The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Testimony of Dr. Hans W. Muench
Trials of War Criminals, Vol. VIII. p. 313-321

Q. What was your first impression of Auschwitz when you arrived?

A. I had already heard about extermination camps, and particularly extermination camps for Jews, through reports over the Swiss radio that I listened to regularly in the preceding years, but since I considered this news to be propaganda, I did not believe it at the time, because the facts that were being described seemed too terribly outrageous to me. When I arrived in Auschwitz, and had to convince myself personally that these reports were not exaggerated, I was very much shaken emotionally.


Q. Mr. witness, you were informed about the fact that human beings were gassed at Auschwitz?

A. Yes.


Q. Mr. witness, for what reason did you not spread the fact that human beings were being gassed and exterminated?

A. I was asked this very often and also before the Supreme Court of Cracow, and I can say in answer to it that that would have been a completely useless undertaking which would have very shortly caused me and my family to be liquidated very quickly, because the Gestapo was so well organized and the threats for nonobservance of the secrecy that surrounded the Auschwitz exterminations were so clearly worded for members of the SS that everybody avoided telling even his closest friend about it, because experience taught us that anybody who talked about it in any way was very quickly found because the Gestapo sniffed out every rumor very consistently that spread about Auschwitz.


Q. Mr. witness, what would you say if someone visited a plant in Auschwitz twice or three times a year for a period of one or two days? Would he then have to gain knowledge about these things?

A. I repeatedly witnessed guided tours of civilians and also of commissions of the Red Cross and other parties within the camp, and I was able to ascertain that the camp leadership arranged it masterfully to conduct these guided tours in such a way that the people being guided around did not see anything about inhuman treatment. The main camp was shown only and in this main camp there were so-called show blocks, particularly block 13, that were especially prepared for such guided tours and that were equipped like a normal soldier's barracks with beds that had sheets on them, and well-functioning washrooms.


Q. Mr. witness, did you personally ever witness the gassing of human beings?

A. Yes, I saw one gassing at one time.


Q. Mr. witness, you testified a little earlier that those who were sick in the camps, like in concentration camp Monowitz, would be sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, but I wasn't quite clear as to why they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I'd like to put just a question or two to you on that. Mr. witness, those people who were in the hospital at Monowitz and were shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau because of an edema or phlegmon, for what purpose were they shipped to Birkenau?

A. As far as these people were Jews, I must state that most of them were gassed.

Q. And, Mr. witness, if they were sent from the hospital in Monowitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and they were Jews; and they were sent because of weakness and collapse, why were they sent to Birkenau?

A. Also to be gassed.

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