Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
[photos added to enhance the text]
Landgericht – Schwurgericht
The following took part in the session of the court on 24th April 1961.
The accused Franz Josef Müller born in 1910 in Mossbach is sentenced to prison on the following charges:
He is found not guilty of murder in the cases 5, 8 13 and 18 of the opening judgement. The accused loses his civil rights for life. The accused is to bear the cost of the case insofar as he has been condemned: the rest is for the account of the state.
The accused Franz Josef Müller was born in 1910 in Mosbach at the 18th of 19 children of the deceased David Müller and Rosa nee Hempfling. He grew up in his parents’ house and attended school in his native town 1917- 1925. He was an average pupil. He left from the 8th year without having had to repeat any year.
He was apprenticed as a bookbinder and picture framer at the firm of Bosch in Mosbach. Late in 1928 he made his journeyman –piece and with intervals determined by periods of unemployment, worked for his apprentice master until 1939. Because he was without work, he was a volunteer from late 1933 until spring 1934 with the Reichsarbeitsdienst. After that he was again unemployed. From 1.6.1935 until March 1936 he was a guard in the bookbinder workshop of the prison in Schwabisch Hall.
He was sacked without notice because according to his information he was supposed to have had a wooden cupboard made by a prisoner and had given the prisoner a small pack of snuff for it. As he was now once more unemployed, and because he hoped to get work through it, he joined the general SS in 1936. A short time later he got a job at the head office of the SS-Standarte in Heidelberg.
His activity was exclusively concerned with internal organisation – filing, messages and the like, he received at that time RM95 per month according to his information. The accused married Rosa Krauss on 22 March 1937. There were two children of this marriage born on 11.10.1937 and 5.2.1940.
At the beginning of September 1939 the accused was moved to Waffen-SS (SS Division North) at Danzig. After he had attended a course at the school for non-commissioned officers in Breslau from December 1939 to February 1940, he came back to his Truppenteil as SS-Unterscharfuhrer.
At the beginning of April 1940 he was sent with his unit to Norway. In the spring of 1941 he came to the Arctic Ocean from south Norway with his division and into action after the beginning of the war with Russia. According to his – rather varying – information he was wounded in September 1941 (shot in the leg, bayonet wound in the leg, hit on the head with the stock of a gun) and came back to Germany via a Finnish field hospital.
The accused who at the time is supposed to have been described as g/h, was ordered in December 1941 from his unit in Wehlau, near Konigsberg to be sent to the Hoheren SS und Polizeifuhrer in Krakau, SS- Obergruppenfuhrer Kruger. Kruger commanded the police and SS in the districts of Krakau, Lemberg and Warschau. The accused was sent by Kruger to the SS and police officer of the Krakau district, SS and police officer Scherner.
There he was first of all employed for internal services, he had however, to be present as personal guard for Sturmbannfuhrer Fellenz of Scherner’s staff on at least 5 so-called deportations of Jews which there were many shootings and many cruelties. He had in the meantime come to know Scherner who was filled with an implacable hatred against Jews and a determination to exterminate them.
In June 1942 he was charged by Scherner with the responsibility for the Jewish work camps which had hitherto come under NSDAP – Plaszow (Julag I), Prokoczim (Julag II) and Bieszanow (Julag III).
The accused was replaced as head of the camps in October or November 1943, he went to action at the front with the SS division “Galizien” after he according to his own information, had been ill until mid-January with a nervous breakdown, and he is supposed to have been condemned to “6 weeks action at the front on approval” because of favouring Jews.
He became a Russian prisoner of war at Lublinca on 5.3. 1944, he was in various prisoner of war camps in Nowosbirsk, Moskau and Stalinowgorsk. According to information from a note of 10.8 from UDSSR in the Federal Republic of Germany he was condemned in 1949 – according to information from the accused on 25.12.1949 to 25 years forced labour, “because of crimes against the Soviet peoples during the war with fascist Germany.”
He was then released from imprisonment on 14.10.1955 and returned to Germany. Since then and until his arrest on 8.1.1960 he has lived with his family in Limbach, Kreis Mosbach where he worked at his trade in the lamp factory Badenia. He has been on remand since 9.1.1960. According to the record the accused has no previous convictions. These details are based, unless otherwise indicated, on admissions by the accused.
The inmates of the three abovementioned camps were Polish Jews. They were employed in German companies engaged on railway works near Krakau. They had to begin with, a certain liberty, according to the accused however, they had to be in the camp exclusively, outside working hours.
There was at first only basic fencing, which was made stronger and higher and later on watchtowers were built. The inmates of the camp were accommodated in the most primitive fashion in barracks. They were short of clothes, shoes, beds and sanitary arrangements.
The provisions were very bad and insufficient. According to the accused he had nevertheless allowed the inmates of the camp to buy or barter foodstuffs from outside the camp. The Jews in the camp had a type of self-administration which was carried out through so-called Jewish counsellors (Judenrate) they were helped by the Jewish Ordnungsdienst also called camp police.
The members of this Ordnungsdienst wore special clothing and were armed with a rubber truncheon. Guarding the inmates of the camp was chiefly done by Ukrainians, Estonians and Letts who were armed with guns and machine guns and reported to the accused. There were no administrative rules for the camp or camp by-laws. The will and conditions of the accused were all that counted in the camp – with the exception of the orders of his superiors – they were highest law. The inmates of the camp were in every respect without protection defence or rights.
Apart from the three aforementioned Jewish work camps there was also from about March 1943 the concentration camp Plaszow, where SS –Untersturmfuhrer Amon Göth was commandant. The accused was in fact involved in part with the construction of this camp by building the barracks, but otherwise had nothing to do with it or its inmates, nor was Göth his direct superior.
These details come principally from the admission of the accused and furthermore from the believable and sworn statements of the witnesses mentioned at IIB in the individual cases.
During the time the accused was commandant of the three Jewish work camps –Plaszow, Prokoczim and Bieszanow he killed Jews or caused their deaths in the following cases:
In camp Plaszow (Julag 1) there was a young Jewish boy of about 15 years by the name of Spievak or Spervak. When he came to the camp he had brought the horse from his father’s farm. The accused had stables built and made Spievak the stable boy, he regarded the horse as his property.
Spievak had permission by the accused according to the latter, to ride the horse. On a no longer ascertainable day in September 1942 the accused wanted after work to drive from the camp Plaszow (Julag 1) to Krakau in his horsecart.
He went to the stables. There he saw Spievak riding the horse and that so hard that it was sweating a lot. He was furious and shouted, “What have you done with my horse, tore Spievak down from the horse, shot him with his pistol in the neck, dragged him behind and aimed a further shot at him. Spievak was killed by these two shots.
These details are based on the confession of the accused. They are however also proved by the believable and sworn of the witnesses Leon Macarz, Chil Dziewinski, Chajm Lesmann and Gerczon Lesmann who were eyewitnesses in this case. The accused did admit that he shot this Jew because he had already received orders from the garrison to shoot 15 Jews and also because he had recognised him as a Gestapo spy.
It cannot actually be denied that the accused did at that time receive an order to shoot Jews. But he himself has declared that he had not considered whom he should shoot because of the order, and that he did not go to the stables with the intention of carrying out this order. So the order was not a determining factor in the killing of this Jew.
The Court furthermore does not believe that he suddenly recognised the Jew as a Gestapo spy. The fact that he spent a lot of time with this Jew speaks against it, and he should have arrived at such a conclusion much earlier. In addition his reasons for why he should have thought this Jew was a Gestapo spy are not convincing. According to him he is supposed to have recognised him as the Jew who at the deportation of Jews in Myslenice, pushed the bodies of Jewish inhabitants who had been killed during the deportation off the roofs with a stick.
That it should have made him a Gestapo spy is not convincing because it could simply have been the case of a Jew who got ordered to do this, just as the accused had the bodies of inmates in his camp buried by other inmates, without it making them into spies. What is more the accused knew well that shooting a Gestapo spy could get him into an extremely dangerous situation?
Because of the trustworthy statements of the abovementioned witnesses and because of a legally certified statement dated 9.1.1960 about a confession the Court is convinced that the accused did not kill the Jew for the stated reasons, but out of rage, because he had not treated the horse properly, which in the opinion of the accused belonged to him.
Originally the guarding of camp Plaszow (Julag 1) was also carried out by Jewish Ordnungsdienst men. They had to stand guard at the camp gate. According to information from the accused he had had a bell wire installed from the camp gate to the barracks where he lived in front of the camp, in order to warn the guards of the approach of SS officers.
One evening in the autumn of 1942 after it was already dark, the accused attention was drawn by his Jewish house-help who was called Luda to the fact that Scherner was in the camp. He went to the camp at once and reported to Scherner, “Nothing special to report.” Scherner said, “And what is that?”
He then pointed to the Jewish Ordnungsdienst man who should have been standing at the gate, but was asleep in the guardhouse. Scherner said, “Put that man down.” Whereupon the accused killed the sleeping Ordnungsdienst man, whose name is not known, by a shot of his pistol through his chest.
These details are based on the confession of the accused in the main case.
At the beginning of the year 1943 Jewish workers were employed by a German company in Pirchamo on track building. This entailed carrying girders, planks and boards over the railway track along which supplies were carried east. During this work, two Jewish workers aged about 20 years, whose names are not known, let a board or plank fall onto this track either out of weakness or because an approaching locomotive frightened them.
The locomotive pushed this board or plank out of the way without causing any kind of damage. A German foreman by the name of Schlager of the track construction company reported to the accused that these two Jews had caused sabotage by tying several large girders to the rail with wire. The accused went to the construction site and there killed the two Jews by shots of his pistol through the chest without prior investigation or having examined the two.
These details are based on the believable and sworn statements of the witnesses Isaak Heitlinger, Simon Schlachet, David Plattner, Israel Alster, Israel Kamer and Samuel Wolf, as well as a confession in a legally certified statement of 9.1.1960 made for the purpose of evidence. The accused has in fact denied this deed in the main case but has been convicted by the evidence of the aforementioned witnesses these persons were eyewitnesses to the deed of the accused.
The witness Israel Alster was about 10m and the witness Samuel Wolf about 20-30m from the spot, whereas the other witnesses were 100-150m away. The witnesses have all denied the possibility of confusion with an SS member by the name of Pilarczik. The witnesses Israel Kamer and Samuel Wolf above all, knew both the accused and Pilarczik quite well. In addition comes the fact that the accused himself has confessed this deed in the certified statement of 9.1.1960. This was at a time when it was not yet confirmed by witnesses.
The accused is therefore convicted of having killed these two Jews.
On a night in the winter of 1942/43 the exact date of which can no longer be established, the accused noticed that a Jewish Ordnungsdienst man, whose name is no longer known was about to leave camp Plaszow (Julag I) without his permission.
He shouted to him “Halt. Stand still or I shoot.”
The Ordnungsdienst man’s reaction to this was to run further away. The accused took a German rifle from one of the guards standing near and aimed two shots from a distance of about 60m at the fleeing man with the intention of killing him. He hit him at the back of the head and in the back. The man died at once.
These details are based on the accused confession given in a statement on 9.1.1960 that was taken in a proper manner for the purpose of evidence. In the main case the accused has stated that he could neither admit nor deny this case. Nevertheless in this case too the witness statements were not known at the time of the accused confession, the accused did also report it first to the police and then to the magistrate.
For all these reasons the Court is convinced that the accused killed this Ordnungsdienst man. He also shot with the intention to kill in contradiction to his statement of 9.1.1960. This is clear from the fact that he aimed at the head and back of the fleeing person and that he fired two shots.
Altogether the accused was not concerned about the life of a Jew more or less. In all these circumstances the Court has come to the conclusion that the accused did not want to prevent the Ordnungsdienst man from committing the more or less serious offence of escaping, but that he wanted to kill him.
On an evening in August 1943, the exact date of which can no longer be established, the accused received telephonic orders from his superior officer SS-Oberfuhrer Scherner, to shoot the Jewish pharmacist couple Hofstetter who were in his camp Plaszow (Julag I) because they were supposed to have a secret transmitter.
He went to the barracks where they lived, searched it without finding any transmitter, ordered them to go outside and shot them nearby behind the barracks with his pistol. These details are based on the confession of the accused in the main case. But they have also been confirmed by the believable and sworn statements of the witnesses Chajm Lesmann and Chil Lesmann who were eyewitnesses of this deed. The witness Abraham Jama, who knew the names of the victims, saw both the bodies.
On a day in the year 1943 the exact date of which can no longer be established the Judenrat Liebschutz in camp Pirschamo (Julag III) brought to the accused a Jew whose name is no longer known.
Liebschutz declared that this man had scabies so there was a danger of infection, furthermore he stole in the camp and the accused should shoot him. Without having the man examined by the Jewish doctor who was in camp Plaszow and without checking Liebschutz’s information, the accused killed the man immediately by a shot with his pistol.
These details are based on the confession of the accused in the main case.
Near camp Pirschamo (Julag III) there were 2 or 3 smaller barracks in which the Kluck Company had illegally placed Jewish workers. On an evening in August 1943 the exact date of which is no longer ascertainable, one of the barracks caught fire.
The accused who was in the Jewish ghetto in Krakau with Scherner and Göth, ran at once to the fire and saw how Jewish men and women ran from it. Göth and his people who had meanwhile arrived, shot at the fleeing people with machine guns.
The accused ordered the head of his Jewish camp police, a man called Themann, to bring as many fleeing Jews as possible into camp Plaszow (Julag I). Themann brought 37 Jewish women into the aforementioned camp. There the accused had the women undress naked or half-naked and whilst they wept and said their final prayers he personally shot 14 women with the machine pistol. The other 23 women were shot by the camp guard on his orders.
These details are based on believable and sworn statements of the witnesses Leon Macarz, Bernhard Weber, Nathan Finkelstein and Chil Dziewinski, as well as the legally certified and properly taken statement about a confession of 9.1.1960. The number of women shot at that time is apparent from the statement of the witness Bernhard Weber. He counted the bodies when they were buried. This number also corresponds to that of the statement of 9.1.1960 (about 30).
If on the other hand the witness Chil Dziewinski has told that 11 women and girls were shot at the time, then that is no contradiction. The witness did not see the shooting, but only helped to bury the bodies afterwards. He himself buried 11 bodies but while he was doing that he did not take any notice of the other Jewish camp inmates charged with the same work. It is clear from his confession in certified statement that the accused himself did some shooting.
That he shot 14 women – contrary to his statement 2 or 3 – is proved by the statement of the witness Leon Macarz who has declared unequivocally that the accused shot 14 women with a machine gun. The witness saw the proceedings from a window in the barracks from about 5m distance, and therefore was able to observe everything clearly.
Furthermore the witness Bernhard Weber and Nathan Finkelstein observed and declared that both the accused as well as people from his guard staff shot the women. The accused states that Göth had ordered him to kill these women or have them killed. Göth did actually have a higher rank than him, but he was not his direct superior officer. As he himself states in his written report “Bridges to Freedom” which he has confirmed the correctness of in the main case, the accused could have “let them run.”
On a Saturday morning in the summer of 1942, the exact date of which can no longer be established, the accused got members of Janietz’ camp guard in camp Plaszow (Julag I) to fetch at least 10 elderly and very emaciated Jews, whose names are no longer known, out of the sick bay, after he had first of all had scraps of paper strewn over the camp street.
These Jews had to pick up the paper on the orders of the accused. They believed that they had to clean the street just as they and other patients from the sick –bay had done on previous days. The accused knew that was what the 10 Jews thought. He also knew they that they were completely ignorant of what was about to happen to them and what he intended to do to them.
As they bent down in order to pick up the scraps of paper, the accused took advantage of their defencelessness and lack of suspicion caused by the harmless events of the previous days, and killed at least two of them by shots in the neck.
At the same time he ordered Janietz and other members of the camp guard who were also aware of the defencelessness and lack of suspicion of the aforementioned Jews, to kill the others in the same way. They followed this order and shot the other 8 Jews by shots in the neck.
These details are based on the believable and sworn statement of the witness Stefan Pemper. The accused in fact describes this report as invention, this is also because such events fall completely outside the framework of what he has otherwise been accused of.
The accused is however clearly convicted by the statement of the witness Stefan Pemper. The witness made an excellent impression in the main case. He gave his evidence without any hatred against the accused and also supplied details which in another connection cast a better light on the accused, namely that he did not report that typhoid fever had broken out in the camp and therefore avoided the liquidation of the camp, that he had allowed children in the camp although it was prohibited, and that during the clearing of the ghetto in Krakau – these Jews were taken to the concentration camp Plaszow – he had taken Jews from the ghetto to his camp.
The witness gave his evidence completely dispassionately and objectively but also in a quite definitive manner. He has an excellent memory. In reply to questions he could give the accused – who himself has a good memory, at least for names – names of certain persons without hesitation, even in cases where even the accused no longer remembered them, and only had described these people and their positions and confirmed the names later given by witnesses.
The witness saw the shootings with his own eyes out of a barracks window in the immediate vicinity. He was in the barracks because he had “indulgence.” There can be no question of confusion with Göth or anyone else in the case of the excellent memory of the witness who also knew Göth well, and the idea of confusion is expressly rejected by the witness.
Nor was the accused a stranger to such events, according to his own admissions. The witness Chil Dziewinski has in another connection declared on oath that the accused at various times stood at the camp gate when they came back from work in the evening and threw small pieces of bread on the ground and was amused when the starving people bent to pick them up. From this it is apparent that such proceedings as those described by the witness Pemper were not strange to him although in another connection and with another purpose.
The Court is convinced that the witness Stefan Pemper has declared the truth.
There was a German by the name of Hans Ohm in camp Prokoczim (Julag II), he belonged to Organisation Todt, wore civilian clothing and was in charge of the camps as a stand-in for the accused.
He was not disliked by the Jewish camp inmates. In the camp it was said that he had intimate relations with a Jewish camp inmate with the first name Paula, a very beautiful girl from Miechow. On a day in the summer of 1942, the exact date can no longer be established, the accused, who had heard of this rumour, came to the camp together with Janietz.
On his order the camp inmates had to line up as if to be counted. On the orders of the accused Janietz pulled this Jewess out from the ranks and killed her on the accused orders in front of all the camp inmates by a shot through the neck. These details are based on the sworn and believable statements of the witness Stefan Pemper. The accused has admitted that he did know of the shooting of the girl but that he was not the killer, he was at that time not yet in charge of the camp.
But he is convicted by the statement of the witness Sefan Pemper. The witness, who had meanwhile been transferred from camp Plaszow (Julag I) to camp Prokoczim (Julag II), stood at the time in the front line of the line up and was able to see everything exactly. He together with 3 other camp inmates also had to bury the body. As far as the capacity and truthfulness of the statements of this witness, reference is made to the account above under number 8.
The Court is therefore convinced that it was the accused who ordered the killing of this Jewish girl.
At the end of 1942, beginning of 1943 the concentration camp Plaszow was established in the former Jewish cemetery in Jerosolimska Street in Krakau. At first the accused had the job of planning and supervising this work, he also had to find Jewish workers for this work. On a day, no longer exactly ascertainable, at the end of 1942/ beginning of 1943 it was suggested to the accused by Scherner that the work was progressing too slowly and that he used too few workers.
Scherner demanded that from the next day 1,000 Jews had to work at the construction of the concentration camp. The accused then called the members of the Jewish Ordnungsdienst Poldek Goldberg, and Tomek Katz and demanded of them and made them responsible for getting at least 1,000 Jewish workers to come at once to work on the construction of the concentration camp Plaszow.
The next day the work was inspected by SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Haase who belonged to Scherner’s staff. At the counting parade Goldberg reported that 1,000 were working.
On recounting it appeared however that the number fell short of 1,000 by an amount which is no longer certain. On the order of Haase given by a hand signal, the accused then killed Poldek Goldberg and Tomek Katz, who had the lists was called over, with a shot in the head or neck with his pistol after they had to turn around on his orders.
These details are based on the accused own confession and the believable and sworn statements of the witness Stefan Pemper and Julius Spokojny, in the main case and the declared statement of the witness Jakob Gdanski made legally and certified as part of the Court record.
The above mentioned witnesses did not hear, contrary to the accused account, that Haase gave the order to shoot the two Jews, although they must heard this in view of their closeness to Haase. Haase did have the habit, even in the case of the most radical orders, of conveying them without words simply with a movement of a hand ot thumb, as was confirmed by the witness Stefan Pemper.
It is therefore not out of the question that such a hand signal escaped the witnesses so that it cannot be denied that the accused acted on the orders of Haase. On an evening of a date no longer ascertainable, in the autumn of 1942 at the fence near the entrance to camp Plaszow (Julag I) the accused killed a camp inmate, whose name is no longer known, of about 20 -25 years old, who had to stand with raised hands with his face to the fence, by a shot in the neck with his pistol.
This state of affairs is established because of the sworn and believable statements of the witness Julius Spokojny. The witness came past with his working group outside the camp and saw the event exactly at a distance of 20 -30 m. The accused himself admits that a man was killed in that way at the time. But he has stated that he has been taken for an SS member by the name of John.
John had come at the time from concentration camp Plaszow and demanded of the accused that the Jews in his camp be painted like zebras. When this Jewish camp inmate had resisted being painted he was shot by John.
But the witness had declared that he knew both well, the accused and John, and that confusion is out of the question. The accused had repeatedly boasted that he did not permit in his camps any attacks by persons who did not belong in the camp, and that in some cases he even took violent steps against such persons.
It can therefore not be accepted that he tolerated at all the wishes of John, who was under the hostile Göth, to paint the Jews and then allowed the shooting of this Jew by John. The Court sees this account by the accused as a unsubstantiated defensive statement. Furthermore, the account of the witness Spokojny is precisely supported by the account of the accused that he did not tolerate any attacks.
The Court is therefore convinced of the correctness and truth of the clear and definitive evidence of the witness Spokojny. On a day, no longer ascertainable, in the summer of 1942 the accused stopped a group of 70 -80 Jewish workers who were marching past camp Plaszow (Julag I) having come out of the Krakau ghetto with the words, “Who is in charge here?”
The workers who were under the leadership of Jewish Ordnungsdienst men were on their way to their place of work at the so-called “Eastern Railway” and were walking all anyhow. An Ordnungsdienst man reported. The accused shouted to him, “Where are you taking this dungheap?”
The Ordnungsdienst man reported to the accused that “he was on the way to the Eastern Railway place of work with x number of workers. The accused swore at him loudly because the people were not in sufficiently closed ranks, and got more and more enraged.
He shouted loudly at the Ordnungsdienst man, ordered him to turn around, and killed him with a shot of his pistol in the neck. He screamed loudly “I’ll put you all down. I’ll have the whole heap put down,” and ordered the 5-6 men of the camp guard, among them Janietz, who had come running because of the shot, to shoot 10 Jews.
Janietz and the others of the guard pulled at least 10 Jewish out of the columns stood them 10 – 15 m to one side and shot them with their machine guns in the presence of the accused.
The accused then said to the other Jewish workers that that should be a warning to them that it might be their turn. The column was allowed to continue on their way to work after he had put another Ordnungsdienst man in charge of this works column, which did not consist of inmates from his camps and which did not concern him at all, with the words “Now I want to see how you deal with this.”
These circumstances have been established based on the believable and sworn, certified and properly taken statement of 18.4.1961 of the witness Jakob Gdanski. The accused denies having carried out this killing and ordered the shootings.
He is however convicted by the account of the witness Jakob Gdanski. The account of this witness, as is apparent from its contents, has not been given out of hatred but represents an objective representation of the events of that time. He has even correctly described the colour of the uniform of the accused (field-grey), so that the objection generally made by the accused that he could not be the culprit in some of the cases he denies, because the witnesses always speak of a black SS uniform has been contradicted.
In any case none of the witnesses in the main case described the colour of the accused uniform as black. The witness Gdanski gave his evidence clearly, surely, definitively and without qualms and without showing hostile feelings towards the accused. In spite of the denials of the accused the Court is therefore convinced that according to the above statements he killed a Jew and ordered the shooting of at least 10 more.
On the morning of a day that cannot now be established exactly, in autumn or early autumn 1942 the accused met a Jewish work group from his camp Prokoczim (Julag II) of about 25 -30 men as they bought or bartered foodstuffs from Poles on their way to work at the Kluck company.
During this the leading Jewish workers of this group and about half of the workers went into the Polish houses that were on their way to work, whilst the others waited outside. As it seemed to the accused, the Jewish workers in the houses tried to run out quickly in order to avoid those who waited outside. The accused had all those who had come out of the houses separated out by the guardsmen, among whom was Janietz.
He did not accept the defence of the foremen that he had only wanted some water and the others too had only wanted to drink some water. Because he ordered the foremen, who was only known by his first name Aaron and by his nickname “Krawacioz,” to turn around and shot him in the head at close range with his own pistol, or with the machine pistol of Janietz – the foreman was dead at once.
The accused ordered Janietz and the other guardsmen to “put down” all those who had come out of the houses. They followed this order and shot at least 10 of the Jewish workers. These facts are based on the sworn and believable statements given in accordance with the law by the witness Jakob Gdanski on 18.4.1961. The accused has said that he knows nothing of this matter. But Gdanski was an eyewitness and only a few meters way, he was himself a member of the work column. For the reasons already mentioned above under no 12 the Court is convinced that the witness has spoken the truth.
At the dissolution of camp Prokoczim (Julag II) about March 1943, the accused pulled at least 6 Jewish prisoners out of the column drawn up for the departure of the Jewish inmates for Camp Plaszow (Julag I). He looked for those that had injuries, wore bandages or locked ill. He ordered them to lie down on the earth with their faces to the ground. He then ordered Janietz and another of the guards to shoot these Jews. They followed the order they killed the 6 Jews by shots in the head with rifles.
This state of affairs has been established by the sworn and believable statements of the witnesses Karl Dziewienski , Felix Dziewienski and Rosa Dziewienski. The accused denies this and says that the camp Prokoczim was only dissolved after he was no longer the camp commandant.
Because of the statements of the abovementioned witnesses it has however been established that camp Prokoczim was dissolved in March 1943. The witness Karl Dziewienski has seen with his own eyes that the accused pulled out at least 6 prisoners from the column at the time and had them shot by Janietz and another guard.
He was only 10m away. The witness remembers this so exactly because he himself had quickly torn a plaster away from his face in order not to be seen injured or ill or unfit for work and thereby avoid the threat of being shot.
This event made such an impression on the witness that there can be no doubt about his ability to remember it. The witness Felix Dziewienski was also an eyewitness to these shootings- he made the same statement as the witness Karl Kziewienski. The witness Rosa Dziewienski has not in fact seen the shootings herself, but was told about them when the column arrived in camp Plaszow and she noted that the men who were said to have been shot did not arrive in the camp.
The witness Felix Dziewienski and Rosa Dziewienski have given their statements very objectively, calmly, unequivocally and definitely. There was in no way any impression that they were blaming the accused unfairly or that their statements were dictated or influenced by hatred.
Their statements were also supported by the conditions that were general knowledge, namely that at the time Jews were regarded, by those in power and their helpers, to be only worth keeping alive as workers and that they were destroyed if there was the slightest reason to think that they were no longer capable of working.
That the accused arranged the shootings is clear from the fact that he himself sought out the men in question and gave them to Janietz and that he was present during the shooting. On a day, which can no longer be determined exactly, in the summer of 1942 two Jews were brought before the accused in camp Plaszow (Julag I) by one of the German masters of the firms working in Krakau.
They were a Jew by the name of Jakubowits, about 50 years old, who was one of the inmates of camp Plaszow and a Jewish boy of 15-16 years by the name of Sultanik, who was not a camp inmate. The master told the accused that Sultanik had brought Jakubowitz on his instigation clothes or goods parcels from his hometown. Whereupon the accused took both behind the barracks and shot them there by shots with his pistol, after Sultanik in vain first of all had thrown himself at his feet, kissed his boot and begged him to let him live.
These facts, insofar as the shooting of Sultanik is concerned are based on the confession of the accused in the main procedure, it has however also been corroborated by the statement of the witness Moniek Olmer and Abraham Jama. Furthermore, that is regarding the killing of Jakubowitz, which is denied by the accused and the surrounding circumstances of both cases, they are also supported by the believable and sworn statements of the above mentioned two witnesses.
They were eyewitnesses and have observed the deed of the accused exactly through the window of the barracks behind which the shootings were carried out by the accused. The Court has based on the personal impression of the witnesses, and because of the part- confession of the accused, reached the conclusion that the course of events as described above took place and that the accused also shot Jakubowitz.
Taking into account the situation at the time and the attitude of the accused it would in fact be incredible that he should only have shot Sultanik who was not a camp inmate, whilst the camp inmate Jakubowitz should have gone unpunished. it is just as unlikely that the German master should only have brought Sultanik who did not belong to the accused camp to the accused in his camp, the accused would not have had anything to do with this Jew.
From the above facts it is also clear that the reasons given by the accused for shooting Sultanik – he is supposed to have committed sodomy with a pig and earlier with a duck- cannot have given rise to his being shot. The accused has in fact given no concrete reasons for his motives for taking the lives of these people insofar as they died by his hand, as indicated in cases no 7, 14,15 and 20 of the opening decision and furthermore in cases no 9, 10 and 17 of the opening decision.
From the circumstances described above and from the personality of the accused shown through them, it has been made clear that he killed from a total and limitless disregard for the value of the lives of his victims. He was the master of life and death of the camp inmates. Their lives were nothing to him, he disposed over them at will as over the life of an annoying insect. Their death meant to him no more than the destruction of vermin.
Ice cold, merciless and without any emotion other than limitless contempt, he struck down his victims without warning. Furthermore he intended with the shootings in the aforementioned cases to maintain and strengthen his mastery of violence, the fear and the conditions of the camp inmates. This was in order to produce in the Jewish camp inmates, who had been made completely defenceless and without rights, a feeling of constant fear, constant expectation of death and a feeling of being totally at the mercy and whim of the accused and his accomplices and this condition was to be maintained by the shootings.
The accused therefore killed in the cases in question from such low motives. In case no 10 of the opening decision the accused has moreover also killed secretly as is apparent from the above established facts.
In cases Nos. 2, 6 and 12 of the opening decision he knew and was aware of it, that his direct superiors, the higher SS and police officers Scherner and the SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Haase were motivated by an implacable hatred against the Jews and that they had made it their task and had set as their goal to destroy and exterminate the Jews in Krakau district. Scherner had repeatedly told the accused of his intention of being the first to make his district “free of Jews.”
He had time and again on the slightest excuse expressed to the accused his hatred of Jews. The so-called deportations of Jews in various townships of the Krakau district were carried out on five occasions. The accused knew that the orders to kill given by Scherner and by Haase were given out of hatred for Jews and with the objective of destroying the Jewish people.
He therefore knew that these orders were a crime, namely that time and again on the slightest excuse expressed to the accused his hatred of Jews. The so-called deportations of Jews in various townships of the Krakau district were carried out on five occasions. The accused knew that the orders to kill given by Scherner and by Haase were given out of hatred for Jews and with the objective of destroying the Jewish people.
He therefore knew that these orders were a crime, namely that of murder from base motives. In cases 11, 16 and 19 of the opening decision as well as in cases 9, 10 and 17 insofar as the accused ordered the killing, he knew that Janietz and the other guards whom he commanded to do the shooting, would carry out these killings out of an implacable hatred towards the Jewish people, with the objective of their extermination.
For the mentioned reasons and with the mentioned objective these persons carried out the shootings in these cases too. The accused knew this and it was what he wanted. He therefore knew the particular circumstances which made the killing by the perpetrators into murder.
In the cases 1, 3 and 4 of the opening decision the conditions according to S211, sec II could not be established. In case 1 of the opening decision the accused killed out of rage because of what he considered maltreatment of his horse. In case 3 he trusted the accusation of the German employers, that there had been sabotage and killed for that reason. In case 4 finally he killed because he believed that the Jewish Ordnungsdienstmann had wanted to escape.
There was no justification for the accused in any of the cases mentioned under II B. As he no longer denies, he was in fact aware of this. He also no longer claims that to maintain order in the camp he had to kill a certain number of Jews in order to save the other camp inmates from liquidation.
Nor is there any refutation under present jurisprudence of the so-called quantitative state of emergency. The accused considered his deeds neither legal nor permitted. He has furthermore recognised the illegality of his conduct and he had the intention to do wrong. The accused has himself declared in the main proceedings that he knows and knew when he committed the crimes that it is and was then legally and morally prohibited to kill a person without justifiable reason.
In the main proceedings he has also expressly stated that he would not deny that he was conscious of the illegal nature of his deeds at the time they were committed. Furthermore he has repeatedly stated in the main proceedings how much the shooting of Jews during the so-called “sorties” shocked, shook and depressed him, and that he considered them so unjust that he even once wept on that account.
This enables an additional conclusion to be drawn regarding the presence of his consciousness of wrong in respect of the killings carried out by himself or on his orders. In all cases mentioned under II B the accused intended, insofar as he himself did the shooting, to kill the persons in question by the shots fired by him, he was also aware that his action would have this result. He therefore acted intentionally. He did not want to support punishable offences as hostile, but he himself was prepared to commit them and did commit them on his own account.
The plan of destruction of those then in power with a view to the extermination of Judaism was not a determining factor for his actions. Furthermore he had, independently of it and without reference to it, killed in all these cases in his capacity of camp commandant and with total power in his own view as unlimited master of life or death of his camp inmates.
He would not support any hostile plan of destruction – if he knew of it at all and he has sometimes confirmed this and sometimes denied it. In individual cases- can be added the fact that- a quite personal reason was the determining factor for his decision to kill. In his case it is therefore a matter of committing a crime and not aiding and abetting.
From the aforementioned circumstances it is further clear that in cases 2, 6 and 12 of the opening decision there was no question of acting under orders. The accused had no reason to fear for his life or safety by refusing to carry out an order. He was not at the front. In fact he has himself actually boasted of not having carried out orders to kill Jews, but only reported that it has been done. If he did not carry out the orders he had no reason to fear for his own life or limb. He gave no thought to it at all, but just carried out the illegal orders out of blind obedience.
But no one can avoid punishable responsibility by blind obedience.
Apart from the fact that in the case of crimes against life there can be no connecting link, the accused did not in fact act on the basis of a deliberate decision, made in advance, aimed at being repeatedly committed and with a unitary end result, but he acted from case to case on the basis of an independent decision made at the time.
This is apparent from the differences in the circumstances that led to the shootings. Each killing and instigation of killing is therefore an independently punishable act.
The accused has therefore:
1) Killed a person from base motives and at the same time with malice in 22 cases (numbers 7,9 partly, 10 partly, 14, 15 17 partly and 20 of the opening decision)
2) Deliberately caused another to commit the same punishable offence, namely killing a person from base motives – and in case number 10 of the opening decision also from malice by abusing his authority and through other means, in a further 58 cases (numbers 9 partly, 10 partly, 11, 16, 17 partly and 19 of the opening decision.)
3) In a further 5 cases (numbers 2,6 and 12 of the opening decision) killed a person in his capacity of obedient subordinate carrying out an order in the course of duty, knowing that the order of his superior officer was a common crime, namely the killing of a person from base motives.
4) Deliberately killed a person in a further 4 cases (number 1,3 and 4 of the opening decision) without it being murder.
1.In number 1 of the opening decision the accused is charged with having shot in September 1943 a man named Reinherz of the Jewish Ordnungsdienst who had gone into Krakau in order to trade on the black market, the accused awaited him on his return at the back gate of the camp and shot him with his rifle.
The accused admits having shot this man. He has however also indicated that he assumed in error but without negligence that he was being attacked with a pistol by Reinherz. In this connection he stated; When Reinherz came to Julag I he had brought a knitting machine with him. In the time following, pullovers were made on this by Reinherz and his associates with the approval of the accused, and sold on the black market in Krakau.
He had warned Reinherz repeatedly not to get caught. One day in September 1943 when Reinherz had once more been at the black market he had a telephone call from Gestapo in Krakau that a man of his Ordnungsdienst had been caught selling on the black market in Krakau but that he had escaped and that this man had a pistol on him.
He then went to the rear entrance of Lager Plaszow (Julag I) and waited for Reinherz. Reinherz came after some time. He had his right hand in the pocket of his jacket and the left lower arm was pressed tightly against his body in order to stop the things (it is no longer possible to say what they were) he had under his jacket from falling down.
He called to Reinherz and several times asked him to hand over what he had in his pocket. Reinherz did not meet this request, Reinherz also did not answer. He then got a rifle from the guard by calling “Rifle here,” and called to Reinherz “Hands up.” Reinherz then pulled his right hand with a pistol out of his pocket. He believed Reinherz wanted to attack him with the pistol, he therefore fired and Reinherz was killed by this shot.
He then established that the pistol which Reinherz drew was not ready for shooting, because it was not loaded, in fact still greased. He then realised that Reinherz had not intended to attack him, but had wanted to give him the pistol. The admission of the accused cannot be gainsaid as there are no witnesses to the deed. The accused has actually not always described the circumstances exactly as indicated above.
Whilst his statement at his first police interview and at the judicial interview of 9.1.1960 corresponds with his present admission, he declared in his statement of 13.1.1960 that he knocked the pistol out of Reinherz’s hand and shot him in the confusion, and in his written descriptions “Bridge to Freedom.”
It is said that he touched the trigger by accident. But the Court has followed his original statement made to the judicial protocol, as his later explanations (shot in the confusion) are not totally in contradiction the more so as the accused in his descriptions of the events of that time, tends to embroider his experiences with dramatic effects that cannot be proved. His statement that the trigger went off by accident has been regarded by the Court as an attempt to weaken the case against the accused and it has played no part in the grounds for the judgement.
Therefore according to the accused own admission there were no actual circumstances of self-defence. But he is not to be blamed for believing that they existed. The error of the accused is not based on neglect, because it had been reported to him that Reinherz had a pistol. Reinherz had not handed over the pistol despite being asked several times. He had also given no explanation for why he had a pistol and what he intended to do with it. He furthermore drew the pistol on the command “Hands up.”
He could have put his hands up without pulling the pistol out of his pocket. In these circumstances it is not because of neglect that the accused believed in error that he was about to be unlawfully attacked by Reinherz. The accused is therefore acquitted in this case because of lack of evidence.
2. The accused is further charged (number 8 of the opening decision) with having shot in August 1943 at a sizeable crowd of Jews and thereby killed a not ascertainable number of these Jews.
The crowd would have entered a secret Jewish camp because of a fire and the then commandant of the concentration camp Krakau and his command shot blindly into the crowd and the accused is supposed to have shot with his pistol on the orders of this concentration camp commandant. The accused has in fact confessed in his statement to the arresting judge that he shot at the fleeing Jews on the orders of Göth but that he did not intend to kill them.
In the main procedure he has explained that he only fired a few warning shots in the air and only when he pursued the one-eyed Jewish elder, who was responsible for the burnt-down barracks. It is not possible to gainsay these admissions as no witnesses are available. The witness Moniek Olmer has said in the main process that he only knows of the events described in the opening decision under number 8 by hearsay.
This is not sufficient to convict the accused.
The witness Leon Macarz has informed us that the accused shot 21 Jewish men with a machine gun in camp Plaszow the day after the fire in the Kluck barracks and that these men had to undress first. Macarz saw this through the window of his barracks. If one compares this event as described by the witness with that contained in the opening decision, then it is clear that they are not the same events (during the fire , shooting at fleeing Jews outside the camp – shooting of undressed Jews inside the camp.)
Therefore the event described by the witness Macarz is different from the one dealt with in the opening decision under number 8. According to S 264 Sec 1 StPO it is therefore not possible to reach a decision in this connection. As already indicated above the accused must be acquitted under number 8 of the opening decision because of lack of evidence as there is no proof of either murder or attempted murder.
3. The accused is further charged (number 13 of the opening decision) with having shot behind the barracks in camp Plaszow 10-15 men and children who had been delivered to the camp because they had hidden themselves or possessed papers proving Aryan descent. The accused denies having done this.
The witness Szmul Szmulewicz has only been able to assert that he heard in conversation with other camp inmates that the accused had shot some Jewish camp inmates because they had papers proving Aryan descent, and that he had known people who had buried these persons.
He himself has however neither heard nor seen the shootings, nor has he seen the corpses. The Court is not able on this basis to reach the conclusion that the accused carried out these shootings or had them carried out by others, if they happened at all. The accused was therefore acquitted because of lack of evidence.
The witness Szmul Szmulewicz has given evidence of an event expressly described as another case, namely that he at another time once saw from the post barracks that the accused and 2 guards one evening went away with 10-15 Jewish men and he later heard shooting. He did not see who was shooting. He also did not see any corpses. This which he expressly describes as a matter other than that described under number 13 in the opening decision, is not part of the charges, so that – without going into the question of whether the accused has done anything punishable in this case – cannot for this reason alone be the subject of a judgement.
4. Finally the accused is charged (number 18 of the opening decision) with having shot behind the barracks at the beginning of 1943 in camp Prokoczim (Julag II) 5 women aged between 35 and 40 years, whom he had selected from the women’s barracks. He has admitted that these women had fled from camp Pirschamo (Julag III), which came under SS- Unterscharfuhrer Ritschek, into camp Prokoczim (Julag II) and that Ritschek had seen them there and had shot them after he had found them.
Based on the believable statements on oath by the witnesses Markus Lipshutz, Samuel Wolf and Joachim Kuppermann it has been established that 5 women were shot then in camp Prokoczim (Julag II). The witnesses saw it with their own eyes while the witness Rosa Dziewienski and Cacilie Dziewienski only heard from other camp inmates that these women had been “put down.”
Because of the statements of the above mentioned witnesses Markus Lipschutz, Samuel Wolf and Joachim Kuppermann it is however clear that the accused was not present at the shootings. But the witness Samuel Wolf did hear from other camp inmates that it was the accused who had selected these women in advance, but he was not present.
As it has not been established and therefore is not clear whether this in fact was the accused and not perhaps Ritschek, it has not in the view of the Court been proved that the accused has caused the death of the 5 women. The accused was therefore also in this case acquitted because of lack of evidence.
The accused has been convicted on 15.12.1945 by a Soviet Military Tribunal and given 25 years forced labour. This does not prevent another judgement in Germany (cf Schwarz, StOP comm. 3 to S 153b) even if the judgement at that time has been based on the same facts as those now in question.
This is not however proved according to information received from the USSR embassy in Germany. Because in accordance with that information he was not charged with crimes against Polish Jews during his time with a troop not at the front, but he was charged with crimes against the Soviet people during the war with fascist Germany.
Doubts regarding whether he is being charged again with the same matters go against him: the principle that “doubts are to be resolved in the accused favour” is not valid here (cf Schwarz StPO, comm. 2 A C to S155). Insofar as the accused is to be punished for murder, incitement of murder and abetting murder the 20 year term according to S 67 has not yet expired. And the term for manslaughter was interrupted by the interview on 9.1.1960.
There has therefore been no lapse of term. For murder and incitement to murder the law only envisages a prison sentence for life. The accused has therefore been condemned in each of 22 cases of murder and in each of 58 cases of incitement to murder to prison for life.
In the cases in which the accused only received the punishment for abetting murder the law does not require a life prison sentence. For sentencing in these cases as well as in the cases of manslaughter, in addition to the above comments on the personality of the accused, the Court took into account the following;
The accused is cold and a person without self-control. He has given some examples of his lack of control during the main proceedings. He is not without a certain arrogance and presumption, whilst on the other hand he attempted familiarity with some witnesses.
Whilst at the beginning of the proceedings he gave the impression – after he had confessed to cases unknown until then- that the great guilt weighed on him and that he wanted to make a clean breast of it, he showed later in the main proceedings in a stubborn, unreasoning and uninformed manner that he was not prepared to atone.
No word of regret for his victims came over his lips, no shock was expressed as to how it had been possible at all for him to commit such deeds. The only expression of feeling in the unemotional accused came when he became indignant at the witnesses accusations.
There was no trace of genuine repentance or understanding of the terrible result of his activities whilst he was in charge as camp commandant. Wallowing in war memories was more important for him. The accused is hot-tempered and easily excited, he has still not got rid of the barrack-room manner which is typical of his personality. But the accused is only moderately intelligent and to a certain extent without critical faculties.
He was therefore exposed more than many others to the propaganda of the time. He has also from the beginning pleaded guilty to some cases – partly totally unknown – and has no previous convictions. It was certainly also a twist of fate that he of all people was made camp commandant, on the other hand he had at least the possibility to avoid this duty by volunteering for the front.
Furthermore the fact that he in some cases (e.g. case number 15, 16 and also number 9 of the opening decision) took action on his own initiative although these cases were nothing to do with him, proves that he did not mind his position as absolute lord over life or death of the Jews.
His duties were therefore not so unpleasant to him as he now wants us to believe. The accused was a prisoner of war in Russia until 1955. That time cannot be counted as part of the time to which he has been condemned as it cannot be proved that he was convicted for the same actions, and adding to a life sentence would be conceptually out of the question.
But the Court has considered this long incarceration as prisoner of war as mitigating and to be taken into account. According to the personality of the accused and the culpability of his deeds the Court therefore impose the following sentences as justified, sufficient and necessary:
Of the prison sentence an increase to the maximum sentence of 15 years prison was imposed. In this connection the Court has taken into account the time already served whilst he was being examined under arrest.
This could not be taken into account in the case of the life sentence.
The accused loses his rights as a citizen for life.
Landgericht – Schwurgericht Mosbach (Baden)
Holocaust Historical Society
U.S National Archives
Special thanks to Robin O’Neil
Copyright. Chris Webb H.E.A.R.T 2008