Presiding Judge: The Court calls the next witness, Feliks Włodawski.
I advise the witness to speak the truth in accordance with Article 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Making false declarations is punishable with a prison term of up to five years. Do the parties wish to submit any requests regarding the mode of hearing of the witness?
Prosecution: We exempt the witness from taking the oath.
Defense: We do, too.
Witness: Feliks Włodawski, 48 years old, merchant, Roman Catholic, no relationship to the defendants.
Presiding Judge: Which defendants does the witness recognize? Please provide specific data regarding their behavior.
Witness: I recognize defendants Plagge, Aumeier, Grabner, Bogusch, Schumacher, and Josten.
Presiding Judge: What can the witness say about defendant Schumacher?
Witness: Defendant Schumacher was the deputy to the food warehouse manager. He hated Poles and during the Allied air raids, Schumacher became enraged especially with the Polish people, blaming them for the air raids we were experiencing. Schumacher never entered the food warehouse without a stick. I know him as a person who not only abused the prisoners, but also reported them to be sent to the penal company, and the penal company was worse than death. As the deputy to the warehouse manager, Schumacher knew everything that happened in the warehouse. All packages – maybe not all, but 90 percent of them – coming from the International Red Cross were addressed to Birkenau, marked with numbers of households. We did not know those houses, we knew numbered blocks. We unpacked those packages and each of them contained, on average, four or five tins of sardines. What happened with those sardines? Every week or even twice a week, they were distributed among the SS officers. The number of those packages increased and the supplies were stored in the warehouse. Then, Schumacher transported them to the SS kitchen. When I later asked my colleagues who worked in the SS kitchen what had happened with those sardines, they told me that they had been used as a bonus for firing squads.
I know that we received supplies of milk for the family camp in Birkenau. There were the Gypsy and the Jewish camps, and the milk was for children. We received not only milk, but also butter. It was stored in our warehouse. It never reached its destination. What happened with that butter? In the warehouse, I worked as a personal cook of the SS men and I was forced to use those products to make desserts, because I am a confectioner by profession. I was forced , to the best of my ability to make different kinds of cakes, using that butter. Those cakes were delivered by Schembeck, who is not present here today, to all high-ranking SS officials. I was also forced to make ice cream, using condensed milk. I was reluctant to do that, because I knew that the milk was for children in the family camp, so Schembeck slapped me in the face. I remember it was in 1944. That is all as far as the food warehouse is concerned.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions?
Prosecutor Brandys: Does the witness know if defendant Schumacher beat the prisoners who tried to steal barrels with leftovers?
Witness: I know that barrels were put by the kitchen to be cleaned. Starving prisoners, or rather Russian prisoners of war, gathered around those barrels and tried to scrape something out with their fingers. Schumacher once saw such a group of about six people and beat them badly. I, as a regular prisoner, plucked up the courage and asked defendant Schumacher why he was beating them so terribly. He answered that I should not care for them, because they were not people and they would never leave the camp.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions?
Presiding Judge: Does the witness want to say anything else?
Witness: Yes, in relation to defendant Plagge.
Presiding Judge: Did he ever beat the witness?
Witness: Yes, he did. I met defendant Plagge in 1940, when he murdered people during the so-called exercises.
Presiding Judge: In what circumstances did he beat the witness?
Witness: In 1940, defendant Plagge hit me so hard in the face that I lost two teeth. It happened during penal exercises, when we were doing the so-called frogs. We had to keep the hands on the neck and jump in a squatting position. Since I am quite tall, I was unable to perform that exercise for too long. I saw Plagge with my own eyes throw a prisoner who had lost consciousness to the pond (in 1940, there was a pond in the camp). Every day after the exercises, which lasted whole day, the prisoners would pull a few corpses out of that pond. In 1941, when I worked in the kitchen, I saw prisoners behind the wire digging foundations for a huge bath. Those prisoners were from the penal company. Defendant Plagge and his kapo walked among them – with sticks in their hands – and did the so-called prisoner hunts. They picked a prisoner and hit him in the neck so that he fell on the ground. I saw with my own eyes that defendant Plagge loaded the unconscious prisoner into a wheelbarrow and threw him into a hole, over four meters deep, where they extracted gravel.
At this point, I would like to mention defendant Grabner, who saw the scene and just left as if nothing had happened.
I would also testify in relation to defendant Aumeier. I know that in the summer of 1940, when defendant Aumeier was going to block 11 – I do not know if it was Palitzsch or his deputy who was with him, but the person was carrying a small-caliber gun – he noticed a little boy who was answering the call of nature. Aumeier called him over in German. The boy did not understand him, so he came to them. Aumeier and his companion took him to block 11. After the roll call we tried to find out what happened to that boy. We saw him shot dead in block 28.
Presiding Judge: Who executed him?
Witness: I do not know that.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions regarding this part of witness’ testimony?
Witness: When it comes to defendant Grabner, I saw him very often. I do not know if I can call him like this, but I would describe Grabner not only as a murderer, but also as an ordinary robber or a thief.
Presiding Judge: The witness is not allowed to speak like this.
Witness: I know that in 1941 the building of the Political Department burnt down. I know it from some SS men who came to the kitchen and asked me for food, and I tried to find out some things from them. I would like to mention here certain prisoners, such as Chlebowski, Kuryłowicz and others, who would always say that a healthy prisoner should constantly have his eyes and ears open in order to see and hear everything that happened in the camp and be able to testify against the SS men later in time.
Coming back to Grabner. the SS men told me that it was Grabner who set the building of the Political Department on fire.
Presiding Judge: The Tribunal is already aware of that fact.
Witness: Does it mean that I cannot testify any longer?
Presiding Judge: Will the witness please say something about Josten?
Witness: Your Honor, I would like to talk now about Bogusch.
Presiding Judge: As the witness wishes.
Witness: When I was in block 21 – it was the surgical block – Colonel Bończa was lying in the bed next to mine. We stayed there more or less for four to six weeks, and he was released a week before me. We met afterwards and Bończa said the following words to me, “I’m finished, Włodarski”. I asked him, “Why, Colonel?” and he told me that he had been summoned to the Blockführerstube [guardhouse], where Bogusch – who had been an officer in the Polish Army and was of Polish descent – gave him away. Bończa told me that I should avoid him and warn my friends against him. I did not know Bogusch, so one day I met with Bończa near the kitchen and he showed me this man. Bogusch often worked in the Blockführerstube, and he always received reports on prisoners from block 24. I do not know how much time had passed from that moment, but the late Colonel Bończa was taken to block 11 and executed by firing squad. It was in the autumn of 1943.
Presiding Judge: What was Bogusch’s involvement in that case?
Witness: Bogusch gave Colonel Bończa away, revealing that he was a Polish officer. I would like to stress that in 1943 Polish officers and the intelligentsia were particularly persecuted. That is all as far as Bogusch is concerned.
Presiding Judge: And what about Josten?
Witness: I know that Josten was present during an event that happened in 1943, when he was the Feuerwache [fire watch] commandant and was in charge of the fire brigade. One day, I told my supervisor Schembeck that I would like to volunteer and go to the ramp. He let me do that, so I went. To my greatest surprise, I saw at the ramp a train with twenty or even more cars. A transport of Hungarian Jews had arrived. When the people were told that they were not allowed to take their luggage with them, they got anxious. They were told to leave the cars and at the same time the selection started. Some of them were being gathered on the right side, others on the left, men were separated from women and children…
Presiding Judge: Did Josten participate in that event?
Witness: Your Honor, please let me continue. When they started separating children from their fathers, there was a lot of noise and crying. Then Josten stepped out and shouted, “Silence, calm yourselves. You’ll see each other in two hours!”. And they did. Just like he had promised them, they saw each other in two hours, but on piles of burning corpses.
That is all.
Presiding Judge: Are there any questions?
Presiding Judge: Does defendant Bogusch want to ask a question or make a statement?
Defendant: A question.
Presiding Judge: What question?
Defendant Bogusch: I would like to declare that I have never been a Polish Army soldier, and I have never served in that army at all. I think it is all a misunderstanding, because I am not familiar with that case and I did not shoot the colonel.
Presiding Judge: The witness did not testify that the defendant had shot him.
Witness: I stand by what I have testified.
Presiding Judge: Thank you. The defendant may sit down. The witness is excused.