Sunday, November 08, 2009

War-time German document mentioning Auschwitz gassings: testimony of Eleonore Hodys

Eleonore Hodys was a non-Jewish Auschwitz inmate. She became commandant Hoess' lover, and when he found out that she was pregnant, apparently he ordered to have her locked into a bunker cell so she could die of starvation.

Hodys was somewhat lucky in that SS Judge Konrad Morgen and his colleague Gerhard Wiebeck were investigating corruption in Auschwitz at about the same time. In autumn of 1944 they found and interrogated Hodys. She testified against Hoess.

Her very long and extremely detailed official statement survived the war. The original is in Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte. The English translation was published in 1945 book Dachau and in 2003 in Dachau liberated. Apparently the document was handed over to the Americans by Wiebeck, who had prepared the statement (see Hilberg's Destruction..., 1985, p. 579n25; he relies on Wiebeck's testimony, NO-2330). Why it was published in the book about Dachau I have no clue. Perhaps just as a general illustration of Nazism. And the editors of the 2003 tome had no clue about who E.H. was and simply reprinted the statement, thinking it was a testimony of a Dachau prisoner about her time in Auschwitz.


Konrad Morgen confirmed the authenticity of the statement during the Nuremberg trial:
Q. Very well. Do you know the document "SS Dachau" which I submitted to the Tribunal yesterday, and which I should like to designate as Exhibit SS 4? Do you know this document? Answer yes or no.

[The book is actually called "Dachau", but there are large letters "SS" on the cover. -SR]

A. Yes.

Q. On Page 46, there is the testimony of a Mrs. E. H. Was this testimony made before you as the investigating judge?

A. Yes, this was a Mrs. Eleanore Hodis, a prisoner in Auschwitz; I questioned her under oath.

Q. And did you examine the document and make certain this was the evidence which the woman gave? Yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. In the autumn of 1944.

Q. The testimony is against Hoess?

A. Yes.

Q. Were proceedings then instituted against Hoess?

A. Yes. The testimony was submitted to Hoess in the original.

Q. The testimony concerns conditions in Auschwitz. Is that true?

A. Yes.

Q. It is not true that it concerns the situation in Dachau?

A. No.

It so happens that during her interrogation Hodys mentioned gassings in Birkenau. Below I present a long excerpt from her official war-time statement (courtesy of D. Hebden; from Dachau liberated). The part about the gassings is in bold font.

Commandant Hoess and E.H.

SS Obsturmfuehrer. I already met the C.O. as I was brought in Auschwitz. He or the Hauptsturmfuehrer Schwarz used to ask newcomers if there were typists amongst them, whatever their profession. I gave mine as a helper of a drugstore. The M.D., Van Brodemann wanted to have me for the hospital. Obersturmfuehrer Hoess then let secretary Langenfels give me a room all to myself in Block 4. A few days later I was ordered by Obersturmfuehrer Mueller to the C.O. because an artisan was wanted. I was received in the house by the C.O.'s wife, who in the hall showed me a carpet and asked me if I could mend it. I undertook the job and worked at it for two days. During this time I often saw the C.O. coming and going. He asked me if I were H. and put no other question to me. He remarked that properly he should not employ a political prisoner in his house, but his wife had various jobs for me. I then prepared two tapestries, a tapestry cushion in silk, a car rug and various blankets. I liked to work in the C.O.'s house, as far as keeping up of the entrance lists allowed me the time. I still spent the night in camp. As long as I worked in the house, I was fed there. I ate alone in a room and the same food as the C.O. himself.

The food consisted of soup, entree, meat, vegetables, and pastries or cakes, fruit salad and coffee. It was extremely good and compared favorably with the menu of a big hotel in peace time. The two Jewish tailor girls (whose names I forget) who worked in the house got the same food. One of them is still alive. I talked with her a few days before I was sent to Munich. These two girls worked from 1942 onwards, until three or four months ago, uninterruptedly in the C.O.'s house. Where the C.O. or his wife secured this amazing quantity of material or clothes, I don't know, as the C.O.'s wife went very plainly dressed, one could say almost too plainly dressed. The C.O. soon took a special interest in me. It did not strike me at first, but my fellow prisoners soon drove to my notice the fact that the C.O. was strikingly interested in me. The C.O. had me called to him each time he came in the camp, or he came himself to the place where I worked.

He talked of business, but laughed at the same time in a particular way. I answered in the same way because I must confess that I liked him as a man. Apart from the frequent business talks, he did all he could to favor me and make my detention lighter. In the first room I occupied there were three other women. As the C.O. learned this, he ordered Hauptsturmfuehrer Aumeier to prepare a special room for me on the floor of Block 4. I could decorate this with my own furniture and real carpets. On weekends I got a furlough on parole and could also move about freely in the town of Auschwitz and could stay out the night. In these cases I used to sleep in the buildings of the staff, outside the camp. The C.O. also saw me often smoke, which was forbidden to prisoners, and never said anything. When I wanted to hide the cigarette, he told me not to trouble. I also got permission to have a personal cook and a maid for my personal needs. Witness for this is SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Aumeier. On my birthday, a special feast was organized for me in the C.O.'s house. The people in camp believed at first that I was related to the C.O. and asked me about it.

The C.O. expressed his particular feelings for me for the first time as in May 1942, his wife being out, I was in his villa, sitting by the radio. Without a word, he came to me and gave me a kiss. I was surprised and frightened, escaped him and locked myself up in the toilet. There were too many obstacles between him and me on account of his position and the fact that he was married. From then on, I did not come in the C.O.'s house any more. I reported myself as sick and tried to hide from him when he asked for me. Though he succeeded time and again in finding me, on this [these] occasions, he did not talk of the kiss. I was only twice more in his house before my birthday, by order. Then once on my birthday. Then he sent the SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Mueller to tell me that I was free on Sunday and I should bathe, have my hair dressed, put on my best clothes and call on his wife on Sundays. At the end of September his wife told me I need not come any more for the time being, as the C.O. was sick in Bielitz and she was with him. Two or three days later, the Supervisor Drechsel took the work away from me.

A fortnight later, I was sent to the S.L. As reason, I was told I had committed some infraction in the C.O.'s house. Thereupon I wrote a letter to the C.O., another to his wife and another to his cook, the prisoner Sophie Stippl. In these, I explained the facts and asked them to take no account of rumors and to do something for me. As an answer, the next day at 1:30 p.m. I was transferred to the Kommandanturarrest. This was on October 16, 1942. On this day, I should have entered the hospital as Chemist, because a month before the deputy SS head M.D. had come in the camp and had hinted at my liberation and removal to a hospital on the East Front. I pointed out that on account of my long detention, my nerves wouldn't stand it. Then the M.D. said that I must work in the SS Hospital in Auschwitz. I was to train at once in the prisoners' hospital before I went into quarantine. Still on the same day, about 8:30 p.m., Injection Heini came to fetch me. I refused to work with Jewesses and remarked that I needed no training. Then came the SS Obersturmfuehrer Kraetzer and said I could spend my quarantine in camp, as I was quite healthy anyhow. During this four weeks quarantine in camp, I should train nurse, prisoner, Gerturd Malorny. This I did. I was brought to the K.A. by supervisor Hasse. As we passed by the sentry, she told him: "this one shall not come back." No one could or would give me the reasons for my arrest.

Until January 1943, I was quite well in K.A. Usually I had a one-person cell, provided with a good bed and mattress. I had a table and a stool, could read, write and smoke. I wrote two or three times to the C.O., through the political direction (SS Obersturmfurhrer Grabner), and asked for the reason of my detention. I never got an answer. During this time, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Aumeier, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Schwarz and SS Obersturmfuehrer Grabner came occasionally to see me. They told me my case depended directly upon the C.O. I was all right. And then they would laugh.

The Relationship turns Sexual

According to my recollection, on December 16, 1942, about 11 P.M. I was already asleep, suddenly the C.O. appeared before me. I hadn't heard the opening of my cell and was such frightened. It was dark in the cell. I believed at first it was an SS man or a prisoner and said, "What is this tomfoolery, I forbid you." Then I heard "Pst," and a pocket lamp was lighted and lit the face of the C.O. I broke out, "Herr Kommandant." Then we were both silent a long time. As I had composed myself, I thought something evil was afoot and asked: "What is wrong?" Then Hoess spoke his first words, "You are coming out." I asked, "Now, at once?" He answered once more, "Pst. Be very quiet, we'll talk it over" and sat at the foot of my bed. I reminded him I had written to him and why didn't I get an answer, and why was I under arrest? He didn't answer this, but asked if I wasn't all right, he had done everything to improve my condition, and did I need anything. Then he moved up slowly from the end of the bed and I tried once more to kiss me. I defended myself and made some noise. He then warned me to be quiet, nobody knew he was there. I asked him how he had come in, and if no one had seen him. He told me he had come through the garden door and had unlocked the door himself.

I was again very irritated and told him that my liberation from prison had been arranged for the 16th of October and that I should have been working for a long time in the SS hospital. He answered that my liberation was approved, but he did not know that I was supposed to work in the SS hospital. He answered that he would first have to look in the Acts, because he had been ill and this was his first time back in the camp, and he came directly to me. I asked him then why he came at night. I told him that he could see me during the day, in the Kommandanteure. I did not lose the idea of being executed. The SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Hoss [Hoess] told me I could be quite unconcerned. I was under his protection and he only came to talk alone without disturbing me.

He asked me then why I was always so reserved with him. I told him that as Kommandant, he was for me a respectful personality and that he was married. He said then I should not worry, that he knew what he was doing. He requested me to be his friend. Then he tried again to kiss me and was somewhat sweeter. During all that time I was very anxious, listening and looking at the door that was open, because I could not forget that somebody was staying outside. The Kommandant was not allowed to go alone in the camp. Therefore I could not believe that he came alone to me. I insisted again that he should go away. Finally he went away and told me that I should think about it and that he would come back. I said then, "But please not during the night." He closed the door very quietly and one could hear the noise of boots from cell 26 where I was. I did not hear the outer gate close or the front door. These doors were always shut during the night.

Two nights later, again a few minutes after 11 o'clock as he had told me, he came again. He asked me if I had made a decision. I said, "No, I didn't want to," and I told him, "All I wanted was to be released." He said then that he had prepared everything. He had arranged a nice room in a very beautiful house. To my question as to when I would finally be released, he answered that I would see it very soon. Then we had a very long talk for two hours on personal questions. He did not say anything about himself. He asked me about my life and my family situation, which were not in my records. At the end he tried again to be friendly. I resisted and made him wait saying that the door was open and that somebody could always come. He said that I should not worry, that nobody would come. I didn't let that influence me, and he went away in a nasty temper.

The following day was Sunday. In the morning he made a Bunker inspection. Then I had to go in another cell that one could open and shut from the inside. It was, if I remember correctly, Cell #6. Some days later, he came again during the night. He asked then if he should go away. I said "no." He asked me what I had to say. I told him he knew what I had to say. Then he came to me in bed, and we had sexual intercourse.

Some days later he came again. This time he undressed himself completely. At midnight there was [an] alarm. I think something was on fire somewhere in camp. Outside in the hall the light was turned on. One could hear the steps of Gehring. Hoss [Hoess] hid himself naked in the corner behind the door, and I hid the uniform in bed. During these moments the light went on a short time. Gehring looked through the spyhole and put the light out immediately. When everything was quiet, Hoss [Hoess] put his clothes on and went outside but came back soon and said he could not go out of the camp because there was too much movement. He stayed then with me until after one o'clock.

The following times he did not undress again. He just made himself comfortable. All in all we had four or five nights of sexual intercourse. His interest in me did not seem to lag. We had later still some conversations together. I brought up the subject of my liberation once again. He said I had to have patience. He had started an inquiry against the Superintendent, Miss Hartman.

When he came to me the following time, I asked occasionally what would happen to me if he was discovered. He said I ought to deny it and asked me if I would do it. I swore silence. He gave me then the advice, if more was asked, to say that a prisoner had come to me. I replied that I did not know any prisoners. He thought he knew that more SS men and nice looking Capos had interest for me. Then he asked what I had with Flichtinger [Fichtinger]. I told him that he had written me and that I had answered him telling him not to annoy me. Then he asked if it was an affair of a nice Capo. I described him as being small and not completely to my taste. His advice was then that I should indicate Fichtinger. I did not like to indicate Fichtinger, but he thought I could do it quietly. For me nothing would happen if I had relations with a prisoner. He took a sheet of paper out of his notebook, and I had to give him, in the light of his flashlight, a written declaration that I had acquaintance with the prisoner Frans Fichtinger. This paper he put in a small leather book. Hoss [Hoess] did not give me anything, but he lost once by me the strap of his gloves. A strap with a button where the Nappa is. This strap I keep in my luggage.

Those conversations were the occasion that, during the night of the fire, the prisoner SS man Eduard Lockhauserbaumer who was in a cell near to mine (prisoners presence there subsequently checked in prison files) heard the sound of the boots on the pavement and looked outside his cell and saw Hoss [Hoess], but he had taken him for Obersturmfuhrer Schwarz. He spoke to me about him from cell to cell.

E. H. Becomes Pregnant

During his last visit, the Kommandant said he wanted to come back to me. But soon afterwards at the beginning of February I had a very severe attack. Always before it had gone away. I thought it was a gallstone attack. This diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Stassel, Bunkerdoctor. In the evening I had a second attack with terrible vomiting. Then the prisoners' doctor came, Dr. Doring. After examination he told me carefully, "You are pregnant." The following day he came again and examined me thoroughly. He established the fact definitely that I was pregnant eight weeks. He asked me who was the man. I told him I could not answer and asked him not to say anything about it. I urged him at the same time to help me. Therefore, the following day a janitor at the Bunker, I think Teresiak, handed me through the window two medicines. I took one. As I got terrible pains, I threw the second away. Dr. Doring did not come anymore. After this attempt at abortion I was taken into a special cell of the dungeon, which is a small dark hole and only very little air can pass into it. Otherwise it was quite dark. One can just stand in that hole or stay on the knees to have a change of the position.

The next morning, when Gehring came to fetch me, I was completely naked as I had been washing. Just as I was finishing, Gehring took me along; he only allowed me to put on an apron. Witness of this is Rottenfuhrer Muller. I had to stay in the above described cell all the time. I was not told the reason. When I was in the dungeon, I got terribly afraid and started crying for which Hannes had to pour several buckets of water on me. The reason why I cried so terribly was because there was a dead body in the cell which I could feel in the darkness.

I was taken out of that cell and was put into the next one. As I continued crying, once more several buckets of water were poured on me. The first days, I received the normal quantity of internees' food. After that I only got some bread and coffee and each fourth day I received some cooked food. For a period of nine weeks I had no possibility to wash myself, and the last 17 days there was no using the W.C. I had to do this in my cell.

During the imprisonment I asked Rottenfuhrer Muller to bring me some clothes as I felt very cold. He advised me to talk to Gehring. Gehring turned up several times, opened the little hole and called "old cow, hysterical goat," when I asked him for a drop of water. He expressed surprise several times that I had not died yet.

(Note of interrogator: while talking of these things she became rather excited. One can clearly see how terrible the reminder of this time affects her.)

As far as I can remember it must have been winter time when I was in that cell because Gehring gave orders to cut off the steam heat for my cell. About that time also, Obersturmfuhrer Grabner and Hauptsturmfuhrer Aumeier were in front of my cell. The door of my cell was not quite closed, which enabled me to see those two. I could also hear that they spoke in front of Herman Roman's cell and when Roman asked them to save his life, Aumeier just replied, "you will die you dog." I had to vomit and felt better after that.

After my release from this special cell, I asked the neighbor of the next cell how to manage an abortion. This was about April or May in 1943. Miss (Mrs.) Regenscheidt told me to get hold of a long needle with which I should open the ovary and put green soap inside. The above-mentioned Kurt Muller brought me those things along as I told him I needed it for my washing. With the support of a mirror I started trying it with the result that I lost a lot of blood and the spot became rather swollen. The whole trial was without any result.

I believe it was the 26 of June when I was released, the very same day when the execution of the Jewess Zimmerspitz took place. When Aumeier gave the order to get out, I also entered the corridor. Obersturmfuhrer Grabner, when he saw me, said, "for heavens sake that is N," and I was sent back into the cell. To Aumeier he said, "she will be sent back into the camp." This order was given by the commander. She will be sent to Buddy as Blockalteste (in charge of a barracks).

Instead of that I was sent back into the punishment company where Oberscharfuhrer Tauber received me. He said I got here by special order of the commander and would have all advantages. I got into the hospital, where I received something which managed the abortion. In the punishment company I was allowed then to stay in bed for ten or twelve days.

Her Pregnancy Investigated

After my convalescence I worked three months as a janitress. After that I was in charge of the kitchen and had to go into the hospital again on account of bronchitis. Before my release I got typhus. Ever since I am in the hospital waiting to be transferred to Munich.

On the 12th of July I was supposed to be sent to Munich as the whole hospital was cleared out. That was in 1944. Only five old Jewish women and myself stayed. Obersturmfuhrer Hessler intended to put me in the dungeon until I was sent to Munich. When I refused, he got [an] order from the commander that I will be taken into the new barracks for the time being.

While there the civilian employee, Dr. Gobel, of the Glauberg station, gave the order that I shall have to be sent to Birkenau for gas. In fact I was put together with the other Jewish women into the car, but in the very last moment the SS man in charge of the Glauberg station came and gave [an] order to bring me back again. The clerk of the hospital office, the internee Adolf Laatsch, assured me that Dr. Gobel put my name as the first one on the list of those who are going to pass the gas chambers.

I still have to point out that, in the presence of Prof. Glauberg and the Camp Commander, I had to meet Dr. Doring. Nobody else was present. I was asked whether I knew Dr. Doring. This question was put to me by the Camp Commander, Mr. Baer. Dr. Doring gave me a sign not to say anything and answered, "No, I do not know this woman," and I agreed that I did not know him. After this meeting I immediately said to Prof. Glauberg and the doctors that I did recognize Dr. Doring. Prof. Glauberg asked me why I did not say so before. I replied that I did not know the purpose of this meeting, and Dr. Doring immediately had said that he did not know me. Fifteen minutes later I wrote a note to Commander Hoss [Hoess] telling him about the meeting and declaration. A second note, which I sent to the Commander, said that Prof. Glauberg refused to take me into the new station, and I asked for orders from him.

Two or three days later, Hauptscharfuhrer Klausen was sent to me by the Commander to ask me whom I gave those letters to, as he did not receive same. Klausen advised me to hand him all the letters which I wanted to send to the Commander, so as to be sure that they would reach their destination. After that I was asked by the Commander to state any special wishes I had about food. I was allowed to write them on a list. I did so, and it was signed for agreement by the Commander.

The meeting with the Commander Hoss [Hoess] in the presence of the SS Judge Untersturmfuhrer Wiebeck took place as follows: I was asked by Wiebeck what enabled me to say that the Commander knew who was with me in the dungeon. I laughed, and the Commander said that this was quite unclear to him. He got rather excited and put his hand on the bed to steady himself. He confirmed also that I behaved very decently, and that I had been kept in the dungeon for my own protection. He did not know anything as to why I was kept in that little hole. To the contrary, he accused him [me] for not having said anything to him about that. When I was told that in January 1943 that Hoss [Hoess] refused my release from camp on account of very bad behaviour, I did not have any declaration for that.

About the fears which I had in connection with my transfer to Munich, I spoke to my fiancee, the already mentioned Fichtinger. He advised me under all circumstances not to mention the commander's name. I was also careful enough to put myself under psychiatric care for a period of six weeks. The certificate about this from the Polish camp doctor, as well as the written diaries about everything that happened, are in the possession of Fichtinger.

1 comment:

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

What was Hodys' Auschwitz prisoner number Sergy?