On 30 September 1946 in Kraków, Regional Investigative Judge Jan Sehn, a member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, at the spoken request and in the presence of a member of that Commission, Deputy Prosecutor Edward Pęchalski, pursuant to and in accordance with Article 4 of the Decree of 10 November 1945 (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 51, item 293), in connection with Articles 254, 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, interviewed a former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Dr. Jan Grabczyński|
|Date and place of birth||21 May 1908, Tarnów|
|Parents’ names||Julian and Helena|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Smoleńsk Street 1|
I was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp from 15 December 1942 until 30 March 1944, as prisoner no. 83,864. At the end of March 1944, I was released from the prison and employed as a civilian (Ziwilarbeiter) at the disposal of a garrison doctor (Standortarzt), Dr. Wirths. On 6 August 1944, I escaped from the camp and hid until the Germans’ evacuation.
From the beginning of my stay in the camp, I worked as a physician in block 21. It was the surgical block, with an average of about a thousand patients. The block was divided into a part for clean patients (ground floor) and a part for patients suffering from purulent wounds (first floor). We were not allowed to place Jews in the first section. Germans, both clean and with purulent wounds, were placed in the clean section.
By October 1945, the number of beds was too small, so two patients had to lie in one bed which was about 90 cm wide. The conditions in the so-called Jewish Stubes were even worse: there was often only one bed for every three patients. The amount of medicines and dressings administered to the patients was absolutely insufficient. If our colleagues working in pharmacies had not unofficially provided us with medicines, we would have had them only for a small number of patients. The same applied to anesthetics and dressings. There were many drugs in the SS pharmacy, and they would have been enough for the prisoners if they had not been sent to the Reich. In my opinion, due to reduced immunity and protein deficiency caused by the camp diet, even minor purulent wounds turned into extensive phlegmons, which led to surgical conditions. The diet also caused the disappearance of adipose tissue, which in turn made patients vulnerable to the development of hernias, which also very often occurred in prisoners. Insufficient clothing and long working hours in the open air, regardless of the weather and temperature, caused unprecedented frostbite, which took very long to heal, as a result of which the patients suffering from this condition were subject to selections.
Until March 1943, all patients except for the Reichsdeutsche and the Volksdeutsche were subject to selections for gassing. From March 1943, the selections were carried out only among Jewish prisoners and less frequently than before. The selections were performed by a German camp doctor, who randomly, without any examination at all, chose people who looked bad and had been treated for over four weeks. When the number of selected patients was relatively small, they were killed with a phenol injection; if the number was larger – in a gas chamber. I remember that during the first selection, 180 patients were chosen from the block. The sick, who were transported to the crematorium within one or two days after the selection, were removed from the hospital statistics over the following days in groups of several dozens, until all the people killed were crossed off the list of patients. Causes of death provided in the camp hospital files were fictitious. I know this from my own observations. For example, a prisoner named Calan, who came from Sandomierz and had arrived at Auschwitz with the same transport as I had, was selected for gassing and was killed in a gas chamber, but his family was notified that his cause of death was the weakening of the myocardium. I am mentioning only this example, but I know lots of them.
Due to the absolute lack of protection and carelessness of workers, the number of unfortunate accidents at work and complicated fractures was very high. The surgical block did not have a sufficient number of staples, wires or splints, which are used for treating such conditions in modern surgery. The lack of those auxiliary resources extended the treatment, as a result of which the patients were at risk of being selected for gassing. It should also be mentioned that in the first years of the camp’s existence, under the command of Höß, the hospital really lacked professional medical personnel and auxiliary staff. It was the fault of the camp authorities because there were plenty of doctors and auxiliary personnel in the camp among the prisoners, but not all of them were assigned to work in the hospital, despite their professional education. Instead, they had to perform other ordinary activities that they often were not familiar with at all. This lack of doctors in the hospital also contributed a lot to the mortality of patients, because medical procedures were often performed by non- professionals, who instead of helping the patients, made them sicker. For example, a certain Pańszczyk from Kraków, who had nothing to do with the medical profession, was a nurse in the hospital in block 20, and he performed surgical procedures there. I saw two of them with my own eyes: in one, due to an incision of a forearm phlegmon, the upper limb was paralyzed (the nerves were cut).
Until October 1945, mortality was very high. I am not able to provide the number, but it amounted to six percent of the patients treated (based on monthly calculations). A German camp doctor also sterilized prisoners in that block. [The procedures took place] as a result of verdicts by a German court or the camp authorities. I remember the name of a German prisoner – Johann Meu – who was sterilized as a punishment for pederasty.
I know that a professor from the Königsberg University – Clauberg – performed some tests on female genital organs in block 10. The tests consisted in injecting substances, which were unknown to me, into the uterine cavity, X-ray controls and subsequent histological examination of the collected samples from the female genital tract. The tissue samples were collected by opening the abdominal cavity. Dr. Wirths, the younger brother of the Auschwitz garrison doctor, also performed similar experiments in that block. I know that the party sent Clauberg to Silesia with the aim of increasing the fertility of the German population in that area. He was also the head of the hospitals in Katowice and Królewska Huta. Block 10 in Auschwitz was his experimental station. German SS doctors did not care at all about the health of the patients. Sometimes they operated on patients and a few days after the surgery they sent them to the gas chambers during the next selection, without even showing the slightest interest in the result of the surgery. It is not surprising that in such conditions the patients very often left the hospital sooner than they should have, because not only was their illness not treated, but they were also in danger of being sent to the gas chambers.
The report was read out. At this point, the interview and the present report were concluded.