US. vs. Hans Altfuldisch, et al
Quoted in Christian Bernadac's book "The 186 Steps," is the following testimony of SS officer Hans Michael Altfuldisch, shown in the photo above, who was one of the 61 men accused in the Mauthausen case:
For the rapid extermination of prisoners, a gas chamber was available. I can remember having directed the execution by gas of two hundred fifty men and women, of Russian, Czech and Hungarian nationalities. Executions by gas were ordered by Ziereis or Zoller or Zutter, and in the case of certain sick prisoners, by Doctor Wolter, the chief doctor. The prisoners were first examined by S.S. Niedermayer, who removed their personal belongings. Then men and women were required to undress in the presence of the S.S. and enter the gas chamber. To make the work more rational, a cross was marked on the chest of those who had gold dental work.
Another SS officer, who was one of staff members of Mauthausen that were prosecuted at Dachau, was SS Oberscharführer Andreas Trumm, who is shown in the photo above. His testimony, as quoted in Bernadac's book is as follows:
Between 1943 and 1945, on several occasions I replaced the S.S. Niedermayer and conducted Russians, Poles and citizens of other nationalities to the gas chamber. After the prisoners had been locked into the chamber, the pharmacist E. Wasicky, gave a gas container to S.S. Roth. After the Spring of 1944, I saw the same operation handled by the pharmacist Gerber.
One of the defense attorneys in the Mauthausen case, Lt. McMahon, stated the following regarding these confessions:
Regarding the statements of the accused, there is grave doubt that they were freely given and, further, that they contained any language except that desired by the interrogator. Abundant proof is given by the striking similarity of language.
After citing several examples of similar language, Lt. McMahon went on to say:
And so it goes with Drabek, Entress, Feigl, with Trauner, Niedermayer, Haeger, Miessner, Riegler, Zoller, with Blei, with Eckert, with Striegel, with Eigruber, with Eisenhoefer, with Mack and Riegler. Let the court note the unbelievable accusations that the affiants make against themselves. It is contrary to normal human conduct. People just don't talk that way about themselves. Beyond any doubt, threats and duress were used to induce the signing of the untruthful statements in evidence.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Ernst Oeding, argued the following:
It is worth noting that the military rank of these sixty-one people is very low. To say that men of this rank established the policy for hundreds of thousands of people is beyond the realm of reasonable thinking.
All of the concentration camps were controlled by a central office in Oranienburg, which had to approve of all punishments and executions. A pharmacist or a doctor in a camp did not have the authority to kill prisoners in a gas chamber, nor by any other means. In the Buchenwald case, which was the next trial to be held at Dachau, one of the witnesses was SS officer Konrad Morgan who had conducted investigations into the unauthorized killing of prisoners. The Commandant of Buchenwald, Karl Otto Koch, was tried, convicted and executed by a special Nazi court for the unauthorized murder of two Buchenwald prisoners.
One might ask why Konrad Morgen never investigated the Mauthausen camp. According to Christian Bernadac, in his book entitled "The 186 Steps," Morgan did pay a visit to Mauthausen, but was prevented from doing an investigation by Commandant Frank Ziereis. In his testimony, as a defense witness at Dachau and at the Nuremberg IMT, Morgen did not list Mauthausen as one of the camps that he had visited.
This page was last updated on January 20, 2007