Documents on the deputy commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz,
Hans AumeierSource: National Archives, Washington DC: RG.319 - IRR - XE.003245 Hans Aumeier (declassified for Mr Irving, Apr 24, 1993).
S E C R E T
Report No. PWIS Det(N)/18
NO. 211 Stubaf. Aumeier, Hans
AKERSHUS PRISON - 10 AUG 45
Aumeier is one of the rarer types of officers by his appearance. Small of stature, his slovenly gait, guttural voice uncouth manners induce one to believe that his services must have been considered of great value in order to obtain the rank of Stubaf. The matter contained in this report can be considered reliable in so far as this man is humanly capable of speaking the truth. All his statements have been checked, rechecked and cross-checked with the help of some of his colleagues. It must be remembered that he is completely uneducated and almost illiterate. A great deal can be seen from his life history prior to joining the . He seems to have been unable to hold any job for any length of time, which of course can be partly the fault of the economic and social crisis of the time.
The interrogator is satisfied that the bulk of the material in this report conforms with the truth in as far as it is concerned with facts, but Aumeier's personal reactions and feelings as stated in this report may have changed somewhat since his fate has taken a turn to the worse.
1. PRISONER'S LIFE HISTORY
2. PRISONER'S CAREER IN THE .
K. L. A U S C H W I T Z
(Jun 42 - May 43)
The following account of the KL Auschwitz (Oswiecim) in Poland was made by Aumeier only. For some considerable time he denied any knowledge of the camp and that he had anything to do with it. It was not until witnesses (both Polish inmates during his time and German -men who were in the notorious camp came, that he realised that it was useless to disguise the fact that he was Schutzhaftlagerleiter. In this capacity he was responsible for discipline and order among the prisoners. In the interrogator's opinion it is believed that a great deal of information can still be had on. the subject but it is unlikely that Aumeier with his memory can supply that information. His memory for names is very poor.. It can fairly safely be assumed that Aumeier is not withholding purposely much information.
1. CAMP ORGANISATION
The Camp administration and executive was divided into six Abteilungen. The Lagerkommandant (Camp Comd) was the senior offr and in many ways merely the nominal head of the entire concern.
(a) Abteilung I
This was the department which carried out the task of the Commandant.
(b) Abteilung Ia
This was a sub-unit of the above and was commanded by the Adjt. This Abt dealt with all mail, put forward suggestions, handed in papers for signature, etc. Further duties were the distribution of orders and dismissals. The Adjt was at the same time superior to all Unterführer and men of the HQ.
(c) Abteilung II
This was the so--called political Abteilung. The head of the Abteilung was a member of the Gestapo and he was directly subordinate to the Chief in Kattowitz. He was, however, indirectly under the commandant in so far as he had to keep the commandant in the picture and submit to him new changes of policy or in any special measures as ordered by the Gestapo. In this Abt all measures concerning the prisoners were dealt with from the day they arrived until the day they were either released or killed. Every prisoner was entered in files. They also carried out interrogations and investigations concerning major offences, and reports regarding their punishments were submitted directly to the camp comd. Any recommendation for release of a prisoner. was investigated by this Abt, especially in cases of habitual criminals and major political opponents. They also acted as a reception committee opening a file for each new arrival and giving him his number. In the case of death (except of Jews) this Abt informed the next-of-kin. Subordinate to this Abt were the crematoria which were run by a Häftlingskommando (squad of prisoners) which was under comd of a member of this Abt. If the next-of-kins desired it this Abt also arranged for the burial of the urns at the nearest cemetery.
(d) Abteilung III
Schutzhaftlager: This was directly under the commandant. The chief of this Abt was at the same time Erster Schutzhaftlagerführer (Aumeier). According to the size of the camp one or two other -Führer were at his disposal as Lagerführer. Also under his command wore the Rapportführer and Blockführer. The Schutzhaftlagerführer was responsible for the cleanliness, tidiness and discipline of the prisoners. He had to see that the working parties left promptly on time, was responsible for roll calls, lights out, etc. For minor offences he recommended appropriate punishments, but had no powers to mete out punishments without referring the matters to the commandant first. Recommendations for releases were also submitted by this Abt to the Comd. Postal censorship was also done by Abt III, and distribution of parcels to the prisoners. In cases of doubt the Abteilungsleiter made the final decision.
(e) Abteilung III
Arbeitseinsatzführung. Usually commanded by the 2nd i/c of the Abt. He was responsible for making up the working parties according to trades, as far as possible. He liaised very closely with local firms and armament factories.
(f) Abteilung IV
The Verwaltungsführer was directly responsible to Amtsgruppe "D" in Oranienburg. He was subordinate to the Commandant as far as supplies, clothing and other matters were concerned. In close liaison this Abt worked with III as far as personal effects of the prisoners were concerned. Prisoners' moneys and, belongings were exclusively dealt with by Abt. IV.
(g) Abteilung V
Standortarzt. Direct under Amtsgruppe "D" in Oranienburg. Under his comd were the dentists, doctors, chemists and medical orderlies. Those incapable of any work were recommended for extermination by the head of this Abt.
(h) Abteilung VI
Truppenbetreuung (Welfare of the troops) This Abt was responsible for politically educating the guard troops. Responsible to Amtsgruppe "D" in Oranienburg.
(i) Abteilung Landwirtschaft
This dept dealt with agricultural matters of the camp area. It was subordinate to the W. u. V.H.A. Berlin.
The Leiter of this Abt was responsible to Amtsgruppe "C" of W. u. V.H.A. Berlin. He was responsible to the commandant only in so far as camp construction and garrison engineering was concerned.
This man liaised with local armament firms and essential industries. He was on the camp strength but was at the same time a member of W. u. V.H.A. Berlin.
2. SUB-DIVISION OF CAMP
During Aumeier's time the CAMP consisted of:-
3. AUMEIER'S EXPERIENCE IN AUSCHWITZ
At the time Aumeier came to Auschwitz he was initiated as Schutzhaftlagerführer Abt III by the comd Stubaf Höss. At that time Aumeier had about 13,000 prisoners under him and his 2nd i/c as Ostuf Schwarz. To carry out his task he had some 50-60 -men who were detailed as Blockführer. Most of these men were senior NCOs. In this capacity he was 2nd i/c of the whole camp and deputised for the comd in his absence. Aumeier states, however that as deputy he had no powers to order punishments. He retained any recommendations awaiting the return of the comd. This seems probable in theory but in practice this order was not strictly adhere to, judging by statements of others. Aumeier furthermore states that he took very severe disciplinary measures if any man under his comd carried out punishments without due authorisation. He states that to hurry prisoners along they were allowed to "push" them. This can of course be widely interpreted and the has admitted that it came to beatings with rifle butts and sticks. Aumeier set the fashion of certain expressions when referring to prisoners and women prisoners which were in due course generally used.
a. Transport of Jewish prisoners
In approx. Jul 42 large transports of Jewish prisoners arrived in Auschwitz from Slovakia, Holland and France. These transports were at first all under the command of a -Ostubaf Hildebrand or Hermann (?) of the RSHA. According to a statement made by Höss this man was responsible to the RFSS personally for the transports of the Jews. The Stammlager was soon overcrowded since these transports. holding anything from 800 to 1,500 prisoners arrived almost daily, sometimes as many as two in 24 hrs. For this reason prisoners had to be sent to the outlying camp Birkenau which was then still under construction. Finally there were only 1400-1500 prisoners in the Stammlager which housed in the main prisoners who worked in neighbouring factories Bauleitung and agriculture.
On arrival the women were separated from the men and if there were any children they remained with the mother (if female) or with the father (if male), provided they were under 14 years of age. The camp doctor then separated the aged and infirm and sent them on to another camp.
In the autumn of 1942 a typhoid epidemic broke out together with para-typhus. Some 3,000 prisoners died at that time and were buried in Birkenau. Only Germans and Poled (non-Jewish) were cremated in Auschwitz. Later on en order came out from RFSS that all the bodies were to be exhumed again and were to be cremated. To perform this task Stundartenfü Bloml or Plobel (?) was attached to the camp who supervised the burning of the bodies which could not all be burnt in the crematorium owing to lack of space. Most bodies were burnt on piles. Ustuf Hessler was detailed by the commandant to supervise the Kommando of Jewish prisoners who had to do the exhuming and burning. Aumeier estimated the number of exhumed bodies to be 1400-1500. The crematoria as such were under Ustuf Grabner, head of the political Abt. In the winter 42/43 three more crematoria were built to meet the needs.
(b) Extermination of the Jews in Gas Chambers
Auschwitz earned its notorious reputation as "Vernichtungs-lager Auschwitz" from Nov 42 onwards. In that month the gassing of some 50-80 prisoners took place very secretly. It was done in the mortuary which was attached to the crematorium. The organisers of this were the commandant, the camp doctor and Ustuf Grabner. Some medical orderlies wore also present. Aumeier knew nothing this extermination and was only taken into the confidence of the Camp comd the next day. That day the camp doctor, Grabner, Hessler, Schwarz and Aumeier were summoned to the commandant office when the comd told then under the strictest secrecy that a he had received an order, from the RFSS via the RSHA in BERLIN that all Jewish prisoners who were infirm, sick or incapable of work were to be gassed in order to prevent further spreading of diseases. The commandant mentioned that the previous night the first exterminations had been carried out and that it was found that the improvised gas chamber did nothing like meet the needs so that in the erection of the new crematoria in Birkenau gas chambers will have to be built as permanent fixtures. The whole affair was "Geheime Reichssache" and they were warned that any indiscretion on the subject or careless talk would on the orders of Himmler be punished by death. On the strength of this they had to sign a statement that they were warned and instructed to that effect and this document was kept under lock and key in the office of the comd. Any additional members that joined the gang later were likewise put into the picture and warned by Ustuf Grabner and their documents were under his supervision. Aumeier states that the general reaction at the briefing was that of shock at such drastic measures but that they were nevertheless very excited. In the ensuing days three or four more exterminations took place in the Stammlager but the means were really inadequate for their ambitious designs. It was usually done in the late evening hours.
In the mortuary there were 2 or 3 ventilation shafts. Through these cyclone gas was poured by the medical orderlies who were protected by gas masks. The initiated members were not allowed to approach the spectacle for self protection, in case any gas might leak out of the chamber.
The victims arrived with their transports and were received into the camp by the members of the political Abteilung who sought out their prey. All those for extermination were segregated and told to undress for disinfection and de-lousing. They were then marched of to the gas chamber under the pretext of having a bath and the doors were securely locked behind them. The medical orderlies then poured in the lethal gas and the guards(selected by Aumeier) marched off. Aumeier was told that the death struggle only lasted about one minute. It must be noted that the prisoners never had the slightest idea of their dreadful fate. The children were mostly with their parents and the babies were invariably carried by their mothers.
On the following day the gas chamber was opened and ventilated, and this was also an opportunity for sightseeing by the specially selected sadists. Aumeier states that oven this cold-blooded extermination was too much for their refined senses, so that they had to retire to their casino where they indulged in the consumption of alcohol.
c. Further gas chambers in Birkenau
As has been mentioned before, in order to comply with the demands for extermination further Gas chambers were erected in Birkenau near the place where the mass graves were. For this purpose, they converted two empty houses which were fitted out in accordance with the results of former experiences. This work was done by Bauleitung. One house had two, the other one four gas chambers. The two houses were later known as "Bunker I" and "Bunker II". Each chamber was designed to cater for 150 victims. The first exterminations there took place early in Jan 43. By this time Sonderkommando had been set up of highly reliable -men under Ustf Grabner, who was directly responsible to the Camp comd. The exterminations as such were the commitment of Ustuf Hessler. The scene of the crime was separated by a series of notices marked: "Sicherungsbereich. Zutritt strengstens verboten. Der Lagerkommandant". When gassings were in progress a chain of sentries was put up around the whole area. To minimise any publicity only eight men were used. In Birkenau any child under eleven years was automatically murdered by these means. Sicherungsführer (Security offrs) of the guards during Aumeier's time were Hastuf Schwarz, Hastuf Hofmann, Ostuf Schwarzhuber, Ostuf Sell, Ostuf Müller, Ustuf Grabner, Ustuf Jostinger, Ustuf Hessler, Ostuf Pfütze, Haschaf Palli and Aumeier.
The day on which the chambers were ventilated (i.e. the day after the gassing took place) the medical orderlies under the direction of the camp dentist started an organised mutilation of the corpses, i.e. the removal of all gold teeth, and in the case of women the hair was cut off. Whether any skin was removed for the manufacture of lampshades as happened in other camps, is unknown to Aumeier.
After the mutilation had ceased a Häftlingskommando consisting of hulky, well-fed and strong Jewish prisoners came in under Hessler and removed the corpses to the crematorium. These prisoners were guarded by the Sonderkommando and were kept completely isolated from all other prisoners. In some cases the bodies were burnt. in the pits which were previously used when the order to bury all bodies was carried out.
In Apr 43 the new crematorium in Birkenau was ready and consisted of eight ovens. By this time the ingenuity of the Sonderkommando had reached its peak in that below the crematorium the gas chambers were situated and were large enough to cope with 800 prisoners at one time. In front of the gas chamber were the undressing rooms. To save time the "Bunker" was fitted out with a proper airing and ventilating mechanism so that one could enter the chamber already after some five or six hours. The bodies were placed on a lift and taken to the floor above and slid straight into the oven for immediate burning. All valuables belonging to the victims were sent to BERLIN (ss W. u. V.H.A.). Likewise were the teeth and hair. Clothes, in so far as they were of use to the prison , were retained and partially issued to the prisoners.
May 43 saw the opening of another crematorium where exterminations were carried out alternatively. The actual gas chamber was a little smaller and could only hold 500 victims. Yet a third crematorium was under construction when Aumeier left and was similar in every respect to Crematorium II. It had only five ovens
(d) Court Cases
From time to time a Standgericht assembled either in Kattowitz or in Auschwitz dealing with prisoners. Aumeier was only once present at one of those when a Pole was condemned death for assaulting a German woman. Whether that sentence was given by instruction from the RFSS or from the Gauleiter was unknown. The condemned man was sent into solitary confinement whilst waiting to be informed of the sentence. The commandant, the Leiter of Abt II, and Gestapo members from Kattowitz went into his cell and a translated version of the sentence was read out by an interpreter. The prisoner was then taken into the court yard where he was shot through the head in the presence of a doctor. There was no strict routine or procedure in these matters and Aumeier does not know whether any form or files or records were kept. He assumes that the next-of-kin were usually informed.
(e) Disciplinary Actions
The following are the disciplinary punishments permitted in the concentration camp. It must be remembered that these are only the ones authorised from BERLIN.
(i) Verwarnung (Reprimand). No physical punishments were given after the first reprimand. The prisoner was warned that any future occurrence or other infringement would be severely dealt with.
This is a brief summary of Aumeier's deeds and misdeeds in that camp. It can be realised that this is nothing like a full report of his activities there. A further report will be made when evidence of Polish citizens who were prisoners in the camp during Aumeier's time has been collated. It is believed that by this means Aumeier will see himself brought to a point where he will give the whole story complete with every detail he can recall. The rough outlines contained in this report do correspond to the truth but will not mark him as a criminal but merely as a participant in the crime.
GS Int(b)/G-2 Div, HQ, ALFN - 35