This is a free article from The Scotsman Digital Archive.
The Scotsman - Saturday, 22nd September 1945, page 5
BELSEN GUARDS WHO WERE AT AUSCHWITZ Identified by Polish Woman Doctor EXTERMINATION BY GAS
From ANTHONY MANN, "Daily Telegraph " and " The Scotsman "
Correspondent Luneburg, Friday.— Ada Bimko, a Jewish woman doctor from Poland, described fo the British Military Court here this morning how ' her father, mother, and six-year-old son had been gassed near Auschwitz concentration camp. They had been taken from her side at the gates and driven to a vast extermination plant, where gas was rained on the victims through shower nozzles. Later she related how she had visited the huge gas chamber and seen the place where her family had been killed. Victims had been hoodwinked into believing they were to have a bath by being issued with towels and tablets of soap. The doctor was giving evidence on the fifth day of the trial of Joseph Kramer, commandant of Belsen camp, and 44 Other prisoners charged with atrocities at two camps.
This afternoon the entire Court drove 40 miles from Luneburg to inspect the remains of Kramer ' s camp, burnt down by British troops as a precaution against the spread of infection . All the accused were also taken to Belsen in lorries. The inspection is officially stated to be regarded as a session of the Court. When the prosecution indicated this morning'that it was about to call Dr Ada Bimko, the defence asked that prisoners should be allowed to remove their identification numbers. Permission was granted.
ALL JEWS IN TOWN ARRESTED
Dr Bimko, a short, plump, dark-haired woman, was assisted to enter the witness-box by a young A.T.S. lance-covporal , who remained behind her after she took her seat. She said she wa's a Jewess from Poland and a doctor of medicine. All the Jews in her town had been arrested in one week. She had been sent to Auschwitz, together with 5000 other Jews. On arrival the women and children were loaded on trucks. An S.S. doctor directed the women and children to the right and laft at his will. Only 250 women and 250 men were allowed into the camp. She later found out that all the rest were gassed.
Witness sobbed quietly as she announced that her father, mother, brother, and her sixyear-old son had been .gassed in this way. She was present, working as a doctor in Auschwitz when victims were selected for the gas chambers. The defence objected to a question as to whether the only offence of the victims was that they were Polish Jews. The Court sustained the objection. The first great selection of Jews for the gas chambers was made one and a half months after her arrival, on the Jewish Day of Atonement in. 1944. The selection of both the sick and healthy was made by the camp doctor and by S.S. men and women. All the weak were selected for gassing, as well as those with defects in the arms and. hands. All the sick were paraded nude for selection. The witness gave the names of the camp doctors as Rode, Thilo. Klein, Koenig. and Mengeleef. She was invited to enter the well of the Court and try to identify the prisoners in the dock.
15 OF ACCUSED RECOGNISED
Flood-lighting over the dock was switched on, and the witness, accompanied by the A.T.S. lance-corporal and interpreter, walked up and down in front of the long dock, looking at the prisoners, who continued to sit impassively, Only Irma Greese betrayed, as usual, apparent impatience with .the whole proceedings. " She frowned. The witness then identified 15 of the accused, beginning with Kramer and Dr Klein. Irma Greese she identified as a work leader.
The prisoners in the second and third rows in the dock were then made to stand successively for easier identification. Karl Firazich was identified as a man who had shot a woman in Belsen just before the British arrived. Juana Borman was recognised as " a woman who used to walk about the camp with a big dog." At this point' the loud barking o£ a dog in the street outside the Court drowned part of the evidence.
Resuming the witness stand, the doctor said that the persons selected for the gas chambers at Auschwitz were sent naked to Block 2o, where they often waited without food or water for days for lorries to fetch them to execution. On one day, of 4124 sick Jewish women, 4000 were sent to the gas chambers. Klein took part in selecting these women. Kramer was commandant of one part of the camp at that time. All five chimneys of the crematorium were visible from the camp. Irma Greese was the woman who tooW ihe prisoners* roll-call.
THE GAS CHAMBER
Dr Bimko then described how she had once had an. opportunity of inspecting the gas chambers. The sick, wrapped in blankets, had been sent to the chambers for execution , and Fhe haci been instructed to collect the blankets two days later. " The house was a brick house," she said. " It was surrounded with trees, like camouflage. In the first room I met an S.S. officer named Josei Goldner, who was wearing the Red Cross insignia. He came from my town. The first room was a large room where the prisoners undressed on arrival. Hooks were provided. " A second large room, capable of holding many hundreds of people, lay beyond. It was fitted like a huge shower bath, with parallel rows of shower sprays in the ceiling. But it was ."noticeable that "there \vex*e i\o drains in the floor for water. When the prisoners arrived here they were given towels and soap, as if for a bath. "Along a narrow, dark passage ran rails with a small truck on which corpses were taken to the crematorium." Thick pipes carried the gas to the gas chamber. I saw the huge metal containers which,, I was told, contained gas."
The work in tlie chambers was carried out by Sonderkommandos: special squads of internees who, after some weeks, were themselves gassed.
One of them, a man named Gerzcke, had told ner that some of these men kept records of the deaths, but these records had been, destroyed. "I was told that *he records showed that the number of Jews destroyed in the gas chambers up to that time was about 4,000,000." At Auschwitz experiments were carried out on prisoners in Block 10 One woman on. whom experiments had been made returned to camp and tried to commit suicide. Witness had asked her why, and the- woman had replied: " They experimented on me with artificial insemination. My womanly honour has been physically incapacitated from bearing children." Dr Bimko then described how S.S. guards had rained blows on the prisoners, who were forced to stand for hours at the roll-call in snow and rain. Often a whole block of prisoners had been compelled to wait for hours on their knees with their arms in the air. If anyone was late for the roll-call, the whole camp was forced to stand rnany hours, and the culprit was beaten to the verge of death: One woman had been beaten to death in that manner. " I have seen a number of people with wounds on their hands and legs, but particularly on their heads, as the result of blows."
"BELSEN A SECOND AUSCHWITZ"
Dr Bimko said she arrived at Belsen from Auschwitz on November 23, 1944. The conditions were bad, but the internees were not then beaten, and there were no roll-calls. In the morning there was coffee or soup; at midday, half a pint of soup; and in the evening, bread or soup. This diet did not kill instantly, but ifc would result in death -after a period. After Kramer became the commandant, beatings and roll-calls started. "Belsen was becoming a second Auschwitz." On one occasion Kramer had kicked four Russians who, in a state of weakness, had been unable to work fast enough. The medical situation was " quite desperate." To treat 2200 hospital cases and 15,000 sick women for one week 300 aspirin tablets were issued, although just after the arrival of the British two storerooms filled with drugs and instruments were discovered in the camp that had never been issued. Just before the British troops arrived witness suddenly got all the drugs she needed.
The witness then identified one of the prisoners in the dock as a man who had shot a woman at Belsen a few days before the British arrived because she tried to pick up a tui-nip peeling in the cookhouse. Juana Borman, she stated, used her dog to guard working parties. She often set it on the prisoners. ' We noticed that many of those in working parties were bitten by dogs." Major Munro, cross-examining, for the defence, asked witness: "Were people selected at Auschwitz for purposes other than the gas chamber?"—Yes, sometimes women were selected to be sent into brothels.
ACCUSED RETURN TO BELSEN
In the afternoon, Josef Kramer and his 44 confederates returned in lorries to the blackened ruins of Belsen. There, walking two and two, headed by Kramer and Dr Fritz Klein handcuffed together, the accused shuffled their way for three miles round the desolate place. Before them walked the members of the British Court that is trying them. At their sides marched red-capped military police with tommy-guns and members of the A.T.S, Provost Corps. All around were charred ashes o£ burned huts, ¦ woods, and rags of clothing. At the beginning of the tour one of the prisoners, Ida Forster, complained that she had bad feet and could not walk. She was driven round in an ambulance. The British former interneeMr Harold le Druillenec, who gave evidence at the trial on Thursday, was one of those in the procession of inspection . At the barbed-wire gates near the graves oi the victims there is a large notice in German:— "This is the site of the infamous Belsen concentration camp, liberated by the British, April 15, 1945. " Ten thousand unburied dead were Jound here. Another 13,000 have since died—all victims of the German New Order in Europe, an example of Nazi culture." The Court will sit again to-morrow (Saturday) morning.