Excerpts from the testimony in the Trial of Martin Gottfried Weiss and Thirty Nine Others, Microfilm M1175, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The following is the testimony of Dr. Wilhelm Witteler at the first Dachau trial. Dr. Witteler was convicted and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Q: Isn't it a fact that here in Dachau you had a room where you
had a collection of human skin of all persons who had committed
A: No, I had no room where I had skin or healthy organs. Naturally, I had a room where I had pathological organs which you have in each hospital. They are taken out and set up in that room for that purpose. In order to teach medical knowledge to students.
Q: And in that room you also had human skin, did you not?
A: No, I don't know anything about human skin and I don't keep
human skin unless I was concerned with cancerous human skin.
Q: Now, doctor, isn't it a fact that during your time here the
skin was taken off the prisoners and tanned and used as hand bags?
Q: Isn't it also a fact that during that time you had on your
desk the skull of a prisoner?
A: Yes, I had a skull on my desk. And I had this skull brought from the pathological station and it had already been prepared. I had that brought to my office so that each doctor had the opportunity to look at it.
Q: It was a shrunken head, was it not?
A: It was a skull, a bone can't be shrunken.
In the following testimony at the first Dachau trial, Dr. Witteler claims that he was forced to sign a confession:
A: During my interrogation I had to sit in front of the desk of Lt. Guth. A spotlight was turned on me which stood on the desk. Lt. Guth stood behind the spotlight and the interrogation started. "We know you, we have the necessary records about you..." I started to make an explanation. I was immediately stopped. I was yelled at. He called me a swine, criminal, liar, murderer, and that is the way the interrogation continued. I couldn't give any explanations. I was only told to answer "yes" or "no"... I was interrupted immediately and told that all I had to do was answer "yes" and "no". I couldn't even explain it. I was told to shut up and to answer "yes" or "no"... since it was not like he thought it was, I had to get up and stand. So I stood up until 1:30 in the morning - seven hours.
Q: ... at the conclusion of the drafting of this statement you signed it?
A: No, I answered that it is not correct... this statement was not written in my presence. It was written in another room. The reporter was with me in the room all the time, but the statement was written in another room. After I couldn't stand up any more this statement was put in front of me at 1:30. And then when I said that this testimony... is not by me, that is the testimony of Dr. Blaha -- who was present for several hours that night... so that I didn't want to sign it. Lt. Guth said he would interrogate me until tomorrow morning, that he had other methods...
Q: How many people were present at the time you were interrogated?
A: Altogether, three: Lt. Guth, Dr. Leiss, and I, and, for a short time, Dr. Blaha.
Q: This writing in your own handwriting. Was that dictated or did you make it up?
A: When I found that the interrogation would end that way, I wrote down this last part and signed my name to it.
Q: Was it your own words or was it dictated to you?
A: Lt. Guth dictated those words...
Q: Prior to the time that you signed that statement, have you been served with any papers in this particular case?
A: No, I didn't know why I was in Dachau. I had no idea I was one of the accused. After the interrogation at 1:30 I was sent to the colonel and the colonel then read the charge to me. The first time I heard I was supposed to be a murderer, was then.
Q: You mean Col. Denson read the charges to you?
The following testimony was given by Christof Ludwig Knoll, a Communist prisoner who was a Kapo at Dachau. He was convicted, sentenced to death and executed.
Q: The witness Kaltenbacher (also a Communist) said that at Christmas you bragged that you had killed ninety seven Jews, and you needed only three more, I forget the number it was, to get extra food from the commandant?...
A: ... I was kapo, head kapo... there were many moles in that plantation. The detail at the time was very great - 14, 15 or 18 hundred prisoners. They caught those, skinned them, and baked them. The Hauptsturmbahnführer saw that and asked where the furs are. He gave me the orders to collect them and he would have a fur jacket made for his wife out of them. He needed at least 100-150. I had them stored at the construction site, and the gypsy brought dyes and things and had the hides prepared. I could not deliver the required number, because in the year 1939 the entire camp was evacuated. Besides, I myself did not catch any moles... now and again I received some mole skins and delivered the same to Zill...he said, "Knoll, how is it going?" I told them I still had to kill thirteen until I had the first hundred. I had that aloud and as clear as I am saying it in court today. The listeners didn't know what it was about. After that they talked about what I could kill. Naturally the question came: only Jews!
In the same moment the word was born that I was a killer of Jews. There was no talk of a Jew... I would have had to kill more than one Jew every day and I still would have not reached the named number of 87...
The following testimony is from Johann Kick, the head of the political department at Dachau. Kick was convicted, sentenced to death and executed.
Q: ... will you describe to the court the treatment that you received prior to your first interrogation anyplace?
(Prosecution objection as to whether beating received on the 6th of May could be relevant to confession signed on the 5th of November).
Q: ... Kick, did the treatment you received immediately following your arrest have any influence whatever on the statements that you made on the 5th of November?
A: ... The treatment at that time influenced this testimony to that extent, that I did not dare to refuse to sign, in spite of the fact that it did not contain the testimony which I gave.
Q: Now, Kick, for the court, will you describe the treatment which you received immediately following your arrest?
A: I ask to refuse to answer this question here in public.
President: The court desires to have the defendant answer the question.
A: I was here in Dachau from the 6th to the 15th of May, under arrest; during this time I was beaten all during the day and night... kicked... I had to stand to attention for hours; I had to kneel down on sharp objects or square objects; I had to stand under the lamp for hours and look into the light, at which time I was also beaten and kicked; as a result of this treatment my arm was paralyzed for about 8 to 10 weeks; only beginning with my transfer to Augsberg, this treatment stopped.
Q: What were you beaten with?
A: With all kinds of objects.
Q: Describe them, please.
A: With whips, with lashing whips, with rifle butts, pistol butts, and pistol barrels, and with hands and fists.
Q: And that continued daily over a period of what time?
A: From the morning of the 7th of May until the morning of the 15th of May.
Q: Kick, why did you hesitate to give that testimony?
A: If the court hadn't decided I should talk about it, I wouldn't have said anything about it today.
Q: Would you describe the people who administered these beatings to you?
A: I can only say that they were persons who were wearing the United States uniform and I can't describe them any better.
Q: And as a result of those beatings when Lt. Guth called you in, what was your frame of mind?
A: I had to presume that if I were to refuse to sign I would be subjected to a similar treatment.
The following is the testimony of prosecution witness Col. Chavez, regarding the accusations of torture by the accused:
Q: Kick testified that he was beaten daily from the 7th of May until the 15th of May... did you have occasion to examine Kick?
Q: ... did you have occasion to observe his physical condition?
A: I did.
Q: Did he have any black eyes?
A: He did not.
Q: Did he show any evidence of violence having been used upon him?
A: He did not.
Q: Was any one or both of his arms paralysed?
A: Not that I observed. He was just as natural as he is now. In fact, he looked better at that time than he does now. I observed nothing. He was very cooperative, and the record will so indicate. He was sworn and he gave his testimony in a very gently manner.
Q: Did he at any time state to you, Colonel, that he had been beaten or in any manner mistreated?
A: He did not.
Q: ... how often did you see him?
A: Just during the time that he was interrogated.
Q: ... of course he was fully clothed?
Q: But there is no question about it - at the time you talked with him he was quite cooperative?
A: He was...
The following testimony was given by Alfred Kramer. Kramer was sentenced to death and executed.
Q: Kramer, were you interrogated after your arrest anywhere except Dachau?
A: Yes, in Fürstenfeldbruck.
Q: Did that interrogation have any effect on the statement that you made here?
Prosecution: I object to that question as being immaterial and irrelevant.
President: Explain exactly what happened.
Q: Will you explain exactly what happened at that interrogation?
A: I do not want to talk about it.
Q: The court desires you to explain what happened.
A: I was beaten by an interrogation officer. Several prisoners were also present. I was supposed to tell how many people I shot or hanged. I can say with a conscience that I never killed a person. Thereupon, I was beaten over the head with sticks and rubber hoses until I broke down.
Q: Anything else to say about that?
A: No ...
The following testimony was given by Albin Gretsch, a guard on a transport of prisoners sent to Dachau. Gretsch was convicted and sentenced to 10 years at hard labor.
Q: Gretsch, is this statement in your handwriting?
A: No, that isn't my handwriting.
Q: What part of this paper is in your handwriting?
A: This is my handwriting here.
Q: And what is this? What part of the paper is this?
A: That is, "I have made the above statements without compulsion, and I have read and corrected it and understand it fully. I swear before God that it is the pure truth."
Q: That is the oath, is it not?
A: Yes, that is the oath.
Q: And is the oath the only part of this statement that is in your handwriting?
Q: ... Gretsch, you signed each page... did you not?
A: Yes, I signed it on the bottom, but I didn't read it. It was in a hurry...
Q: ...Were you told to sign your name to each sheet of paper?
The following is from the testimony of LT. LAURENCE, a witness for the prosecution:
Q: Did you have occasion to examine Albin Gretsch?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: ... and did he complain of any mis-statements?...
A: Not at all, sir... they are mostly his own words, sir. And I may add, sir, that I wasn't in a hurry at all. He took many hours and as he was rather slow in answering, I gave him all the time he wanted...
Q: The statement, with the exception of the oath, is in your handwriting, is it not, Lt. Laurence?