1963-65 Testimony of Officers at Auschwitz
A trial… of the chief SS officers who worked at the extermination camp of Auschwitz. Also known as the Auschwitz Trial, it took place from December 20, 1963, to August 20, 1965, the longest legal case in German records. Robert Karl Mulka and other SS defendants came mostly from middle-class families. Eight had a higher education. Most claimed that they were as innocent as their victims; “I only knew one mode of conduct; to carry out the orders of superiors without reservations” (Boger). “I had nothing to do with it” (Hoecker). “I believed in the Fuehrer. I wanted to serve my people” (Stark). “I naturally sought to save as many Jewish lives as possible” (Dr. Lucas). “No one died by my hand” (Hantl).
The testimony brought out such items as these:
- Barracks were horse stables with a capacity for 500 people, into which 1200 prisoners were crammed.
- Clerks worked night and day in shifts at seven typewriters making out death reports.
- The lockers of SS men contained a fortune in jewelry belonging to the victims.
- A main concern of the SS guards was that “new-born infants should have a prisoner number tattooed on their thighs immediately because the arm of an infant was too small.”
- Jewish prisoners in the yard of the crematories circled the doctor who was making selections for life or death, all eager to read the least wish on his face.
- Women and children on their knees cried: “Take pity, take pity on us!”
- No mother let her child go alone to the gas chambers. All mothers went with their children.
- Above the front gate through which new arrivals marched was written the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei”, or “Labor Liberates.”