The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 70
(Part 4 of 6)

Q. Please look at the rubber stamp: "SS Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt, Amtsgruppenchef D, Konzentrationslager" (Economic-Administrative Main Office, Chief of Section D, Concentration Camps). On the surface, this gives the impression as if it were signed, not inside the camp, but elsewhere. Perhaps you know what the practice was?

A. I see this for the first time, but I suppose it is a general form for all the camps. And afterwards, according to the rubber stamps, it could be changed...that is to say, if it says "Auschwitz" here, the rubber stamp was from Auschwitz, and then it referred to Auschwitz.

Q. But here, in this stamp, the word "Auschwitz" does not appear. Accordingly, I am asking you whether it was prepared in advance, for example, or whether it was sent to some place outside Auschwitz for signature. Do you know anything about that?

A. No, I cannot express my opinion on that.

Judge Raveh: Thank you very much.

Judge Halevi: Mrs. Kagan, with regard to the registration of deaths, you say there were many categories. There were all kinds of diseases on the form, in the registration I mean, and, apart from that, there was "ploetzlicher Herztod und SB" (sudden heart attack and S.B.)?

Witness Kagan: "SB" did not belong to the death register, definitely not. There was no record of that - we did not register it.

Q. What was "SB"?

A. "SB" meant a selection made inside the camp.

Q. Where did the letters "SB" appear?

A. There was a stamp on the form of the Aufnahme (reception), and that was all.

Q. And this was a sign that the person had been sent to the gas chambers?

A. Of course.

Q. And that, too, was discontinued from a certain date?

A. That continued all the time - not much work was involved in it. I have only explained the first stage in my work. My task was to summarize the personal data on a small form, and what was necessary in order to prepare the death register. We had a whole cabinet full of death registers, and this furnished the particulars. There were the personal data, the profession and so on, and on every form it said: "Died in Auschwitz, Kasernestrasse" (Barracks Street).

Q. What was the importance of that?

A. Kasernestrasse, Auschwitz, was the so-called main street of Auschwitz, where the command headquarters were, and opposite it were the house of Hoess, our department, the crematorium, and the SS Revier. All this was Kasernestrasse, Auschwitz. And if some unfortunate man died in the mud at Birkenau - he obviously did not die in the Kasernestrasse at Auschwitz. There was a general distortion of the facts. And it is an interesting fact to notice the German thoroughness in recording all the details, when they knew from the start that they were falsified, and in sending reports, month by month, to the statistical department of the head office in Berlin.

Q. What was sent to Berlin?

A. Every month a form was sent with the number of deaths. And from our material, we prepared a massive amount of material, and there were huge death registers.

Q. How many deaths were there per month?

A. It is difficult to say. I can, of course, point to the most terrible period. That was, of course, the second half of 1942, since, after that by comparison Auschwitz was very much better, as it were. And I am referring to the situation regarding the camp - I am not talking about the transports which came from outside the camp. From that point of view, 1944 was the peak. In November-December 1942, we registered about five hundred women alone, each day, and the same number - or more - of men.

Q. And those who were sent straight from the railway station?

A. There was no sign of them.

Q. Then they also did not appear in the monthly statistical reports?

A. Of course; Hoess said that only Eichmann knew these numbers.

Q. That means that in all your records in Auschwitz, not only yours personally, but in all the records, the record system, as far as you were familiar with the Politische Abteilung and with all the departments, there was no complete register of the deaths?

A. What do you mean by a complete register?

Q. In the sense that, if these documents were found, it would have been possible to compile a reconstruction of how many people died in Auschwitz.

A. No, that would not have been correct, since there were errors.

Q. Leaving aside the errors?

A. For example, my friend came into the camp as a dead person, and I registered her.

Q. These are isolated cases, but all those who were sent to the gas chambers from the railway station - they were not registered at all?

A. They were not registered at all - the "SB" were not registered.

Q. But the "SB," you say, were registered in the "Aufnahmebogen" (reception form).

A. They were registered on the form, but not in the "Urkunde", not in the death registers.

Q. In such a way as to make it impossible to prepare a reconstruction from these lists?

A. It would have been very difficult. It would have been possible to make a reconstruction from all kinds of entries that these were people who died a "normal" death, and cases of suicide and killing - those were the cases that were registered.

Q. These were, in fact, not the usual cases of Auschwitz, one could say?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know the date when the gas operations were discontinued?

A. That was after the explosion, in November, that is my estimate, in November 1944.

Q. What explosion?

A. The blowing up of the crematorium at the time of the revolt. The crematorium - that was the first sign. And after that came a notification from Berlin to stop the extermination in the gas chambers.

Q. Do you know the date of the notification from Berlin?

A. No.

Q. But it was after the revolt?

A. Yes, after the revolt.

Q. Was the explosion at the crematorium an operation of the revolt?

A. Absolutely. Four girls transferred the explosives on their bodies and placed the explosive materials in cans, and these cans caused the explosion. They brought the explosive materials to the Sonderkommando, and they carried out the operation.

Q. That was in November?

A. No, it was in October. There was another interesting fact. They put to death all the members of the Sonderkommando - only a small group of twelve men was left alive. And they were in a bunker in Auschwitz in Block 11, so that they could give an account of this operation. And one of those who dealt with it, Unterscharfuehrer Broch, he dealt with the revolt, he dealt with the girls - once he wanted to see one of these men who had remained in the bunker. But, by that time, he did not find them alive, since it was the practice to clear the bunker of people every month.

These, too, I registered. This I know for a fact, since in the autumn of 1944 I translated - I translated a great deal; I was also a translator - I translated for the Katowice Gestapo, and for a long time, about two weeks, I translated for a Pole from Auschwitz, and I remember that his name was...

Q. Pardon me, I did not ask you this. I wanted to know whether, after the explosion in October, they continued the extermination by gas?

A. Yes.

Q. Until the order was received from Berlin?

A. Yes.

Q. And the order from Berlin came in November?

A. Yes, but I cannot say when, exactly.

Q. Did the order put an end to the use of the gas chambers and the crematorium?

A. Yes.

Q. After that time, were there still other methods of killing?

A. Yes. But I can say this only with reservations. I only heard about it, and I did not see it. One of my acquaintances told me about it, a Russian girl, a chemist who visited Auschwitz and who had a most interesting life history.

Q. Very well, but in brief.

A. This woman was being pursued by Mengele - there were reasons for that. She hid in all kinds of places, and once she told me that she had found an empty block, the entire floor of which was covered in blood; as she found out, the men had been taken and were told that blood was needed for the soldiers at the front, and they drew blood from them and, since under the Auschwitz regime they could not recover, they all died. This blood was not dispatched - it was poured out.

Q. I have not yet understood exactly whether your office - or one of those offices with which you were familiar - if the office received continuous information about cases of death.

A. Whether it received continuous reports?

Q. For example, "SB" - on what basis was it possible to apply the stamp "SB"? On the basis of information?

A. Let me explain to you how it was. In Birkenau, a selection was made, and the list of the people who were due to die was passed on to the Politische Abteilung. There the cards were entered.

Q. Every selection, in fact, was passed on to you?

A. Not the Standesamt, only the Registratur.

Q. Then you could not know?

A. I only knew what I heard.

Q. Were there further selections in Auschwitz and in Birkenau after November 1944?

A. It is difficult for me to say. I do not think so, since the camp also was emptied in the meantime, and very many transports were dispatched, both of Jewish men and women, as well as Poles, Russians and Czechs. For all the staff were...

Q. Did you remain in Auschwitz until the end?

A. Until 18 January.

Q. And then you were transferred - on a foot march or by train?

A. For four days and nights, we walked on foot. In Loslau, we were loaded on to open coal trucks. I merely wanted to add...

Presiding Judge: Would you please confine yourself to the questions that have been put to you. After all, there was an ocean of occurrences.

Witness Kagan: I only wanted to add...

Presiding Judge: You did not want to add - that is to say, you wanted to, but we could not permit you to do so.

Judge Halevi: You do not know the number of people who left Auschwitz ultimately, together with you?

A. I don't know.

Presiding Judge: I understood that, concerning those who came from the ramp, as you have called it, from the railway platform, there was no registration by names, as it was called. Is that correct?

Witness Kagan: Yes.

Q. Have you heard of the initials RSHA?

A. Definitely.

Q. Was any report sent from your office to the RSHA, as far as you know?

A. Possibly there was.

Q. Not "possibly". I want to know...

A. I don't know about that. The Standesamt did not report.

Q. You said you know something about the destruction of documents in this office?

A. That is exactly what I wanted to add.

Q. All right then, be patient. Please proceed.

A. On the 17th, a week before the evacuation, when the Russians were close to Cracow, Schwarz, who replaced Grabner, came to all the rooms and gave instructions what to do, what to destroy. And during that week, we removed all the cards of the deceased, all the forms. Of course, some remained, fortunately, but there was plenty of work. And afterwards, on the 17th we formed a chain of all the workers in the office, and all of us had to load all this material on to trucks and, apparently, it was destined to be burned at Birkenau.

Q. Hence, nothing remained of the documents that were in the office, as far as you know?

A. I do know - I also pointed that out at the time. I knew that the death registers (Todesbuecher) were kept in duplicate. One was the main copy, the original, and the other copy went to Bielsko, to the "Kreisgericht" (district court), and I don't know what happened to all of them.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, are you going to lead special evidence on the tattooing? If not, I wanted to ask the witness about it.

Attorney General: No special evidence.

Presiding Judge: Please tell us, when did they make the tattoo mark, and who did it?

Witness Kagan: With us, it was done at the beginning of the autumn of 1942, when we were already back in the Stabsgebaeude, that is to say in Auschwitz. One fine day, we went to have our lunch...

Q. Was it not immediately upon your entry into the camp?

A. No, perhaps later on it was done immediately, but not with my transport. An SS man, not an officer, came, accompanied by two very young lads, Jews, and they did it.

Q. And did this go according to numerical order?

A. It went according to the numerical order, according to our mark. For everyone had several designations: this well- known Star of David, yellow and red, with the number on top; then there was a number here and a number there.

Q. Was that the registration number?

A. The registration number of the Aufnahme.

Q. So that it also conformed with your records?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: Perhaps I may be permitted to ask a question in connection with this. Those who were brought directly from the ramp to the gas chambers did not get numbers at all?

Witness Kagan: Not only they. There were Hungarian transports...

Q. But before all those, they did not get numbers at all?

A. They did not.

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