27 Feb. 46
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I hereby swear before God -- the Almighty -- that I will speak before the Tribunal nothing but the truth -- concealing nothing that is known to me -- so help me God, Amen.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Tell me, Witness, were you an internee of Oswieczim Camp?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: During what period of time were you in the camp of Oswieczim?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: From 7 October 1942 to January 1945.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you have any proof that you were an internee of this camp?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: I have the number which was tattooed on my arm, right here.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is what the Oswieczim inmates call the "visiting cards"?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: I noticed then a woman in the last month of pregnancy. It was obvious from her appearance. This woman, together with the others, had to walk 10 kilometers to the place of work and there she toiled the whole day, shovel in hands, digging trenches. She was already ill and she asked the German superintendent, a civilian, for permission to rest. He refused, laughed at her, and together with another SS man, started beating her. He scrutinized her work very strictly. Such was the situation of all the women who were pregnant. And only during the very last minutes were they permitted to stay away from work. The newborn children, if Jewish, were immediately put to death.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Pardon me, Witness, what do you mean by "were immediately put to death"? When was it?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: They were immediately taken away from their mother.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: When the transport arrived?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: No, I am speaking of the children who were born in the concentration camps. A few minutes after delivery the child was taken from the mother, who never saw it again. After a few days the mother had to return to work. In 1942 there were no special blocks in the camp for the children. At the beginning of 1943, when they started to tattoo the internees, the children born in the concentration camps were also branded. The number was tattooed on their legs.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Why on the leg?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: Because the child is very small and there was not enough room on their tiny arms for the number, which contained five digits. The children did not have special numbers but bore the same numbers as the grown-ups; that is to say, they were given serial numbers. The children were placed in a special block and after a few weeks, sometimes after a month, they were taken away from the camp.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Selection was made by the doctors?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: Not always by doctors; sometimes by SS men.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And doctors with them?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: Yes, sometimes, by doctors, too. During such a sorting, the youngest and the healthiest Jewish women in very small numbers entered the camp. Women carrying children in their arms or in carriages, or those who had larger children, were sent into the crematory together with their children. The children were separated from their parents in front of the crematory and were led separately into gas chambers.
At that time, when the greatest number of Jews were exterminated in the gas chambers, an order was issued that the children were to be thrown into the crematory ovens or the crematory ditches without previous asphyxiation with gas.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How should we understand that? Were they thrown into the ovens alive or were they killed by other means before they were burned?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: The children were thrown in alive. Their cries could be heard all over the camp. It is hard to say how many there were.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Nevertheless, there was some reason why this was done. Was it because the gas chambers were overworked?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: It is very difficult to answer this question. We don't know whether they wanted to economize on the gas or whether there was no room in the gas chambers.
I should also add that it is impossible to determine the number of these children -- like that of the Jews -- because they were driven directly to the crematory, were not registered, were not tattooed, and very often were not even counted. We, the internees, often tried to ascertain the number of people who perished in gas chambers; but our estimates of the number of children executed could only be based on the number of children's prams which were brought to the storerooms. Sometimes there were hundreds of these carriages, but sometimes they sent thousands.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: In one day?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: Not always the same. There were days when the gas chambers worked from early morning until late at night.
I should also like to tell you about the children -- and their number is large -- who were interned in concentration camps. At the beginning of 1943 Polish children from Zamoishevna arrived at the concentration camp with their parents. At the same time Russian children from territories occupied by the Germans began to arrive. The Jewish children were added to these. In smaller numbers, one could also meet Italian children in the concentration camp. The conditions were as difficult for the children as for adults; perhaps even more onerous. These children didn't receive any parcels because there was no one to send them. Red Cross packages never reached the internees. In 1944 a great number of Italian and French children arrived at the concentration camp. All these children suffered from skin diseases, lymphatic boils, and malnutrition; they were badly clad, often without shoes, and had no possibility of washing themselves.
During the Warsaw uprising captured children from Warsaw were brought to the concentration camp. The youngest of the children was a little 6-year-old boy. The children were quartered in special barracks. When the systematic deportation of internees from Birkenau to the interior of Germany commenced, these children were used for heavy labor. At the same time there arrived in the concentration camps the children of Hungarian Jews, who had to work together with the children who were brought after the Warsaw uprising. These children worked with two carts which they had tonpull themselves to transport coal, iron machines, wood for floors, and other heavy things from one camp to the other. They also labored at dismantling barracks during the liquidation of the camp. These children remained in the concentration camp until the very end. In January 1945 they were evacuated and had to march to Germany on foot under conditions as difficult as those of the front, under an SS guard, without food, covering about 30 kilometers a day.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: During this march the children died of exhaustion?
SHMAGLEVSKAYA: I wasn't in the group where there were children, as I managed to escape on the second day after this evacuation march.http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/02-27-46.asp