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VRBA's TESTIMONY: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ]


p. 1607


--- Upon resuming.

THE COURT: The jury, please.

--- The jury enters. 2:20 p.m.

--- The witness returns to the stand.

THE COURT: Go ahead, Mr Christie.

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you, Your Honour. What I'd like to do is place before the witness the ground plan of Birkenau as presented in 1944, and ground plan as presented in the book, "Eye Witness: Auschwitz".

THE COURT: They are exhibits. Are they lettered or numbered?

THE REGISTRAR: I think they are numbered, Your Honour.

THE COURT: What are the numbers?

THE REGISTRAR: Rough ground plan of Birkenau is 22, and that of Auschwitz to Birkenau is 23.

THE COURT: Thank you. Yes, go ahead.

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you very much, Your Honour. What I'd like to do is distrubute these to the jury and I think there were some already available.

MR GRIFFITHS: I believe Mr Christie already provided me with one.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: I now produce and show to you the ground plan of Auschwitz as you prepared it in 1944 which you have in your right hand, and I am holding the ground plan as depicted by the book "Eye Witness: Auschwitz" on page 175 by Phillip Mueller. I am specifically asking you in respect to what is indicated as point nine on the Phillip Mueller ground plan, which I suggest to you is the sauna, or bath, as depicted there.

p. 1608

Would you agree?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it your evidence that that which you've described as the bath on your 1944 drawing is actually the number nine point on the Phillip Mueller diagram?

A. Well, this is hard to answer because of the following situation. If you look at the diagram on the lefthand side which, by the way, doesn't come from Phillip Mueller but Phillip Mueller reproduced it from some other documentation ....

Q. I realize that.

A. .... which is available from the Auschwitz Museum, I think, but my plan was prepared as I remembered it on the day of my escape, 7 June -- 7 April, 1944, and the date of this plan is obviously, when this plan was prepared, is obviously later I don't know how much later, and perhaps you will enlighten me from which date this plan comes but considerable changes have been made in the complex of crematoria after my escape.

Q. Well, I put it to you that there was only one bath in the far end of the camp, and that is number nine on the diagram on page 175, and that is the bath that you drew on your diagram in 1944, and no other bath was in that area ever at all.

A. In which area?

Q. In the area where you drew it in 1944.

A. Well, I drew a bath in the area of Krematoria III and IV, and I can see that the bath is drawn in the area of Krematoria III and IV on the other diagram too, only in the other diagram the bath seems to

p. 1609

be in relation to the two crematoria, a little bit displaced.

Q. Well, are you saying that that's not the location of the bath you meant, that there was some other bath in the area?

A. What I am saying is that between the time I left and the time that this new graph was made, there were -- they have twenty-seven new barracks in that area.

In other words, as I remeber this place, there was, if I would have judged, there was no place for twenty-seven new barracks.

Q. Well, those ---

A. And now I can see that they have made extensive building of twenty-seven new barracks, and it is possible that either they shifted the bath to a new place in the absence after my escape, or the position of my bath in my graph simply means a graphical indication that it is in the region of Krematorium III to IV, without claiming to be an engineering graph.

So my graph, which was drawn as a sort to say from memory by layman in architecture, gives general ideas of what was there, but doesn't claim to be an engineering piece. This, on the other hand, is an engineering piece and I find it possible that the bath in this new map has been rebuilt after they built those twenty-seven new barracks there.

Q. Those twenty-seven new barracks, I put it to you, were called Kanada and they were built on the 14th day of the 12th month, 1943, long before you escaped.

A. What is evidence of that?

p. 1610

THE COURT: No, no, just ---

MR CHRISTIE: I will put it to him in the form of the calendarium.

Q. The calendarium entry which is dated the 14th day of the 12th month, 1943 we went over this once before, and it says in Birkenau they finished within the Section BII the construction of the storage buildings which has been called by the inmates Kanada. In the storage buildings there have been thirty-five barracks. In thirty of them the belongings of Jews were stored and selected. In two barracks inmates did live which did care for the store. In the rest of the buildings the administration was located.

A. Well, the German text which you are showing me doesn't say exactly what you are saying.

Q. Tell me what it says.

A. So it is a little bit slightly distorted translation.

Q. What does it say?

A. That on 12th 14th or December, 1943, I suppose, they finished in Section II.

Q. Section BII.

A. BII, which is the Section BII, actually the building of a storing room for effects in which translated means property or ---

Q. You mean storage room?

A. Lager, a whole camp for that storage.

Q. More than one building, then?

A. More than one building.

Q. Which was called by the name of Kanada.

p. 1611

A. Actually twenty-seven buildings which was called by the inmates Kanada. In other words, this is a new Kanada, because the old Kanada was ---

Q. We are just translating this. Right?

A. Yes. Effectenlager, in this storage building, there were thirty-five barracks. On this plan I see only twenty-seven.

Q. You counted them, did you?

A. Yes.

Q. Carry on with your translation. You are translating the document.

A. I can't be certain. I am checking the document.

Q. Fine. Just translate the document.

THE COURT: Yes. One at a time, please.

THE WITNESS: In Barrack 30, in number 30 was sorted the property of those Jews who were brought for annihilation into the camp, and stored there; into other barracks of this camp there lived prisoners who were employed in the Kommando effectenlager, this means the working Kommando of this storage camp, and in the rest of the buildings there was administration and other things.

Q. So that indicates that that area was built by the 14th of December 1943.

A. Well, if I may add to it, to my recollection ---

Q. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Is there any other translation there?

A. No. No.

p. 1612

Q. All right. Well, that does seem to indicate that on the 12th of December, 1943, those barracks that you described as not being there when you escaped on the 7th of April, 1944, were built. Right?

A. So it would appear, but I cannot confirm it, because when I came to the ---

Q. Can I take this away now?

A. Yes.

Q. Thanks.

A. I cannot confirm it because I had a relatively free access to the two crematoria, to the place between the two crematoria, but that something was being built behind the crematoria I took notice, but I had no idea what it was. My information was not good enough to say what it was, and it was behind -- it wasn't visible from where I had access to see.

Q. It wasn't visible to where you had access? In fact, it was right across the street from what you describe as Krematorium ---

A. No, not at all, because I could come to the crematoria and I could see that they are hammering something behind the crematorium, but there was a wall put up, a wooden wall like when you have a building.

Q. You are saying that the crematorium that you entered here.

A. Yes.

Q. And what looks like an alleyway; and you couldn't see whether they were built or not?

A. No, because when you build something, as you can see even in Toronto, when you build something you make around a what is the English word -- you surround

p. 1613

it with -- what is the word? Who would help me to translate the word? You surround it with a fence. Fence is the word. And then ---

Q. Barbed wire fence?

A. Not barbed wire fence; normal fence like when you are building something. And so I could see that they are hammering something behind the barbed wire fence that I didn't pay particular notion to it.

Q. It was a fence that blocked your view?

A. It blocked my view, yes, and I didn't know what was being built there.

Q. Now, the reason I asked you this question in the first place is that in your plan where the bathhouse is located, there is no road to it, and on the plan that there is, you described it as from the Museum, there is a road into it, and I put it to you that the roads were there when you escaped in 1944.

A. Those roads into ---

Q. --- the bathrooms.

A. Into the crematoria.

Q. The bathhouse located in Item 9 in the schematic diagram that I gave you.

A. In the schematic diagram I see a road that goes between two crematoria, and then goes left to the bathhouse. And ---

Q. And in your diagram there is no road to the bath at all.

A. I have quite clearly shown that here is a road, but I did not indicate the opening and I would say that that is how a layman would paint.

p. 1614

Q. Well, I suggest to you that your diagram in 1944 doesn't indicate any access to the bath at all because you didn't know where the bath was, and the bath itself was inaccessible to anybody. Now, which is it?

A. It simply means that my objective was to indicate to potential Allied bombers what is where, and I have forgotten to put into this plan, plan made by amateur, the particular entrance to this particular place; and if you will take notice and look at this graph you will see that I haven't shown what is an entrance to BIIA, either. Just have a look at it and you will see that I haven't shown the entrance to BIIB and I didn't show what is the entrance to Camp B.

Q. I am not interested ---

A. I am just telling you what is on the graph.

Q. Well, I am not asking you to describe what is on the graph ---

A. I haven't, on this graph, indicated the doors, but only the position where is where.

Q. Thank you for your comment, but my suggestion to you that when the bath was built it was built of brick, it was built where number nine was indicated, it was never moved and, in fact, the roads that are indicated on the plan, which is in detail on No. 175, has the roads indicated very clearly on it because those were the roads to the bath ---

A. No. This were roads were built after my escape, much has been built; and what new roads have been built, this is a different question.

Q. I suggest to you they are not new

p. 1615

roads built after you escaped. They had to be there when you escaped because they were roads to the bath which you indicated was there at the time, sir.

A. But as far as I can see, comparing your graph with my graph, then the bath on my graph and the bath on this graph is in a distance, when I look at the measures, not more than twenty yards difference.

Q. That's right. That's fine.

A. And I agree with you that painting from memory and without having a yardstick, as I can imagine that I made an error of twenty yards.

Q. I am not criticizing you for an error of twenty yards or twenty meters, whatever. I am suggesting that the roads were there as they are depicted in the diagram No. 175, and that this is accurate.

A. That's right. It is accurate 1944 after my escape, whereas this diagram is approximation of a layman at the time of my escape.

Q. Well, I suggest to you you didn't draw any roads in there because you didn't give any thought to the possibility that the people going by those crematorium were going to the bath, as indicated on the roads on the map.

A. Well, I knew exactly who was going to the bath, because I was in that bath on a number of occasions, and actually, that is the reason why I was so frequently sort of skipping my duties from going from IIA to IID and going there, because I used that bath.

Q. Oh?

A. And in that bath -- I used that bath. I can give you a description what was inside perhaps

p. 1626

not exactly, but I can tell you what was inside.

Q. Could I suggest to you that inside there was a fumigation chamber for clothes? Would you agree to that?

A. A fumigation chamber for clothes was usually in every bath in Auschwitz.

Q. Yeah. And in that ---

A. I haven't seen that fumigation chamber.

Q. Well, why do you say that there was one in every bathhouse?

A. But I have seen one in other baths, that is in Auschwitz I and Auschwitz IB, and I believe you this time. That is logical.

Q. Well, you were there, and I say it was there, and you say you don't know it was there?

A. Yes, that is perfectly true, it was there.

Q. Is it a fact that you knew that in the fumigation chambers the doors were sealed, and Zyklon-B was used to fumigate the clothes and kill the vermin?

A. Zyklon-B was not only used for killing people, but was also used for disinfecting clothes. In fact, history shows that Zyklon-B was used before for gassing people. Zyklon-B was standard equipment in all concentration camp and army units for fumigating clothes, and in 1941 ---

Q. Please don't give us a history of Zyklon-B unless I ask you.

A. Please don't interrupt me, because

p. 1617

I am trying to make a point. You are trying to distort a point before I finish what I have to say.

In 1941 nine hundred prisoners of war came to the concentration camp of Auschwitz.

Q. When?

A. In 1941.

Q. You weren't there in 1941.

A. Would you please let me finish?

Q. Not unless it is something from personal knowledge. I don't want to know what you heard from other people in 1941 in Auschwitz.

THE COURT: Get on to the next question.

THE WITNESS: Very good.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: You agree with me that this was the front page that you say was attributed to your report?

A. Yes.

Q. I'd like to read it. Does it say that the figures concerning the size of Jewish convoys and the numbers of men and women admitted to the two camps cannot be taken as mathematically exact and, in fact, are declared by the author as being no more than reliable approximations?

A. Yes, it does say so.

Q. All right.

A. It does say so, so I do not know who wrote it.

Q. Well, the last time I asked you about it you said the President had something to do with it.

A. According to the history of

p. 1618

Reitlinger it was President Roosevelt who issued for circulation. This is from hearsay.

Q. Do you accept that statement as being correct?

A. This statement is correct in a way that I always said there is a reliable approximation in my figures, and he said that it is not mathematically exact, but reliable approximation. Mathematically exact means that I cannot say ---

THE COURT: No. Sorry.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: Have you ever read Mr Christopherson's book?

A. Never heard of it. Who is Mr Christopherson?

THE COURT: No. Next question.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: That's the author to whom is attributed the remarks on page 18 when you were asked about it. You said that was more lies.

THE COURT: What is the next question, Mr Christie?

MR CHRISTIE: I was just directing the witness ---

THE COURT: No. I know what you were doing. I want to hear your next question.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: Well, I am just wondering, in view of the fact that you have never read Mr Christophersen's work, would you agree that the words that are attributed to him there may have been said?

THE COURT: Don't answer the question. Ask him a question. Rephrase it so you don't quote somebody about whom the witness has said he knows nothing.

p. 1619

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you.

Q. Would you agree that you cannot say that anything attributed to him is necessarily accurately attributed?

THE COURT: Isn't that the same question?

MR CHRISTIE: I thought I was trying to rephrase it.

THE COURT: You rephrased it the same way. I thought you could rephrase it so it would not appear that you were phrasing it the same way. If you cannot, ask another question.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: The remarks on page 18, the third paragraph from the top on the lefthand side to which you were asked to comment ....

A. Page 18?

Q. Page 18.

A. Page 18 of what?

Q. Of Exhibit 1.

A. Page 18, yes.

Q. Starting with the second paragraph from the top on the lefthand side ....

A. Yes. That's the same paragraph we discussed in the morning. I can see.

Q. Yes. Now, you don't know anything about Mr Christopherson. We've established that.

A. No.

Q. Have we established that?

A. Not to my knowledge. I don't know anything about Mr Christophersen.

Q. So you can't comment on the truth

p. 1619 (a)

or falsity of that paragraph?

A. Of course I can comment, because I don't need Mr Christophersen to see that what was written there was a distortion of truth.

Q. Now, you say that was a distortion of truth, and I want to quote from what he writes in his book. He says:

"I was in Auschwitz from January 1944 until December 1944".

You don't say this is a distortion of the truth, do you?

THE COURT: Is this Mr Christopherson being in Auschwitz?


THE COURT: The witness already indicated he does not know anything about Christopherson.

MR CHRISTIE: Yes, but he did say this was a distortion of truth.

THE COURT: No, he did not. He said that what he read, what he is looking at on page 18 is a distortion.

Is that right or not right?

THE WITNESS: That's right.

THE COURT: All right. Now, phrase yourself properly and I won't have to interfere, Mr Christie.

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you, Your Honour. I will try.

What I am asking you to say is whether anything in the paragraph that is highlighted you consider to be false.

p. 1620

A. Yes. I explained it to you in the morning.

MR CHRISTIE: Now, Your Honour, for the record, the paragraph that's highlighted is those words attributed to Mr Christopherson. So I wanted to ask him something about that.

THE COURT: As long as you ask him what he is looking at.

THE WITNESS: There is nothing mentioned about Mr Christopherson.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: Well, then, we are not looking at the right paragraph. I am trying to direct your attention to the second paragraph from the top.

A. This paragraph?

Q. You are on the wrong page, sir. I said 18.

A. You said 17.

Q. 18. Right here.

A. So we went through this too. Christopherson's account was -- I think this was read to me by the Crown Attorney.

Q. Yes.

A. Yes. And this is the second paragraph printed in heavy letters.

Q. Right.

A. And here I see the name Christopherson.

Q. Yes. And do you say that the statement contained therein is false?

A. They are absurd.

Q. Well, which statement is absurd? Which one?

p. 1620 (a)

A. The absurdity of the sentences come out when you finish the sentence.

Q. "I was in Auschwitz from January 1944 until December 1944".

Period. End of sentence.

A. No, not period. Here is a comma.

Q. What?

A. Yes.

Q. Period or comma?

A. Yes, this is a period.

Q. Period, all right. I hope we are dealing with the same printed material. Now, that's a sentence. What is absurd about it?

A. Oh, this sentence, in itself, nothing.

Q. All right. So nothing is false ---

A. If it is true that he was there, which I don't know.

Q. All right:

"After the War I heard about the mass murders which were supposedly perpetrated by the S.S. against the Jewish prisoners, and I was perfectly astonished."

Now, is that absurd?

A. Absolutely absurd.

Q. Why?

A. Because anybody who was in Auschwitz for one year has seen the mass murders, in one way or another, and I suggest to you that Mr Christopherson was not there as a prisoner, but perhaps as an S.S. man. Is

p. 1621

it possible? Is it possible?

Q. Why do you need to ask me that question if you don't know Mr Christopherson? How do you know if he is lying or mistaken?

A. Because this is such a lie that only a Nazi can produce it, to cover up his crimes.

Q. Somebody you don't know, you are prepared to call a Nazi.

THE COURT: Just a moment. What's the next question?

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you.

Q. "Despite all the evidence of witnesses, all the newspaper reports and radio broadcasts I still do not believe today in these horrible deeds."

Now, you would say, I suppose, that that's absurd, too, would you?

A. Absolutely absurd. It's untrue.

Q. It may be that this person holds those beliefs honestly, though, don't you think?

A. No way. If he was in Auschwitz, he cannot hold such beliefs unless he was in the S.S., and he is an accomplished murderer and it is a characteristic thing of murderers that they deny generally their crimes, and this is what I assume.

Q. So any person you say who denies such knowledge of horrible deeds must be one of their accomplices; is that your evidence?

A. What I say is that Mr Christopherson, if he was, according to this paragraph, for one year in Auschwitz and he denies the murders, then I assume he was

p. 1622

there in a capacity of S.S. man and is a murderer who tries to cover up the traces of his crime.

Q. Oh, so every S.S. man who is there is a murderer.

A. Absolutely so, or an accomplice to murder.

Q. And he must know about the murder, then.

A. Absolutely so. There is no way out. From the outlay of Auschwitz and the way how Auschwitz was run, there is not one S.S. man who was there who didn't know about the murder, because otherwise they would send them to the front. They didn't keep them there for drinking tea.

Q. All right. So everyone who dares to suggest that there was no murder in their knowledge you would charge with murder as well?

A. If he was a year in Auschwitz and wore an S.S. uniform and says there wasn't a murder, I would claim that this is a murderer who denies his crime.

Q. So it would be dangerous to come forward as an S.S. man, because you would be one of those who would accuse him of murder immediately, wouldn't you?

A. Any S.S. man who did service in Auschwitz-Birkenau for a time like one year is a qualified murderer, and if such one is found on the territory of, for instance, United States of America without saying that he was there for one year in an S.S. uniform will be automatically deported from the country. I can assure you of that. I have heard it from the Office of Special Investigations who is looking for them.

p. 1623

Q. And you would make sure that that happened, wouldn't you?

A. I would always help the justice against the criminal. I happen to be on the same side of the law, and not on the side of criminal, and you shouldn't blame me for that.

Q. Well, you presumed that anyone who had seen Auschwitz for a year and had no knowledge of such murders must be, therefore, a criminal. Is that what you say?

MR GRIFFITHS: That is not what he said. He said three times, he said an S.S. man, Your Honour.

MR CHRISTIE: Oh, excuse me.

Q. Any S.S. man who was in Auschwitz for a year would be, in your opinion, a murderer or an accessory to murder?

THE COURT: No, you missed one point. In uniform.

MR CHRISTIE: In uniform.

THE WITNESS: That is quite right with one or two honourable exceptions which are well known.

Q. And he is quoted as saying:

"I have said this many times and in many places, but to no purpose. One is never believed."

A. That is right, but a murderer says in many places that he didn't do it and still nobody believes it if it is generally known that he has done it.

Q. And you, on the other hand, are saying that whoever has done this is a murderer, and I

p. 1624

suppose you are also saying he is a liar the man who is attributed with these remarks would be first an accessory to murder, and then a liar. Is that right?

THE COURT: Just a moment, gentlemen. Mr Christie, if you are going to be long on this point, I am going to excuse the jury so that an exchange can take place in their absence.

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you very much, Your Honour.

Q. He is further on quoted as saying that:

"During the whole of my time at Auschwitz, I never observed the slightest evidence of mass gassings. Moreover, the odour of burning flesh that is often said to have hung over the camp is a downright falsehood."

A. Which line is that?

Q. I am moving right along the paragraph to ---

A. Yes. "During the whole of my time at Auschwitz ...."

Q. Yes.

A. ".... I never observed ...." Yes.

Q. Christopherson is quoted further in that paragraph, and you don't deny that he may have said those things, do you?

A. I have got no evidence that he said it or not, because you didn't tell me who is Christopherson, in what capacity was Christopherson, and where does he live and I can interview him if he was there at all. It

p. 1625

might be a complete invention. There may be no Christopherson at all, but an anonymous pen pusher who invented the name Christopherson. You give me the information who was Christopherson and in what capacity he was there, and I will be able to deal with this problem.

Q. I am sure you would. You and many others would make sure he is charged with murder if he is an S.S., if he was in uniform and if he was there for a year. Correct?

THE COURT: Just a moment. Go to another question.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: Well, as far as anything in those paragraphs which were read to you, I suggest to you that although you disagree with what a person is alleged to have said, you did not say that he did not say those things.

A. I do not know if they said it, because I can only read that somebody printed it, but there is no evidence that somebody said it. It seems to me like an anonymous statement, because you are trying, or denying any knowledge of the existence of a real person, Christopherson.

Q I am not here to deny anything. I asked you if you had any knowledge that such a person did not exist, or any knowledge that they did not say that.

THE COURT: Gentlemen, it's becoming argumentative rather than the other way around.

MR CHRISTIE: Thank you, Your Honour. I will withdraw the question.

Q. Do you know about the lawyer, Dr Manfred Roeder, referred to in the top paragraph of that

p. 1626

page that you were asked to read?

MR CHRISTIE: This is page 18?

MR CHRISTIE: Yes, sir.


Q. It's a sentence that begins on the very last part of page 17. It says:

"In May 1973, not long after the appearance of this account, the veteran Jewish 'Nazi-hunter' Simon Wiesenthal wrote to the Frankfurt Chamber of Lawyers, demanding that the publisher and author of the Forward, Dr Roeder, a member of the Chamber, should be brought beofre its disciplinary commission."

Do you say that is false?

A. That he was brought -- I agree that such a character might have been brought before the disciplinary committee in free West Germany for good reasons. This is quite possible.

Q. So that could very well be true?

A. I don't know about it, but it might be true.

Q. You did say that this also was part of the general proceedings that you said was a cynical lie. Do you agree?

A. I said that the particular piece which Crown Prosecutor showed to me, Crown Attorney said to me was a cynical lie; but I didn't read this whole thing. The particular thing was an outright lie.

Q. I am suggesting to you that you

p. 1627

didn't even read the part that I am reading now.

A. No. I can convince you that I did. I assure you that I did.

Q. The next sentence:

"Sure enough, proceedings began in July, but not without harsh criticism even from the Press, who asked, 'Is Simon Wiesenthal the new Gauleiter of Germany?' (Deutsche Wochenzeitung, July 27, 1973)."

Now, is that a false statement?

A. I didn't read Deutsche Wochenzeitung. I don't know Dr Roeder. I never had the honour of meeting him. I don't know what he is doing. I understand that he was before a disciplinary commission, and I would tell you perhaps it's true, perhaps it's not. I don't know. I have no information about this event ---

Q. Thank you.

A. Which took place in 1973.

Q. Yes.

A. At that time I was ---

THE COURT: All right, Doctor.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: And you were in Maidanek Camp?

A. Maidanek Camp, yes.

Q. And you volunteered to go to Auschwitz from Maidanek?

A. In a way you can call it -- yes, I did volunteer, because Maidanek I found a place of death of such desolation that I couldn't imagine that there exists anything worse. And when they said that

p. 1628

four hundred strong men for a labour in the fields, I naturally volunteered because at that time I believe the Nazi tricks, and I saw that they were going to put me to agricultural work, so I could escape; but instead I found myself in Auschwitz. I made an error.

Q. Well, the simple answer is that you were in Maidanek; you volunteered to go to Auschwitz and you were taken to Auschwitz I where you were for four months, and then you went to Birkenau, and that you've told us about. Right?

A. So the truth is that I came to Auschwitz on 30 June, 1942, and stayed in Auschwitz I until 15th January, six and a half months, I would say, and for the rest of the time in Birkenau. That's true.

Q. All right. So did you ever see a gas chamber in Maidanek?

A. In Maidanek I saw a crematorium, and I had a good look at that crematorium because there were rumours in Maidanek that there is a gas chamber, and my grandfather, who was over seventy at that time, was taken to that building. So I studied that building.

Q. Excuse me. I just asked you if you saw a gas chamber.

A. You interrupted me again.

Q. I didn't ask you what the rumours were. I didn't ask you if you had a grandfather who went there. I just asked you if you saw a gas chamber in Maidanek.

A. No. I saw only a building which was called crematorium to which my grandfather was taken, and that was the last time I saw him. If there was a

p. 1629

gas chamber, I don't know.

THE COURT: All right. All right.

Q. MR CHRISTIE: So is it your evidence that you never saw a gas chamber?

A. In Maidanek?

Q. Anywhere.

A. Yes, I saw the gas chamber from inside in Auschwitz I.

Q. What made it look like a gas chamber?

A. The interesting thing is that it was just a garage converted into a gas chamber.

Q. Oh.

A. There was not written on the door that it was a gas chamber.

Q. Well, what made it a gas chamber?

A. Simply that there were no windows, and there were doors which could be hermetically closed.

Q. What's hermetically closed mean?

A. This means if you close them, there is not much air circulation.

Q. They are the double-door garage-type?

A. That's right.

Q. And they swung from the centre to the side.

A. Yes. And they were done with quite reasonably good job and precision for your information.

Q. This was the gas chamber, then?

A. Yes. In Auschwitz I, a relatively small gas chamber.

Q. So that's the gas chamber that you

p. 1630


A. That's right.

Q. You saw no other?

A. From inside.

Q. From inside or outside.

A. From outside I had been describing here a gas chamber that was visible from Krematorium I in front of my eyes, a distance of a few yards, which was coming out from the upper part of it, came out from the ground, and you were quarreling with me if it was four feet or six feet high.

Q. Well, wait, now. Yesterday you told us it was six and a half to seven feet. Is it shrinking now?

A. It is quite possible that along the gas chamber they have made a walk, and that the S.S. man perhaps had to reach high. I think that your idea that it is shrinking is simply a misplaced humour which hasn't got place here.

Q. Well, tell me, sir, how did you know it was a gas chamber?

A. Well, in the first line I would like to ask you, Mr Counsel ---

THE COURT: No. Don't ask Counsel anything.

THE WITNESS: I knew that it is a gas chamber because I saw people going into the crematoria. I saw that they are not coming out. I heard that they are being gassed there, and I have seen Zyklon gas being thrown into, on top of the gas chamber.

Q. Mm-hmmm.

p. 1631

A. And therefore I concluded that it is not a kitchen or a bakery, but a gas chamber.

Q. Yes. Were buildings ever fumigated with Zyklon-B?

A. Which buildings?

Q. Any buildings.

A. In Auschwitz?

Q. Yeah.

A. Occasionally, when there were too many lice, they were fumigated by Zyklon-B, and that is why Zyklon-B was originally brought in.

Q. Is this the gas chamber you went inside of?

MR CHRISTIE: I am showing the witness the 155th page of "K.L. Auschwitz". It's a book.

Q. Is that what you say was the gas chamber in Auschwitz?

A. I do not know at what time of the year, on which year this picture was taken. In 1942 October, when I was there, I do not remember seeing the lamps on top of the roof; otherwise it looks like a garage.

Q. Is that the room?

A. It can be, but from what I see to this picture, it could be any garage.

Q. All right. So there was nothing unique about this place that you called the gas chamber that would help you to identify it; is that right?

A. Well, there was not written "Gas Chamber", but there is nothing unique in any place where people are gassed. All we have to do is to close windows,

p. 1632

the ventilation, and throwing gas.

Q. I put it to you that you have told us that there was 1,765,000 corpses to be dealt with in these various crematoria you told us about.

A. That's right.

Q. I put it to you that if there were forty-six stoves, as you described in the War Refugee Board Report, and if there was one and a half hours required for each corpse, that working twenty-four hours a day you would require 4.38 years to cremate all those corpses. What do you say about that?

A. Would you please repeat me slowly all the data which you are having here?

Q. Well, I said if you have forty-six stoves or ovens as you described, nine times three .... (sic)

A. Yes.

Q. And 1,765,000 corpses ....

A. Yes.

Q. .... one and a half hours each ....

A. Yes.

Q. .... you would require, at twenty-four hours a day operation, 4.38 years to cremate all those bodies.

A. Well, there is already a little swindle introduced into that statement, because that statement was introduced by Dr Staglich, and it is in the hands of the Crown Attorney, and it is a distortion of the statement which I made in this report in which this Doctor statement, who was a neo-Nazi and was convicted in West Germany, has taken the liberty to distort mildly the contents of this report, because in

p. 1633

this report I never said that in one and a half hours a body was cremated, but I said that three bodies were cremated simultaneously in each oven, and that in process took approximately one hour. Consequently ---

Q. One hour and a half you said.

A. Let's go into the details. I may have said one or one and a half hours, but it was definitely three bodies. Furthermore, I haven't said how many openings were there exactly. There might have been much more ovens there than I wrote in my report. As I told you, my report, as far as the inside of the crematoria, was rather a provisory thing based on information which perhaps was not that exact and detailed.

Q. May I interrupt you with one other question?

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of fuel do you say they cremated these bodies with?

A. To my information coal was used in crematoria, and wood when it was outside the crematoria.

Q. I see.

A. But I haven't been invited to the stove, so it is hearsay.

Q. No. It is just these figures -- so I am asking you. So it's coal or wood?

A. That's hearsay, yes.

Q. Well, of course. So is the matter of whether they were gassed or not, isn't it?

THE COURT: Let's not have an answer to that. What's the next question?

Q. MR CHRISTIE: Did you see massive

p. 1634

trains of coal coming into the camp, too?

A. No.

Q. Did you see loads of wood coming into the camp?

A. I have seen loads of coal being transported into the crematoria.

Q. Well, did they come on the railroad?

A. No. They came on trucks and they came on individual trucks. This means when a transport came, that the transport would require forty or fifty trucks which were attracts my attention.

Q. I thought there were only ten trucks. Do you remember when you were unloading the people at the ramp? You said ten had to go and come back.

A. Yes. So by going and back, so I have seen a hundred trucks by the time they made the journey from the crematorium to the ramp. So there was heavy traffic. But apart from the heavy traffic which was connected with mass annihilation of the arrivals, there was also other type of traffic. There were travelling trucks which were bringing coal to the crematoriums. There were travelling trucks which were bringing bread to the camp. There were travelling trucks which were bringing bread nearby, and tea, and in other words, there was many thousands of prisoners and many thousands of S.S., and there was a certain traffic which I could control so exactly.

Q. Mm-hmmm. I see. Sure.

A. I didn't have every record of every single truck which went by.

p. 1635

Q. Since you did make some comments about Dr Staglich, you called him a neo-Nazi, I'd just like to ask you if you are prepared to make that judgment about that particular person, were you aware that he was once a judge and when he published his book he lost everything in terms of his judgeship and he also lost his right to be the holder of the University degree. Are you aware of that?

THE COURT: Before you answer that question, witness, please indicate in the shortest answer possible whether you were aware of any of these things.

THE WITNESS: I was aware of Dr Staglich, his connections ---

THE COURT: Just a moment. Were you aware of the things put to you by Counsel?

THE WITNESS: No, I was only aware that he was convicted by a West German Court for swindle and for publishing lies in order to incite national hatred, and this is against the West German law, and it was the account in the German newspaper Die Welte, which is a West German newspaper, and I have read an account that he was convicted and his book was forbidden as obscene, and forbidding the education of the German population and considered dangerous to the German population because of the demagogue which he was using.

THE COURT: All right.

THE WITNESS: This was an article in Die Welte.

THE COURT: All right. What is your next question?

MR CHRISTIE: No further questions.

p. 1636

THE COURT: Mr Griffiths, do you wish to re-examine now?


THE COURT: Go ahead.



Q. Just a couple of things, Doctor.

A. Yes, please.

Q. You told Mr Christie several times in discussing your book, "I Cannot Forgive" that you used poetic licence in writing that book. Have you used poetic licence in your testimony?

A. No. This is not a book. This is under oath.

Q. And Mr Christie asked you, I believe, put to you several places where you did not appear to testify. He asked you if you appeared at Nuremberg. He asked you if you testified at the Eichmann trial

A. Mm-hmmm.

Q. Have you ever testified about these matters at other trials?

A. I have not been in Nuremberg and I have not been present at Eichmann's trial, but I have been present several times at the so-called Auschwitz trial in 1944 (1964) in Frankfurt where the criminals and murderers from Auschwitz were arrested by the West German authorities and put to trial.

p. 1637

THE COURT: Did you testify there, Doctor?

THE WITNESS: I did. Furthermore, I testified at the trial of a certain Dr Krumey and Hunsche, also in Frankfurt. Krumey was accused of having murdered the children after they were deported ---

MR CHRISTIE: Are we going to get into this?

Q. MR GRIFFITHS: My question was whether you testified, and you have answered that.

A. This was after ---

Q. It's all right. It's all right. Other than the trials of the Auschwitz trials and in Frankfurt and the trials of the two doctors, again in West Germany, are there any other trials or proceedings dealing with these matters where you have testified in public before?

A. Yes. I testified furthermore in Vienna when they sent me to the High Court of Justice in British Columbia. There is a picture of a hundred people asking me to identify if I know anyone.

THE COURT: No. Doctor, please. Just answer the question.

Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Did you testify in Vienna?

A. I testified against S.S. Unterschaffuhrer and I testified in their trial for crimes.

Q. All right. Anybody else?

A. No. To my knowledge, no.

Q. Can you tell us, Doctor, briefly how you arrived at the number of 1.765 million?

p. 1638

MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, we went through this in-chief; I dealt with it in cross. It did not come first in cross.

MR GRIFFITHS: The figure did not, to my recollection, Your Honour -- it was not mentioned in-chief. It is obvious from -- could the jury be excused, Your Honour, please?

MR CHRISTIE: I will withdraw my objection.


Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Dr Vrba, could you tell us briefly how you arrived at your figure? You told us how you identified nationalities, and I wonder if you can tell us how you arrived at your account. Can you do that?

A. Yes.

Q. Please.

A. The first time when I was on the ramp, even before I went to the ramp, I had some idea about the numbers who are going to come, because the number of the people from the Kanada who were supposed to go to work, work on the ramp, depended on the number of arrivals which are coming.

Consequently we were woken up in the night. It was mainly night work. Mainly the transport came in the night not always. And an S.S. man came and said to the Kapo who was a German criminal, a green triangle, that we should go at once on the ramp, and told him the number of how many prisoners are coming in the cattle trucks in other words, how many deportees were coming. And on that ground the Kapo decided a fifty,

p. 1639

hundred, two hundred people should go to work on the ramp.

So I had a rough idea, and before I came to the ramp. Furthermore, the people -- when the wagons came, in a system which I explained here before, on opening of the wagons I could judge if this was a transport where they have put a hundred in per wagon or one of the better transport where they have put only sixty in in the wagon.

Furthermore, I could see a number of wagons that are counted, because I had to clean each one of them, going through the wagons so I could see exactly how many wagons arrive. So from this I could know the date of arrival, the number of people who arrived, and the number of people who were chosen to be marched into the camp in other words, roughly the percentage of people who were taken for slave labour. And I could make immediately my mind the picture how many are from that particular transport and from what nationality murdered.

Now, this information at the start represented only one figure, and the next day two figures, and the next day again two figures, or three figures, and I trained myself to remember those figures and developed a special mnemonical method for remembering each transport.

For instance, on the statistics, those transports are only numbers, but in reality they were not just numbers. The transports arrived either in the cold or in the hot. The transports either had a lot of dead or few dead. The transports came in a rich equipment, as for food, or poor equipment. During unloading of the transport it was raining or it was not raining. In other

p. 1640

words, I had a lot of coinciding circumstances, so that each transport for me was not a number but an event, a colourful event. And as the days went by I trained myself constantly and repeated in my mind constantly the statistics, and at the start, when I started, it was one page and then it was two pages that I had to remember, and then it was three pages I had to remember, and finally it was twenty pages I had to remember, and this was not at all very difficult with that mnemonical help to which I have myself trained. It is a general knowledge that people who are arrested write a poem of ten thousand stanzas over years, and are not allowed to write, and then they came out and faultlessly writes them down in two days. So this is a typical example Solzhenitsyn, without comparing myself to him; and this is not verses to memorize but people, transports, so it was not such a difficult task for me to memorize it. I was asked this question by the Chief Judge Hoffmann in Frankfurt, and I gave him, if you will allow me, another aspect of illustrating how human memory works.

Q. Well, I am going to stop.

A. Yes. There is an aspect to human memory which I can in addition to this explain, if necessary.

Q. Excuse me just a minute now. You have with you a report, the Vrba-Wetzler report.

A. Yes. I have here a copy which I received from the Office of Investigations, Criminal Division, Washington.

Q. There is something here I can put to you if I can find it about Himmler.

p. 1641

A. Yes.

Q. There is a reference to Himmler in here.

A. I will try to find it.

Q. We won't think out loud, but we will both look for it here.

A. Here is something on the 17th which is not about Himmler, but about something different. I can't find the reference to Himmler just now, but you might, perhaps, be able to.

THE COURT: Mr Griffiths, are there any other points you want to discuss with the witness? I intend to adjourn in about ten minutes. You might agree to find the Himmler reference, if you wish to, at that time during the recess.

MR GRIFFITHS: I thank you, Your Honour. In fact, it is the last point that I wish to review.

THE COURT: The Himmler matter?


THE COURT: In that case, we will adjourn now.

--- The jury retires. 3:20 p.m.

--- Short adjournment.

--- Upon resuming.

MR GRIFFITHS: Just before the jury is brought in, Your Honour, I will have no questions of Dr Vrba. It was a report written by somebody else that I was looking for. That is why I couldn't find it, and

p. 1642

I have another witness here. I am shifting gears. It is not a survivor but a professor who I intended to qualify as an expert in the field on the impact of material of social and racial tolerance in the community.

It is ten to four. He is here. He will obviously be available for tomorrow. I understand that you have a bail review at four fifteen.

THE COURT: Yes, there is another matter that I promised counsel I would hear their bail application at four thirty or four fifteen.

MR GRIFFITHS: My question is whether, in the absence of the jury, I should commence with Dr Kaufmann, the psychologist, today and try to get him qualified, or whether we should start fresh with that in the morning. I am in Your Honour's hands.

THE COURT: Mr Christie, do you have a preference?

MR CHRISTIE: No, sir, I don't really. Whatever is convenient to Your Honour, really.

THE COURT: Then I think that there might be a change of court staff, and I will be in at three-fifty or ten to four. If you have no further questions we will call in the jury. You can say that before the jury and we will then adjourn this case until tomorrow morning.

--- The court addresses members of the public in attendance in the courtroom concerning rules of order in the court.

THE COURT: Bring in the jury.

--- --- The jury returns. 3:52 p.m.

p. 1643

THE COURT: Mr Griffiths?

MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour. I found the reference, Your Honour, that I was going to ask about. It was in a section of a report not attributed to Messers Vrba and Wetzler. Accordingly, I will not ask the question. I have no further questions for Dr Vrba.

THE COURT: Thank you, Doctor. You can step down.

--- The witness retires.


VRBA's TESTIMONY: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ]

This is part 6 and last of the Testimony of Dr Rudolf Vrba: pages 1244-1644 of the transcript of the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial in Toronto, hereinafter reproduced verbatim and containing numerous instances of defective grammar, syntax, and spelling. Suggested editorial corrections , written with bold letters, are put in brackets.

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