?
   A.   No.  This was not meant to convert sewage into drinkable
        water.  This was created, and we see another one right
        here, and there was another one started right there,
        because there were complaints in 1942 when the Birkenhau
        population started to increase by the authorities in the

.          P-57

        province of Upper Silesia that the camp was throwing its
        untreated sewage in the Zola River.  So what happened was
        that the building inspectors of the county said, "If you
        want to continue to run this concentration camp, you have
        to take care that you throw cleaned water or the clean
        sewage into the river".
   Q.   While we are dealing with the water, this is crematorium
        (ii), this is the Leichenkeller No. 1 -- we will come back
        to that in a minute on a larger photograph -- am I correct?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   This is the water treatment plant?
   A.   It is a water treatment plant.
   Q.   If eight kilogrammes of cyanide were put into the water
        system there, of that particular building, it would not do
        the water treatment plant any good?
   A.   Sorry, this is a sewage treatment plant.
   Q.   Yes, but if it was to be established that there was a link
        between that building and the sewage treatment plant, the
        drainage of the one building went into the sewage
        treatment plant, then this would create a serious problem
        for the environment, eight kilogrammes on a regular basis
        of hydrogen cyanide being fed ----
   A.   I cannot comment on how much cyanide -- how
        quickly cyanide would be diluted.  Certainly, a sewage
        treatment plant is taking many kinds of refuse in its

.          P-58

        operation.  One would have to talk to a chemist what
        ultimately the kind of danger of the dilution of hydrogen
        cyanide would be, but we must not forget that most of the
        hydrogen cyanide in the Leichenkeller 1 was used as a gas
        and was evacuated through a chimney and not through the
   Q.   Very well.  But we have heard that it is a heavier than
        air gas?
   A.   No.  It is slightly lighter.  It is not much lighter.  It
        rises slowly, but there was a large ventilation system in
        the crematorium and there was an exhaust pipe on top of
        the crematorium through which the air in the Leichenkeller
        1 or gas chamber could be evacuated.
   Q.   While we are looking at this particular map, will you show
        us, please, the railroad spur which ends between the two
   A.   We see the end of the railroad spur right there.
   Q.   Which is the platform, therefore, where the notorious
        selections are said to have taken place?
   A.   This is the end of the platform where the selections took
   Q.   So they would be marched off then -- what happened to the
        people who arrived by train on that railroad platform?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   What happened to them?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That was a question.

.          P-59

   A.   A selection took place at a particular point halfway, that
        platform, and this is, we are now talking about a
        situation in 1944, since the spur was only completed in
        1944 for the Hungarian action, and the most usual
        operation was that the selection took place halfway, that
        platform, in which men and women were lined up in four
        rows.  One row of women to the east and a line of women to
        the west of that point, and two lines of men, again one to
        the east and one to the west, and right in the centre
        selection took place and then people were either sent into
        the camp or sent to the crematorium.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  My impression is that a similar, the spur may
        not have been there, selection process operated during
        1943 as well, did it not?
   A.   The section process in 1943 was different since it
        happened at the so-called Judens rampe.  A Juden rampe
        was, basically, an unloading point along the main railway
        corridor.  I can point it out on this aerial photo.  This
        is the main railway corridor connecting, basically, Vienna
        and there is one going to Berlin here and Cracow and
        Warsaw; and exactly at this point, at this point, there
        are still the remains also of a rampe, a platform, where
        the trains with Jews would be unloaded and then a
        selection took place here.  Then people who were admitted
        to the camp walked to the camp and the people who were
        selected to die, if they still could walk, would walk, but

.          P-60

        otherwise were taken on trucks to the gas chambers of the
        crematoria or the gas chambers of bunker 1 and 2.
   MR IRVING:  May I ask you some questions about that selection
        process now, please?  On what basis was the selection for
        life or death conducted?
   A.   It would depend really on the situation.  The policies of
        the Germans seem to have been different at different
        times.  To give one example, as a general rule, let us
        first say for a general rule, one could say that, as far
        as gentiles was concerned, and gentiles were sent to
        Auschwitz, there was no selection on arrival.  For
        example, Poles, a large group of Polish children came to
        Auschwitz from the Zamoska area and were admitted to the
        camp, and you can go to the present women's camp and there
        are barracks specially for children with paintings and the
        bits of school, and so on.
   Q.   At what age does one cease to be a child?
   A.   In Auschwitz, I would say around 12 or 13 years.
   Q.   What age was Anne Frank when she arrived in Auschwitz?
   A.   Oh, she would have been 15.
   Q.   About 15?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Yes.  Did she fall ill in Auschwitz?
   A.   I do not think so.  I think she fell ill when she came to
   Q.   Did any members of her family fall in Auschwitz and where

.          P-61

        they housed in a hospital in Auschwitz, her father or her
        sister, Margot?
   A.   Her mother fell ill and ultimately died, and her father
        fell ill and was admitted to the Lazarett.
   Q.   So these were six Jews, unemployable six Jews, who were
        housed in the hospital in Auschwitz?
   A.   Yes, but again one -- as I started to give my original
        presentation, my Lord, and maybe I can finish it?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, we will come back to Anne Frank if you
        want to.  You have dealt with ----
   A.   I would like ----
   Q.   He was dealing with the various ways in which the
        selection process occurred.  If it was non-Jews, then
        there was no selection process.  That is as far as you
        have got.
   A.   There was no selection process.  If it were Jews, then it
        depends on which town we are speaking of and what is the
        kind of transport that arrived.  For example, in early
        1942 transports arrived of Jews who were sent to Auschwitz
        under the umbrella of what is called the Operation Schmelt
        which was a local work programme for Jews in Upper Silesia.
                  There the selection took place at the factories
        and people who could not work any more in the Operation
        Schmelt were sent to Jews and were killed there without
        selection.  So there was no selection there in Auschwitz.

.          P-62

        Selection had happened somewhere else.
                  In general, what happened was that transports
        arrived and sometimes transport arrived in Auschwitz where
        again the selection had taken place somewhere else.  For
        example, the Slovac transport which arrived in 1942, most
        of the early Slovac transports were Jews who had already
        been selected back in Slovakia in transits camps as being
        fit for work in Auschwitz.  No selection was applied to
        these transports.
                  Then at a certain moment transports start to
        arrive where no selection takes place at the point of
        departure, and then the selection will take place in
        Auschwitz, where again the situation can be different.
        Sometimes all children and all old people are selected to
        die and younger people are selected to live, but again
        there are exceptions.
   MR IRVING:  May I interrupt you at this point and ask you what
        is the documentary basis for these remarks you have been
        making over the last two or three minutes?  Is it all
        eyewitness evidence or are there any documents at all in
        the captured archives to support this, any document
   A.   The main source of this is eyewitness evidence.  There are
        documents which talk about that, that transport arrives
        and only so many arbeitsfahige Juden have been admitted to
        the camp, which means Jews were fit to work.  It does not

.          P-63

        specify the fate of the others.
   Q.   So far as the documents go, we are left in suspense as to
        what happens to them and we rely entirely on the
        eyewitness evidence of those left behind, so to speak, as
        to what happened to their loved, nearest and dearest?
   A.   It is obvious that, when a transport of, let us say, 2,000
        Jews arrived and only 900 or 600 people are committed to
        camp, of course the question is raised what happens to the
        other people.  Then at that moment I think eyewitness
        testimony, both from Jews and Germans, becomes quite valid
        as a historical source.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You get the disparity between those two
        figures from the numbers given on the documents relating
        to the trains that were arriving at Auschwitz?
   A.   Yes.
   MR IRVING:  So, in other words, we are reliant entirely on the
        eyewitness testimony?
   A.   We do not rely entirely.  We know at a certain movement
        that so many people arrived, so many people were
        considered fit for work and then, of course, there are the
        registration numbers.  There is a great disparity between
        what we know about the number of transports arrived there
        and the number of Jews who worked at Auschwitz, and the
        number of people who were registered there, because, with
        two exceptions again, registration happened consecutively,
        which means a number that had been given out once was not

.          P-64

        given out a second time.
   Q.   What is the total number of registration numbers that we
        know about in Auschwitz, in round figures?
   A.   Around 400,000.
   Q.   So around 400,000 of these hapless people arrived in
        Auschwitz, were given registration numbers and officially
        existed, and the rest had no registration numbers and they
        just were disposed of in some way.  Is that what you are
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Yes, but as to how they were disposed of, alas, the
        archives tell us nothing, neither the Moscow archives nor
        the Polish archives.  We are reliant on eyewitness
        testimony and on our own common sense?
   A.   And at a certain moment a careful investigation of the
        machinery of murder, in this case the crematoria.
   Q.   Which comes back to crematorium number 2 effectively?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think the Professor wants to add something.
   A.   I would like maybe to complete my account of selection.
        There are one or two other categories, I think, that
        I need to mention before we close on this.
   MR IRVING:  We have not closed on it.  We are going to come
        back to it.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let him finish with the various

.          P-65

   A.   I must mention that, for example, in 1943 and 1944 a
        number of Jews transports arrived from Theresienstadt
        where none of these people were selected, with children
        and old people were housed in what is called a
        Theresienstadt lager in Auschwitz, so Jews' children at
        that time were admitted to Auschwitz, and also old
        people.  That was part of a camouflage action by the SS
        because they feared, or they expected, a Red Cross
        inspection of Theresienstadt and wanted to be able to
        account for the people who had been sent to Auschwitz.
   MR IRVING:  What is your documentary basis for making that
   A.   The documentary basis?

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