Source: Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United Nations War Crimes Commission, Volume II, London, HMSO, 1947

CASE No. 10.

THE BELSEN TRIAL

TRIAL OF JOSEF KRAMER AND
44 OTHERS

BRITISH MILITARY COURT, LUNEBURG,
17
TH
SEPTEMBER-17TH NOVEMBER, 1945

Part VIII

Foreword  Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII  Part IX Part X  Part XI Part XII

The Closing of the Case for the Defence (Contd.)

Major Winwood's Closing Speech on Behalf of Kramer, Dr. Klein, Weingartner and Kraft

Major Munro's Closing Speech on Behalf of Hoessler, Bormann, Volkenrath and Ehlert

Major Cranfield's Closing Address on Behalf of Klippel, Grese, Lobauer and Lothe

p.78

2. Major Winwood’s Closing Speech on Behalf of Kramer, Dr. Klein, Weingartner and Kraft

Major Winwood did not dispute the fact that Kramer, Klein and Weingartner were for certain periods members of the staff at both camps and therefore, to a certain degree, responsible for their administration. The degree of their responsibility should be considered according to the period during which they were at the camps and the positions which they held. He would, however, invite the Court to say that Kraft was never at Auschwitz, that he spent three days in the Wehrmacht barracks at Bergen, and that he was never a member of the staff of Belsen concentration camp. Any remarks that he would make with regard to the conditions and responsibility at Auschwitz or Belsen should therefore be considered as confined to Kramer, Klein and Weingartner.

He drew a distinction between Auschwitz and Belsen. At Auschwitz thousands of people were killed in the gas chamber ; at Belsen thousands of people died.

Counsel submitted that orders regarding the gassing of victims at Auschwitz came, not from Kramer as Kommandant of Birkenau but from the Kommandant of Auschwitz No. 1. There was a political department at Auschwitz No. 1 which was responsible for the incoming transports and there was evidence that a member of this department used always to be present at the selections of the incoming transports. The political department was the organisation responsible within the camp Auschwitz, under the Camp Kommandant of Auschwitz, for bringing internees into the camp and for their ultimate disposal. Over this disposal, Kramer had no authority, and his real position should be compared with that of a Commanding Officer of a transit camp, whose responsibility was confined to the administration of the people inside the camp until a posting order was received. Reference was made to the evidence of Kramer, Dr. Klein, Dr. Bendel and Hoessler in this connection. (Footnote: See pp. 20, 36, 39, 41 and 42)

p.79

On behalf of Klein, Counsel pleaded superior orders. The accused had admitted that, acting on orders by his superior officer, he made the selections of the incoming transports. He further said that he never protested against people being sent to the gas chamber, although he had never agreed with it. One could not protest when in the Army. The order which he was given and which he carried out, was in itself lawful, namely to divide prisoners into those fit for work and those unfit for work. If he had refused to make the selections himself other doctors would have done it. A British soldier could refuse to obey an order and he would face a Court Martial when he had an opportunity of contesting the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the order which he had been given. Dr. Klein had no such protection.

The names of many doctors had been mentioned in connection with experiments but nowhere had the name of Dr. Klein been mentioned, and he himself had said that he had no direct knowledge of such experiments. Klein had said that the actual selecting was done exclusively by the doctors. Kramer admitted that he often, in the course of duty, stopped and watched the selections, and he denied categorically that he himself made the selections, and he also denied that on behalf of his S.S. staff.

As to the extent of Kramer’s responsibility, Counsel said the quarter-master side of the administration of Birkenau was carried out by Auschwitz I. The issue of food, clothing and everything else was the responsibility of the Kommandant of Auschwitz No. 1. What could be laid at the door of Kramer was what actually happened inside Birkenau from the point of view of the administration of that camp. The evidence of Grese, Borman and Weingartner  (Footnote 1: See p. 42.)  showed that beating was done without his authority and without his knowledge. Counsel invited the Court to consider the many difficulties that arose in the course of roll-calls and the people who had to cope with them, and to accept Kramer’s word against the uncorroborated allegations contained in Rosenthal’s affidavit  (Footnote 2: See p. 33.) Counsel denied that the accused was at Auschwitz at the time alleged by Glinowieski. (Footnote 3: See p. 15.)

 Regarding the allegation of Glinowieski against Weingartner,  (Footnote 4: See p. 15.)  Counsel said that there was evidence that Glinowieski’s brother had committed twice in quick succession a very serious offence against camp orders, namely being in possession of unauthorised articles. There was a reasonable doubt that it was Weingartner who was responsible for the beating ; the witness had not actually seen it happen.

Counsel asked the Court to remember, when considering Sunschein’s allegations, (Footnote 5: See p. 16.)  the difficulties which Weingartner would have to contend with while having to supervise 1,000 women.

The evidence of Hermann, Klippel and of Kraft himself  (Footnote 6: See pp, 42 and 49)  indicated that the last was never at Auschwitz.

As to Kramer’s responsibility for conditions at Belsen, Counsel maintained that the Court had had placed before it sufficient evidence to have a picture of Belsen during the period of December, 1944, until the liberation, when the order which Kramer established changed into disorder, and when disorder 

p.80

changed into chaos. Belsen, in itself, was an example of what was happening to Germany as a whole country. More and more people were sent to the camp and Kramer was inadequately provided with medical facilities. Even when he closed the camp in order to avoid further sick people from contracting typhus, which existed in the camp, he was ordered to keep it open. On the 1st March, he realised that nothing was going to be done, and so he wrote a dispatch to his superior officer, Glucks, telling him what the present position was at the date and prophesying a catastrophe. Volkenrath’s evidence supported Kramer’s claim to have written this letter. (Footnote 1: See p. 37) Counsel submitted that if blame could be attached to anybody in these chaotic months before V.E. day, it should be laid at the feet of the men at Oranienburg who left Kramer in the lurch.

If the evidence regarding food shortage was analysed it would be clear that the witnesses were nearly all speaking about the period from about the last week in March to the date of the liberation. At the beginning of April, food was scarce in Germany as a whole ; transport had broken down and chaos had started. The numbers entering Belsen were meanwhile ever increasing ; Muller issued the food to the cooks who cooked it and issued it to the internees, and once it left the cookhouse it became the responsibility of people other than the S.S. to distribute it, as Francioh, Bialek and Szafran had shown. (Footnote 2: See pp. 13, 24 and 50.)

The Court had heard that when Kramer came to Belsen the roll-calls began. Roll-calls were a part of concentration camp life and it was the only way of being able to make out a strength return for rations, and the return which had to go to Oranienburg, especially when transports were coming in at the rate at which they were coming in. Counsel pointed out the evidence of Grese, Ehlert, Synger, Kopper and Polanski which showed that roll-calls were not unreasonably frequent or oppressively administered (Footnote 3: See pp. 19,45,47,65 and 66)

Regarding beatings, Counsel claimed that certain force was necessary to restrain the internees, particularly when the shortage of food came.

He suggested that the story of Bimko and Hammermasch (Footnote 4: See pp.11 and 14) with regard to the kicking of the four Russians and the possible death of one was a pure invention thought out by these two witnesses for the sole purpose of exercising revenge on Kramer, their former Kommandant. It was also for this reason that these two witnesses accused him of taking an active part in the selections at Auschwitz.

Klein was a locum at Belsen for ten days in January and when he returned he was under Horstmann’s orders. He was not the senior doctor. He had said that Dr. Horstmann specifically allocated to him the task of looking after the S.S. troops and S.S. personnel and that it was only three days before the British came that Dr. Klein did become the chief medical officer and the only medical officer at Belsen concentration camp.

The beating alleged by Sunschein against Weingartner  (Footnote 5: See p.16) was in the circumstances reasonable and Counsel suggested that the extent of the beating and the injuries caused were grossly exaggerated by the witness.

p.81

Against the evidence of Sompolinski (Footnote 1: See p. 21.) Counsel submitted that there was overriding evidence that Kraft did not arrive at Belsen until the night of the 11th-12th April. The accused Klippel had said that he met him at the aerodrome on the night of the l0th-11th April. The accused Schmitz had said that, because of typhus, the ordinary S.S. men could not go from Camp No. 2 to Camp No. 1. Apart from Sompolinski there was no evidence that Kraft ever set foot in No. 1 Camp.

Another Defence Counsel would deal with the question of concerted action and all that Major Winwood wished to say was that there could not have been any concerted action in the chaos of Belsen.

3. Major Munro’s Closing Speech on Behalf of Hoessler, Bormann, Volkenrath and Ehlert

Major Munro began by submitting that it was not the task of the Court to judge the policy of the extermination or persecution of the Jews. The Court had to judge people called upon compulsorily by their government to undertake the execution of its policies, just as he and the members of the Court had been called upon by their Government under the emergency powers granted to it by Parliament. When there was a conflict between Municipal and International Law, a man was not presumed to know International Law and apply it in defiance of his own law.

Counsel submitted that, while hearsay evidence was admissible before the Court, when hearsay evidence appeared in an affidavit it ought to be discounted altogether. .

The witnesses who claimed to have seen Hoessler taking part in selections might have seen him sorting out people on parade, for what they would not realise at the time were quite different purposes. Witnesses, because they knew that there had been gas chamber selections, jumped to the conclusion that if people were picked out on parade and never seen again that they were sent to the gas chamber. It was clear that on these parades people were also selected for working parties and that those thus selected were sometimes sent away from the camp to work somewhere else and were never seen again. There were also selections of those suffering from scabies. There was positive evidence that the persons did not know what a parade was for. A panic or stampede would be the inevitable reaction if they had such knowledge, and there was no satisfactory or convincing evidence that any scenes of this kind did occur.

Counsel submitted that Hoessler’s reply to Sunschein’s allegation (Footnote 2: See pp. 17 and 42.) was a reasonable explanation. Counsel pointed out that the witness Helene Klein did not say that it was Hoessler who selected her. Did the Court believe that if the circumstances had been as described by this witness, and Hoessler had actually taken the attitude described, this girl would and could possibly have escaped so easily ? Or that if she had done so she would not have been recaptured again very quickly ?

There was evidence before the Court that Hoessler did everything he could, not only to save as many people as possible from death, but also to improve the conditions in the camp and the lot of the prisoners.

p.82

Some weeks elapsed between the revolt in the crematorium (Footnote 1: See p. 43.) and the executions alleged to have been ordered by Hoessler. It was impossible to tell from the evidence whether the women executed were given a trial or not. It could not be assumed that during that long period there was no trial, in the absence of Prosecution evidence. The accused was in exactly the same position as a public hangman and he could not be held liable for carrying out what the Court could not say was not a lawful sentence of death.

Counsel’s comment on Adelaide de Yong’s affidavit (Footnote 2: See p. 25.) was that Hoessler was not the Kommandant of the camp. The Kommandant of the camp was either Kramer or his predecessor, or more likely Bauer, the Kommandant of Auschwitz No. 1. How could the accused have given such orders ? The deponent had been confused on the matter of the identity of the camp Kommandant. Regarding Hauptmann’s allegation (Footnote 3: See p. 27.) Counsel said that it was usual in all courts of criminal law, when somebody was charged with murder, to prove that the alleged victim was in fact dead.

Borman had suggested that witnesses had confused her with a certain Kuck. This confusion over identity did not arise only from a suggestion made by the accused herself ; for instance some witnesses said that she had a black dog and some said it was a brown dog.

The accounts of Wolgruch and Szafran (Footnote 4: See pp. 13 and 22.) of the incident of April, 1943, at Auschwitz were suspiciously alike and if the latter was arrested on May 9th, 1943, as she said, then the attack which she alleged must have taken place before she was arrested. Why, further, was the incident not mentioned in the witness’s original affidavit, in which she was recorded to have recognised the accused ? The Court was entitled to wonder whether this girl’s evidence was not the result of a conversation between her and Wolgruch. In any case the accused insisted that she did not arrive in Birkenau until the 15th May, 1943, a month later. The learned Prosecutor had not cross-examined her on this date, and it would seem therefore that her evidence must stand.

Bormann admitted that she did keep discipline by hitting with her hands. The Prosecution witnesses admitted this was sometimes necessary. Counsel made the general observation that the English word " beat " could have rather a different meaning from that of the German word " schlagen " which could signify anything from a single blow up to a beating. The English word " beating " involved repeated blows and severe blows.

In relation to alleged selections by Bormann, Counsel’s argument was the same as that for Hoessler, namely that she must have been seen on some parade or other sorting people out and sending them away and that the deponents made a mistake. Did the affidavit of Malachovska  (Footnote 5: Seep. 30) prove anything beyond the fact that the selection involved was not a gas chamber selection ? There were no doctors present. Only 50 girls were taken out of a party of 150 and they were sent outside the camp. It was perfectly obvious that they were being transferred from one Kommando to another.

Borman admitted that she was on gas chamber parades a few times but only to keep order, and she took no selecting part. As with Hoessler, there was no satisfactory proof that she did any selecting. Counsel also applied 

p.83

to her the defence of acting under coercion in so far as she was present on parade at all.

It was true that technically Ehlert was at Auschwitz, in so far as she was at a sub-camp called Raisko. The only connection which that camp had with Auschwitz was that it was administered from the Headquarters at Auschwitz No. 1, and it had no connection whatsoever with Birkenau, with which that Court had been largely concerned. It would further appear from the evidence that she had no connection with the gas chamber, and no evidence had been produced against her in respect of Auschwitz. .

If Herkowitz (Footnote 1: See p. 27) was beaten, in Counsel’s submission she was beaten in the political department with which the accused had nothing to do. The first part of Loffler’s affidavit (Footnote 2: See p. 30) could not be accepted, since it did not specify what part the accused took in the alleged offence.

Counsel concluded by examining the question of " concerted action " in relation to Regulation 8 of the Royal Warrant. First of all, what was " concerted action " ? The dictionary meaning of " concerted " was " planned together," " contrived " or " mutually arranged " and he submitted that the word could have no other meaning than its " normal, common-sense dictionary meaning."

Where was the evidence in this case of any such " planning ", " contriving " and " arranging " ? There was none. Could it be said, for instance, that it was mutually arranged and planned to send all these millions to the gas chamber, or that Hoessler, Borman, Volkenrath and Ehlert planned and contrived in Belsen to bring about a course of deliberate and homicidal starvation ? If the court were satisfied there was no such evidence, the accused could not be held responsible for anything other than what they had been proved to have done themselves.

It seemed that each of his four accused were entitled to a favourable verdict, but if the Court found them guilty, it was Counsel’s submission that they could " only then be held collectively responsible for other acts of a similar type and nothing higher ". If they were found guilty of having beaten people they could not be collectively responsible for having shot people.

Evidence of collective responsibility would only be prima facie evidence, and could be rebutted. In answer, the Prosecution would then have to show what the accused could have done and failed to do to prevent the use of the gas chamber or the starving of prisoners at Belsen.

4. Major Cranfield’s Closing Address on Behalf of Klippel, Grese, Lobauer ’ and Lothe

Directing the Court’s attention to the parts of the Charge Sheet which alleged the killing of Allied Nationals, Major Cranfield asked why there were included in this charge the names of specific Allied Nationals, and why it was not sufficient to charge the accused with causing the death of Allied Nationals whose names were unknown. He suggested that the answer was that, unless the killing of a specifically named person was included, the charge would be a bad one on grounds of vagueness and generality. Counsel

p.84

proceeded to examine the names of the persons alleged in the Belsen charge to have died in that camp, reminding the Court that his accused were charged with being together concerned in causing their deaths.

He submitted that the evidence proved that Meyer was shot by a man not before the Court. The evidence proved that Anna Kis was killed deliberately by a man not before the Court. She was a Hungarian and, in his submission, if she was a Hungarian she could not be an Allied National. It was a matter of which the Court must take judicial notice that a state of war existed between the United Kingdom and Hungary, which had not been terminated by a peace treaty. Some reference had been made to an armistice. Counsel argued however that there was an armistice with Italy, but it could not be suggested that an Italian was an Allied National. It was, he thought, agreed that the names of Kohn, Glinovjechy and Konatkevicz had been wrongly included in the Belsen charge.

Referring to the death certificates relating to the remaining seven victims Counsel said that in each case the cause of death was stated to be death from natural causes. The dates of death were given, and the dates when these persons were alleged to have died were in a number of cases dates before his accused came to Belsen. One of the seven, Klee, was said by the Prosecution to be a British subject from Honduras, but Counsel for the Defence called for further proof of her nationality since the death certificate stated that she was born at Schwerin in Germany. The evidence that these seven persons were ever in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was extremely flimsy. It seemed that he had now struck out of the Belsen charge all the specific persons whose deaths his accused were alleged to have caused, and the charge now read : " Allied Nationals unknown," which was, as he had already submitted, insufficient.

The affidavit of Anna Jakubowice said of Klippell: " I have seen him frequently beat women ". She arrived at Belsen on the 1st January, and the British arrived on the 15th April. Counsel’s submission was that the allegation of frequent beating must relate to the whole period from 1st January to the 15th April. Again, the alleged shootings were said to have taken place during March, 1945. A number of witnesses supported Klippel when he said that from the 1st January to the 5th April, so far from being at Bergen-Belsen, he was over one hundred miles away in Mittelbau. Counsel denied that Klippel was part of Hoessler’s unit, or of Kramer’s staff.

The evidence of Diament against Grese (Footnote 1: See p. 25.) regarding the latter’s responsibility for selecting victims for the gas chamber was vague. Regarding Lobowitz’s allegation against Grese (Footnote 2: See p. 29) Counsel asked whether, however conscientious the accused was, it was not absolute nonsense to suggest that roll-calls went on from six to eight hours each day ? He also threw doubt on the credibility of Neiger’s wards. (Footnote 3: See p. 31.)

Apart from the question of the truth of Trieger’s evidence (Footnote 4: See p. 35.) Counsel pointed out that the victim of the alleged shooting by Grese was a Hungarian and not an Allied National.

p.85

As against Triszinska’s allegation concerning Grese’s dog, (Footnote 1: See p. 35.) the Court had heard the accused deny that she ever had a dog, and that has been corroborated by others of the accused and by other witnesses from Auschwitz.

Regarding Kopper’s story of the punishment Kommando, (Footnote 2: See p. 37.) Counsel referred to Grese’s evidence that she was in charge of the punishment Kommando for two days only, and in charge of the Strassenbaukommando, which was a type of punishment Kommando, for two weeks. The allegation of Kopper in her affidavit was that she was in charge of the punishment Kommando in Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944, but in the box she said that the accused was in charge of the punishment company working outside the camp for seven months. In the box she failed to reconcile those two statements. Was it probable that Grese would be in charge, the only Overseer, of a Kommando 800 strong, with an S.S. man, Herschel, to assist her ? If 30 prisoners were killed each day, should there not have been some corroboration of this story ?

Counsel asked the Court to disbelieve Szafran’s story about the shooting of the two girls, (Footnote 3: See p. 13.) in view of Hoessler’s statement that the windows of the block in question were fixed windows. The story was told neither in Szafran’s affidavit nor even during her examination ; she produced it on re-examination.

Commenting on the allegation of Ilona Stein, (Footnote 4: See p. 14.) Counsel asked whether the Court believed, in view of the evidence, that an Overseer had any power to give an order to an S.S. guard ? He pointed out that the witness, in her affidavit, said : " I did not hear the order ". He doubted also whether Grese could have beaten anyone with a belt as flimsy as that worn by an Overseer at Auschwitz, one of which was produced as an exhibit.

Eleven witnesses had recognised Grese in Court. Of these eleven five made no allegation of any kind against her. This fact threw doubt on the evidence of those witnesses who said that she was notorious, a ferocious savage and the worst S.S. woman.

Regarding Jasinska’s allegation that Lobauer helped in selections, Counsel asked how did she help ? It was quite impossible for Lobauer to defend herself against the allegation of such a vague sort. Counsel doubted whether many of the offences alleged against this accused were sufficiently serious to be war crimes. Of the accusation made by Borenstein (Footnote 5: See p. 24.)  Counsel said that cutting up a blanket was an offence against the camp regulations ; Lobauer had said that if she found her doing that she very likely would have beaten her with her hands, which was all that was alleged against her.

Turning to the evidence of Gryka, Rozenwayg (Footnote 6: See pp. 16 and 23 for their evidence in Court.) and Watinik (Footnote 7: See p. 36) against Lothe, Counsel said that the Court would remember the circumstances in which their affidavits came to be made. He had found these circumstances from Gryka and Rozenwayg in cross-examination, and the accused Lothe had also told the Court her account. Over a month after the liberation of the Belsen camp Lothe was one of the very few Germans left in Belsen. One

p.86

day she was walking through the camp when she was accosted by the three deponents, who started to shout at her, saying she was a kapo at Auschwitz, and to abuse her. They then told a British soldier that the accused was a kapo at Auschwitz, and thereupon the soldier took the entire party off to the War Crimes office. Counsel’s submission was that the intention to accuse Lothe did not arise in the minds of these three deponents till they found themselves in the War Crimes office where they made up their story together. 

The witnesses against Lothe were all young, and mostly uneducated. Further, the Court should consider what the mental condition of an internee at Belsen was after the liberation. The evidence given by a large number of Prosecution witnesses was embroidered and exaggerated. Counsel quoted a number of examples of evidence which had proved to be much less damning on cross-examination than it had seemed at first. For example, Dr. Bimko had talked about beatings, which later turned out to be a box on the ear. 

Turning to a general discussion of the documentary evidence before the Court, Counsel said that a large amount of documentary hearsay evidence and opinion had been admitted by the operation of the Royal Warrant, and that it was for the Court to decide what weight should be afforded to that evidence. He drew attention to a passage in the Chapter on Evidence on page 70 of the Manual of Military Law which ran as follows : " The answer to the question why particular statements, verbal or written, should be excluded from evidence in judicial inquiries is that their exclusion has been found by practical experience useful on various grounds, and notably on the following :-

1.  It assists the jury

2. It secures fair play to the accused

3. It protects absent persons

4. It prevents waste of time

" It assists the jury by concentrating their attention on the questions immediately before them, and preventing them from being distracted or bewildered by facts which either have no bearing on the questions before them, or have so remote a bearing on those questions as to be practically useless as guides to the truth, and from being misled by statements or documents, the effect of which, through the prejudice which they excite, is out of all proportion to their true weight. It secures fair play to the accused because he comes to the trial prepared to meet a specific charge, and ought not to be suddenly confronted by statements which he had no reason to expect would be made against him. It protects absent persons against statements affecting their characters. And, lastly, it prevents the infinite waste of time which would ensue if the discussion of a question of fact in a court were allowed to branch out into all the subjects with which that fact is more or less remotely connected."

In Counsel’s submission the Court should be slow to consider the secondary evidence which was rendered admissible by the Royal Warrant, and should only take that into account where there were special reasons for so doing.

Beyond any doubt in a Crown prosecution the case presented against an accused carried with it a certain amount of authority, because non-military.

p.87

cases were first investigated by the Director of Public Prosecution and cases before a court martial were investigated by the commanding officer. In the present trial Counsel asked the Court to proceed on the assumption that no proper preliminary investigation had been carried out.

Counsel then suggested that the accounts of incidents which had been put forward by Prosecution witnesses were very probably a confused telescoping together of experiences undergone by them during the whole of their time in concentration camps. When accusations had to be made at Belsen there were only a limited number of S.S. personnel to accuse. A large number had gone away, and when these witnesses, having suffered so much, were given the opportunity of accusing somebody, then the incident, probably telescoped, had to be pinned on to one of the people available in custody. When the photographs were shown around the camp, and evidence was asked for, there was a great temptation for these young ill-educated girls to make accusations. That seemed to Counsel a likely explanation of the quite obviously wrong identifications which had been made.

An affidavit should only be accepted by way of corroboration. An affidavit alone, providing that the accused went into the box on oath and denied it and appeared to be reliable, could not be taken as being of any weight. 

Turning to the question of the gas chamber parades, Counsel suggested that general knowledge among the people paraded of the purpose of the parade was out of the question, because there would have been a stampede, however many sentries there were. It could not have been easy to discover from the procedure adopted when a gas chamber parade was intended, because when choosing working parties, as Starotska said, sometimes only Jews were called out. On other occasions when the weak or ill people were selected it was for quarantine or special blocks in another camp ; sometimes the authorities took people with infectious or contagious diseases, such as scabies.

From the evidence it appeared that the usual ground for inferring that people had been gassed was that they disappeared. If they had been sent away to a factory, or to another camp, the same would have happened. Those who were chosen for the gas chamber could have had no idea what was in store for them. Otherwise it would have taken all day to get them to Block 25. Counsel suggested that, apart from being a cage for those intended for the gas chambers, it might well be that Block 25 was used as a staging block for any party that was to leave the camp after a selection. When a party had been chosen they would obviously have to be kept segregated until they were sent away. There were witnesses who spoke of people staying in Block 25 for days. (Footnote: Regarding Block 25, see pp. 11, 13, 16, 17, 23, 35, 64 and 110-1l) 

Block 25 was walled in and out of bounds to the Overseers ; and Erika Schopf said that she had never seen an Overseer at Block 25. Grese, Lobauer and Lothe, once a selection was over, would have nothing to do with the prisoners selected.

The ill-treatment at Auschwitz must be judged according to the general standard subsisting among the people in the camps. Account must be taken of the punishment meted out officially or semi-officially by the political party and, particularly in the case of Lobauer and Lothe, of the punishment which

p.88

they underwent themselves. Account must also be taken of the difficulties of the accused ; there were few people in authority compared with the mass of prisoners. Kramer and others said that beating prisoners in any degree was against the German Regulations. A distinction should be drawn very sharply between a deliberate, wanton and cruel flogging and a quick cut with a stick delivered because the prisoner had done something wrong. Any regulation against the latter would be a dead letter, and Counsel doubted whether the latter could be regarded as a war crime.

There are four killings alleged against Grese and one against Lobauer. All allegations were made by affidavit except one made against Grese which was produced as an afterthought in re-examination. None of these shootings were corroborated.

Counsel pointed out that the three women accused whom he was defending were only at Belsen a very short time ; they arrived together in the middle of March. The camp was in a chaotic condition ; disease was everywhere. Owing to the chaotic conditions of the camp there were very few working parties, and his three accused were all concerned with working parties. Counsel’s submission with regard to the question of their responsibility for the general conditions at Belsen was that what was going on at Belsen during March and April, 1945, was beyond anybody’s control. The camp was hopelessly and increasingly overcrowded. The whole district was rapidly becoming a battle area. Transport and communications must have been in absolute chaos, and to attempt to make local purchases of foodstuffs for the extra thousands who were coming into the camp and to attempt to get extra doctors to cope with the typhus was quite beyond Kramer or anybody else on the spot. The three accused were one Overseer aged 21, and two prisoner functionaries in the camp, and he invited the Court to accept the proposition that they were in no way responsible for conditions at Belsen. 

Towards April, 1945, various concentration camps were being approached by the Allied armies, from both the east and the west, and they had to be closed. The number of concentration camps grew less and less, until Belsen was almost the last. Not unnaturally, the limited number of concentration camp personnel converged on Belsen. There was no conspiracy on the part of Kramer and others to run Belsen on the same lines as Auschwitz. 

Regarding " concerted action " and the Royal Warrant, Counsel claimed that the Warrant could deal only with the admission of evidence, and it could not affect in any way the amount of proof which must be put forward by the Prosecution to establish a condonation among the accused.

Foreword  Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII  Part IX Part X  Part XI Part XII

Stuart.Stein@uwe.ac.uk
Last Updated 10/09/01 09:20:57
S D Stein
 
Faculty of Economics and Social Science