Sunday, June 17, 2007

Meet Karl Frenzel (3)

[Continued from Meet Karl Frenzel (2)]

II.2.2.2 Excess Killings

The criminal actions of which Frenzel was found guilty in this section of the judgment were considered by the court as not "just" being part of his eager and enthusiastic participation in the mass killings, but going beyond what Frenzel was supposed to do under the orders received and the camp’s regulations. Each of them was therefore held to constitute a separate count of murder in addition to Frenzel’s overall participation in the mass killings at Sobibor. Like Frenzel’s actions described in the previous part of this article, these cases of excess killings will be summarized mentioning, in each case, the charge, the court’s findings of fact, Frenzel’s defense allegations against the charge, the evidence that the court’s findings of fact were based on and eventual defense motions for counter-evidence as well as the court’s decision on such motions pursuant to Section 244 of the German Criminal Procedure Code.

a) Case no. 17

The charge: Sometime between May 1942 and October 1943, Frenzel killed a Jew lying among corpses, who was still alive. This Jew belonged to a transport from which most had died of hunger and exhaustion on the trip already. The witness Fr. found a Jew still alive among the corpses, lifted him up and tried to console him. Frenzel noticed this, hit Fr. in the face several times and shot the other Jew on the spot.

The court’s findings of fact: In the summer of 1942, on a date that could no longer be established, a transport with about 1,000 to 1,600 Jews arrived in the evening from the camp Majdanek. These people wore striped inmate clothing, and many of them had already died during the transport. As the gas chambers were temporarily defective, or had become defective after the gassing of a smaller part of this transport, the debilitated people were taken to a square between Camp I and Camp II, where they had to spend the night in the open. As instructed by the defendant Sch., the camp’s cook, Cuk., cooked soup for these people, who at first were completely apathetic, but upon seeing the food fought with each other to get some of it. In the night at least another 200 inmates from this transport died on said square, some from exhaustion but most due to mistreatment by the German overseers. These Jews were hit at random with boards and other objects, the already convicted G., now testifying as a witness, having excelled in this activity. Those still alive were gassed the following morning, according to general orders. The corpses of those who had perished in the night were to be transported to the pits in Camp III. For this purpose Frenzel put together a group of about 20 to 30 "working Jews" and ordered them to pull the corpses from the square to the lorry rails after undressing them. The witness Fr. was part of this detachment. After having for a while dragged a Jew he thought to be dead, he rested a bit, as neither Frenzel nor another German overseer was around watching him. At this moment the Jew thought to be dead rose and asked Fr. if they still had far to go. Fr. supported the Jew and continued walking with him in the direction of the lorry rail. When he had walked about 60 meters Frenzel appeared, saw that the Jew was still alive and hit Fr. with his whip. Fr. let loose of the Jew, who fell down and was shot by Frenzel with a pistol as he was lying on the ground. Frenzel acted out of arrogance towards the Jew considered racially inferior, and out of pleasure in killing. The camp regulations, which Frenzel exceeded through this act, would have required taking the exhausted Jew to Camp III to be killed there.

Frenzel’s defense: Frenzel denied this incident, claiming that a transport from Majdanek had only arrived in February 1943, shortly before Himmler’s visit, and that at this time he, Frenzel, had not been in the camp.

The evidence: The court’s findings of fact regarding this case were based on the witness Fr.’s testimony and on the corroborating statements of other witnesses and the defendant Sch. regarding the surrounding events.

Frenzel’s defense attorney argued that the witness Fr. was completely unreliable due to the following: Regarding his mother’s death he had made different statements. While he had earlier said almost nothing about the defendant Bol., he had provided numerous details about this defendant in the main proceedings. He had stated that on one occasion several Jews had been forced to carry a roof with Frenzel standing on top of it. This was a story for an anti-German film, for Frenzel wasn’t that stupid and also not suicidal. The witness had obviously read the witness Lic.’s account about Sobibor, and it was "remarkable" what he had made of it. Regarding Case 17 his prior deposition showed considerable differences in relation to his deposition in the main proceedings.

The jury court examined these allegations and other arguments provided in support thereof, but found that the witness Fr.’s testimony regarding this particular case was credible. The court justified its conclusions as follows: The killing of the Jew next to him had been described by the witness in essentially always the same manner, although much shorter during the investigation procedure than in the main proceedings, where he on two interrogation days had been subject to detailed cross-examination about this incident by the court, the prosecution and the defense. The witness’s deposition had not suggested an improving memory, which would have been suspicious, but the precise and boring questions about concrete details had brought these details back to him more strongly, as he had credibly pointed out. The witness had let nothing be asked into him, but openly admitted to memory gaps. It had therefore been expectable that more details became apparent in the main proceedings than from the pre-trial interrogation protocol. This did not speak against the witness, who had thereby shown that, when asked, he recalled even secondary details of the event. The court had gained the impression that the witness was very careful and tried to provide as accurate as possible an account, which together with the remaining contents of his deposition and his overall behavior had made him credible. It was especially the court’s conviction that the witness had not transformed Mrs. Lic.’s report into an account incriminating the defendant Frenzel and told no "absurd tales and anti-German film stories", as claimed by the defense, but honestly tried to tell the truth regarding this and other issues. Thus he had not only incriminated Frenzel but also stated that the kapo Bunio had still been alive on the day of the revolt. Despite being confronted with the testimonies of other Jewish witnesses, according to which Bunio had previously been killed by Frenzel, he had stuck to his express exoneration of Frenzel in what concerns the killing of Bunio. His deposition had also been indirectly corroborated by the depositions of other witnesses and by the defendant Sch. That a transport from Majdanek arrived at Sobibor in the summer of 1942 had been established on the basis of various witness testimonies, the defendant Sch. and the witness Cuk. having confirmed that Sch. had ordered making a soup on this occasion. The date claimed by Frenzel regarding the arrival of this transport, February 1943, had been refuted by the proven fact (discussed in connection with the charges against Sch. later in the judgment) that Sch. was in Sobibor only until mid-August 1942. It had also been confirmed by several witness testimonies that a part of the people on this transport had been beaten to death at night; this had already been established in the trial against Hubert G. (which is mentioned in the previous part of this article). All this supported Fr.’s account and disproved Frenzel’s defense allegations.

b) Case no. 21

The charge: Some time between December 1942 and October 1942, Frenzel grabbed a little child, which had been left behind in a railway car, by its feet and smashed it’s head against the railway car, killing the child.

The court’s findings of fact: In the former Polish post office building in the camp’s unloading area by the railway there was a Jewish girl who did the cleaning. One day at the beginning of 1943 this girl, with the competent German overseer’s authorization, took the witness Ra. to help her. As the visit of a higher superior had been announced, all was to be cleaned with especial thoroughness. While the two women were working in the house, a transport arrived and was unloaded at the ramp. As during the "processing" of transports only the station detachment, a part of the sorting detachment, the inmates in charge of receiving valuables and the "barbers" were allowed to be in the area outside Camp I, the two women dared not show themselves and hid in the house behind a curtain. During this time Mrs. Ra. watched the unloading of the transport 20 meters away through a window; between here vantage point and the site of the occurrence there were only a part of the garden and the ramp. Mrs. Ra. saw that a mother had left her little baby in the wagon when being taken away. Frenzel discovered the child in the car, grabbed it by the legs and forcefully smashed it against the wagon wall, so that the child’s head burst and the child was dead.

Frenzel’s defense: Frenzel denied this incident. He alleged that no one in the camp, including himself, had ever done a thing like that, or even thought about it. He further claimed that Mrs. Ra.’s account could not be accurate because she could never have remained in the former post office during a transport, and furthermore couldn’t have seen what was going on at the ramp from that building’s rooms at ground level, whereas the upper rooms had been locked. Frenzel’s defense attorney added that Frenzel could never have done a thing like that already because he had 5 small children himself at the time. The witness had described the event in a different manner on various occasions and claimed something she could never have seen as her own experience. She had also exaggerated regarding other issues and made contradictory statements. Earlier on she had purposefully and exceedingly incriminated Bauer and G. at their trials. In compensation procedures she had provided false affidavits in favor of Cuk., Pau. and C.-Z.

The evidence: The jury court based its findings of fact regarding this incident on the witness Ra.’s deposition in the main proceedings. It considered all allegations made against the witness’s credibility, in order to determine whether any of them or all of them together made Ra.’s description of this occurrence unreliable, and concluded that this was not so. The court justified its conclusions as follows: Mrs. Ra. had described this incident always in the same manner and incriminated none other than Frenzel. Contrary to what the defense had claimed, she had not blamed this occurrence on G. at his trial in 1950. While describing the occurrence in the main proceedings she had shown strong interior agitation, which had not been feigned but shown that the horror of this memory aroused her to this day. Furthermore the testimonies of members of the former station detachment (Mar. and Biz.) had shown that such killings of small children occurred frequently and were no rarity. It had also been proven that one could well see the ramp from the post office building and that, occasionally, auxiliary workers (like Mrs. Ra. several times later and Mrs. Kel. on one occasion) had been used for cleaning the post office building. The witness had generally made a controlled and objective impression while testifying, shown a good memory and by no means been inclined to incriminate all defendants without differentiation or to summarily incriminate Frenzel regarding all cases she testified about. Where she had been wrong, she had had no problem with admitting it. For instance, she had at first thought to have recognized the defendant Lac., who during Ra’s time in the camp (since December 1942) had no longer been at Sobibor. When the defendant Bol. had remarked that she probably meant Kaiser and Frenzel had intervened stating that Klatt was the one she was referring to, she had recognized her mistake, admitted it immediately and spontaneously confirmed that it had been Klatt, who had been a red-headed man as described by the witness. Regarding Frenzel, however, there was no doubt that the witness knew him and had recognized him and identified him as the perpetrator. The context of her previous statements at the trials against G. and Bauer had turned up no significant contradictions. It could also not be deducted from her read-out statements in various compensation procedures that she had ever unrightfully cast onto any participant the suspicion of a criminal deed.

Defense motions: In his final plea on 21 November 1966, Frenzel’s attorney applied for the court, in case a conviction of the defendant should be based on the witness Ra.’s testimony,

a) Interrogating the witness Ra. once more in the main proceedings and confronting her with her own statements in a compensation procedure, according to which she had not been hit by a grazing shot, for at the trial against Bauer and in the present trial’s main proceedings she had sworn that she suffered from the effects of a grazing shot;

b) Hearing Mrs. Regina C.-Z. as a witness about her never having been at Sobibor, although the witness Ra. had claimed that Mrs. Z. had been there and lost a kidney to a shot fired by Wagner.

Motion a) was rejected by the court on grounds that, as clearly became apparent from the files of Ra.’ compensation procedure and was known to the defense, the witness had since 1952 referred to suffering from hearing difficulties due to a "head shot" or a "grazing shot" on the head received during the escape from Sobibor, the consequences of which had been verified by medical examination and on account of which she received a rent of 189 German Marks per month from the West German state.

Motion b) was rejected on grounds that the fact to be proven by the evidence offered was without significance to the decision at this trial, given that i) the purpose of the trial was to establish whether the defendants, in this case Frenzel, were guilty of the charges stated in the indictment, and not whether Mrs. C.-Z. had been at Sobibor, and ii) Ra. had stated nothing whatsoever about Mrs. C.-Z. in her deposition at this trial, so that the question whether or not Mrs. C.-Z. had been at Sobibor had no bearing on the credibility of this deposition.

There remained the question whether the jury court was obliged to clarify the allegations regarding Mrs. C.-Z. ex officio in order in order to be able to finally assess the witness Ra.’s general credibility. This the court also denied on the following grounds: At an earlier stage of the trial, in a brief dated 27 June 1966, the defense attorney had referred to the compensation file of Mrs. C.-Z., according to which she had been at Sobibor from 20.12.1942 until the day of the revolt (14.10.1943) and this had been confirmed in affidavits provided by the witnesses Kel. and Ra. Mrs. C.-Z. had lost a kidney and attributed this to beatings she had received from Wagner, which had also been confirmed by Kel. and Ra. in their affidavits; a medical examination in the course of the compensation procedure had revealed that C.-Z.’s kidney had been lost due to a kidney tuberculosis that was not, however, found to have resulted from beatings. Thus there was no apparent contradiction between what C.-Z. had stated about her having been at Sobibor and her experiences there on the one hand and what R. had stated regarding Mrs. C.-Z. on the other. In the absence of an indication to the contradiction alleged by Frenzel’s defense attorney, the court did not consider it part of its clarification duty to pursue this allegation any further.

Another defense motion concerned the witness Mar., one of the witnesses who had corroborated Ra.’s deposition by confirming that killings of small children such as carried out by Frenzel had occurred frequently at Sobibor. As in case nº 34, (summarized in part 2 of this article), Frenzel’s defense attorney requested that Adam und Hela We. be interrogated as witnesses on their not having been at Sobibor, contrary to the witness Mar.’s sworn statement. This motion was rejected on grounds that the fact to be proven was without significance for the decision. The court stated that, while a testimony confirming the defense attorney’s allegations would have shown that Mar. had made a false statement under oath regarding the presence of the We. witnesses at Sobibor, this wouldn’t have made the witness Mar. altogether unreliable for the following reasons: Mar. had been interrogated for two full days, on 16 and 18 November 1965. His testimony had referred not only to single events, but to his whole time as a prisoner at Sobibor and all he knew about life and events at the camp from May 1942 to 14 October 1943. He had not been questioned in a uniform manner, but subjected to cross-examination by all participants. It could not be excluded under these circumstances and was even certain that the witness had made at least objectively incorrect statements regarding certain details; he for instance had provided objectively incorrect information about the witness Lac. On the other hand it had become strikingly clear during this questioning how the witness was rendering his own recollection, how despite criss-cross questioning he spontaneously said always the same regarding a given subject and how he, on the whole, provided a convincing account of his experiences that was mostly corroborated by other witness testimonies. Under these circumstances the court accepted as accurate his statement that Frenzel had often grabbed children by the legs and smashed their heads against the walls of the wagons, even if the witness could not individualize a particular case. As had become apparent from other testimonies, Mar. had credibly stated to have been a member of the station detachment and thus especially familiar with events at the ramp. As concerns the factuality and frequency of such occurrences – even if by German overseers other than Frenzel – his deposition also had not stood alone against the word of Frenzel, but been confirmed by the corresponding credible testimony of the witness Biz. Furthermore such occurrences fit well into the atrocious atmosphere in this camp, especially during the arrival of transports, as it had in ghastly forcefulness become apparent to the jury court throughout the long taking of evidence, also from the very reserved allegations and information provided by the defendants’ themselves. As referred in more detail later in the judgment, the defendant Frenzel had also not been someone who could not be readily expected to do something like that at Sobibor. What is more, Mar. had despite express confrontation with contrary testimonies by other witnesses interrogated in the main proceedings decisively exonerated the defendant Frenzel by giving him an alibi to the indictment case of the killing of kapo Moishe. An incrimination tendency in regard to Frenzel had not shown in this witness. Thus the requested interrogation of Adam and Hela W. was irrelevant, for even if these witnesses had stated what the defense claimed they would, the court would not have concluded that the witness Mar. was unreliable either generally or in regard to this specific case concerning Frenzel.

c) Case no. 22

The charge: One a day between Mai 1942 and October 1943, Frenzel ordered during the morning roll-call that a dying inmate who had slit his wrist be taken out of the barracks. Frenzel abused the dying man, hit him with the whip and then shot him in the presence of the other "working Jews".

The court’s findings of fact: In 1943, on a date that could no longer be exactly established, one inmate had in the night slit his wrist in order to take his life. At the morning roll-call he lay dying in the barrack, but was still alive. The incident was reported to the defendant Frenzel, who held this roll-call, by the kapo and the head kapo. Frenzel had the dying men carried on a blanket outside the barrack onto the roll-call square before the gathered working inmates, to whom he held a speech, stating that no Jew had the right to take his own life, for the decision about the Jews’ life and death was the Germans’ prerogative. Frenzel whipped the dying inmate and then shot him with his pistol in front of the inmates present, thus exceeding the camp orders according to which sick inmates no longer able to work were to be taken to Camp III to be killed there.

Frenzel’s defense: The defendant admitted to remembering this incident, but claimed to have reported the attempted suicide to the camp command (Reichleitner, Niemann or Wagner), according to regulations, whereupon the camp command had ordered to take the man on a stretcher to Camp III. This had then been done after the roll-call had been concluded and the work detachments had moved out.

The evidence: After the taking of evidence the court was convinced that Frenzel’s allegations had been disproved in the sense of the court’s findings of fact, based on the following considerations: Several witnesses had testified about the case and stated that a Jew had slit his writs in the barracks to commit suicide. This had been confirmed by the defendant Frenzel himself. Not all witnesses had known that Frenzel had given the speech and killed the Jew, but the witness Bac. had credibly described the case as it was established by the court. His account had been supported by the also credible account of Mrs. Saf. The also credible witness Fr. (see case no. 17) had also described this case and Frenzel’s speech, although he had no longer remembered the shooting for sure. While the witnesses He. and Rot. had stated that the Jew had already been dead when taken out of the barracks, these witnesses must have suffered from a memory failure or had the subjective impression that the man was dead already, for according to the defendant Frenzel’s own allegations the Jew had still been alive, even though moribund, when carried out of the barrack.

Defense motions: For the case that the witness Saf.’s statements were used to support a conviction, the defendant’s attorney applied for interrogation of the Israeli interrogating official Pal. about Mrs. Saf.’s not having, despite express questioning, provided any additional data about the camp staff’s members as compared to her statements in 1960, whereas in the main proceedings she had testified in detail against the defendant Wol.

This motion was turned down by the jury court on grounds that the claimed fact could be treated in the defendant’s favor as if it were true, without this leading to significant doubt about the witness Saf.’s having testified accurately in the case under assessment. The witness had in the main proceedings been first confronted with the question why during her interrogation by the Israeli police she had not mentioned this case, but instead a case (case no. 47, discussed in the next part of this article) about a Jew who had wanted to go "into the (electrical) wire". Thereupon she had convincingly admitted to have been mistaken back then, whereas she now could remember the case under assessment more exactly because during the detailed questioning in the main proceedings she had been confronted with much more details than during the previous, only very superficial interrogation by the police. As the deposition in the main proceedings had been essentially confirmed by those of other witnesses, there had been no reason not to accept it, despite the different earlier statements. These considerations were also justified in what concerns the statements incriminating the defendant Wol., as discussed later in the judgment in connection with the findings of fact regarding this defendant. Given here impressive behavior when testifying and the responsibly provided oath, in connection with the corroboration by other evidence, this circumstance did not, to the court’s conviction, affect the credibility of the witness’s testimony in the case under assessment.

d) Case no. 32

The charge: Some time between May and October 1943, Frenzel shot an eleven year old Jewish boy as punishment for the boy having taken away a can of sardines in oil.

The court’s findings of fact: On a day in about October 1943 Frenzel caught a Jewish boy of about 12 to 13 years by the name of Moniek, who was used as a shoe-shiner camp like other boys, in possession of a can of sardines in oil the boy probably intended to hide and eat in the evening. Frenzel pushed the boy to the sorting barrack, had several inmates busy with sorting objects – among them the witness Mrs. Eda Lic. – step out and required them to watch what he would do with the boy. Thereupon Moniek had to hold up the can in his hand. Frenzel yelled that Jews were not allowed to eat imported sardines. Thereafter he pulled his pistol and shot the boy in front of the other inmates. Frenzel acted in excess of orders and camp regulations, for in such cases a shooting could only have been carried out in Camp III if a beating had not been considered sufficient to keep up the "camp discipline".

Frenzel’s defense: Frenzel denied this case altogether. Frenzel’s defense attorney applied for acquittal on grounds that different cases of the shooting of a boy for possessing a conserve had been described but only the witness Lic. and her "circle of friends" linked Frenzel to this incident. The prosecution also applied for acquittal in this case, as it did not consider the witness Lic.’s testimony alone as sufficient to disprove Frenzel’s allegations.

The evidence: The jury court, after weighing all that spoke in favor and against the witness Lic.’s testimony, considered her credible in this respect and the case proved by her testimony. The court justified its conclusions as follows:
The defense had alleged that the witness was mixing up hearsay and her own experience and that, after having written down her experience at Sobibor, she believed that she had seen and experienced all she wrote herself. The prosecution had held that Lic.’s testimony could only be used with restrictions as she had been proven wrong regarding the dog Barry, stating that Barry had always been in the camp though this had not been so. While the latter objection against the witness Lic’s testimony was correct, Mrs. Lic’s testimony was nevertheless sufficient to disprove Frenzel’s allegations in this case. To be sure, Mrs. Lic. had not testified in person before the court, but she had been interrogated in great detail on two days by a requested Israeli judge in Tel Aviv in the presence of the jury court’s two assessor judges, who had been allowed to ask questions to the witness. The protocol of this interrogation, made on site in German language, had been read out in the main proceedings and sufficiently shown that the witness provided a differentiated description of events in the camp, which on the whole as well as in essential details coincided with what the jury court had learned from thoroughly questioning the witnesses present and the defendants and been able to check against, for instance, photographs and the map of the camp. The witness had by no means incriminated all defendants without differentiation, for her deposition contained no incrimination of the defendants Sch. and Unv. Had the witness followed an incrimination tendency, this would certainly not have been so, and there was also no indication that, as the defense had surmised, she had refrained from incriminating certain defendants in order to incriminate Frenzel all the more. The witness had also described this case in the same manner before and during her interrogation for the main proceedings. Her testimony had furthermore been generally supported by those of other witnesses interrogated in the main proceedings insofar as similar cases occurred quite often. The witness Symcha Bia. had described a case identical with the one described by Mrs. Lic. His testimony could only be used for corroboration purposes (i.e. no findings of fact could have been based on his testimony alone) because in regard to this witness there were considerable reservations as concerns his credibility. Many other witnesses had heard of similar cases in the camp; the witness He. had described a similar case, which had happened in 1942 and in which a boy 16 to 18 years old had been shot. If other witnesses had provided no description identical with that of Lic.’s, this did not speak against the correctness of Lic.’s description – she had, after all, seen the occurrence from close up – but showed the absence of an incrimination tendency on the part of these other witnesses, for if there had been a complot against Frenzel, such differences between accounts would have occurred least of all in a case like this. This also applied regarding the alleged collusion between the witnesses Lic. and Symcha Bia. While the latter witness alone did not comply with the court’s high requirements regarding the witnesses’ credibility, in connection with that of Lic. his account could be used as proof. A complot between Lic. and Symcha Bia. was out of the question insofar as the latter, according to his whole personality as it had become apparent during intensive cross-examination by all sides in the main proceedings, could impossibly have carried through such a complot without getting caught in major contradictions.

e) Case no. 35

The charge: Some time between October 1942 and October 1943, Frenzel shot a Jewish dentist on whom he had found food.

The court’s findings of fact: In Sobibor there was a Jewish physician by the name of (phonetically) Dr. Bresler (or Brösler, Breslau, Breslauer), who was from Kolo/Poland, had later lived in Izbica and was used for dentistry treatment of the camp’s German and Ukrainian staff. The witness Tho., who was used as a medic since about the beginning of 1943, obtained medical advice from Dr. Bresler, who was not supposed to treat the Jewish inmates but only the Germans and Ukrainians. On a day that could no longer be established exactly, between March and October 1943, Frenzel killed Dr. Bresler with a shot from his pistol, about 8 to 10 meters from the camp’s sorting barracks. The immediate cause for the shooting could no longer be clarified. Some said that Frenzel had found food on Dr. Bresler, but there was also the rumor that Dr. Bresler had hidden money in his shoe. Frenzel acted on his own initiative, beyond orders and camp regulations. After this dentist’s death there were two Jewish doctors of Dutch nationality left in the camp to treat the Germans and Ukrainians.

Frenzel’s defense: Frenzel disputed this case, alleging that there had been only two Jewish dentists taking care of the camp staff and both had lived until the day of the revolt. Frenzel’s defense attorney applied for acquittal on grounds that i) the witness Chajm Eng. had provided a generally contradictory and error-prone testimony, ii) the witness Tho. had lied, iii) both witnesses had made a complot against Frenzel, iv) the witness Bl.’s testimony was not suitable to support the other testimonies, v) the witness Pau.’s testimony had exceeded the limits of what was bearable and vi) someone, perhaps a white-haired woman among the public, had directed the depositions.

The evidence: The jury court accepted the witness Eng.’s testimony as accurate, on grounds that Eng. had in the main proceedings and in the pre-trial interrogations made his deposition without major differences, and that he had been very careful with incriminations, also of the defendant Frenzel, very cautious and obviously bent on stating only what he knew for sure. His behavior while testifying and the contents of his testimony had made him seem credible. He had watched Frenzel’s deed from a distance of 8 to 10 meters. His testimony was supported by those of the witnesses Tho. and Bl.. An incrimination complot was out of the question. Tho., who knew Dr. Bresler well from his activity as a medic, had already heard about Frenzel’s shooting of Dr. Bresler while in Sobibor. Contrary to what had been claimed by the defense, Tho. had never claimed that Dr. Bresler had survived Sobibor. According to a document read out Tho. had merely informed the World Jewish Congress that Dr. Bresler (Broessler) had been in Sobibor with his son and it was possible that one of the two had survived the camp. The witness Bl. had been a friend of Dr. Bresler’s son and known the former already before his time in the camp. He had also learned in Sobibor that Dr. Bresler had been killed there, though he had not seen the killing. Had the witnesses Tho. and Bl. made a complot to incriminate the defendant Frenzel, they could easily have "nailed" him with a testimony like Eng.’s, but instead they had clearly stated the different sources of their knowledge, Tho.’s source being another than Bl.’s. There was no indication that the testimonies were being directed by someone outside the proceedings. The testimony of the witness Pau., who on the whole was unreliable and not too bright, had not been taken into consideration. The witness He.’s testimony, according to which the overseer Wagner had once killed a Jewish dentist, did not speak against the accuracy of Eng.’s testimony, as the man killed by Wagner had clearly not been Dr. Bresler. The witness He. had not known the name of Wagner's victim and also not been familiar with Dr. Bresler, but he had known that the former dentist was from Lemberg. Dr. Bresler, on the other hand, had been from Kolo and come to Sobibor from Izbica.

f) Case no. 42

The charge: In January 1943 Frenzel killed the Jews Grüner, Kominkowski, Wolff and Stumzeiger with a club or a spade.

The court’s findings of fact: On about 23 April 1943 a transport with Jews arrived from Izbica at Sobibor. Among them were the witness Bl. with relatives and acquaintances of his. Frenzel selected about 30 to 40 Jews from the transport. Bl. had been chosen as a shoe-shiner. As it was known in Izbica that Sobibor was an extermination camp, many Jews urged Frenzel to pick them as workers, in order to avoid being immediately killed. Frenzel had held a long wooden club in his hand and hit the pleading Jews at random with this club, thereby killing at least the Jews named Grüner, Kominkowski, Stumzeiger and Posener, but probably even more, through blows on the head so hard that the brain matter of some came out of the skull.

Frenzel’s defense: Frenzel denied the occurrence and claimed that he had never hit anyone with a club or a spade, but only with a whip when the Jews had surrounded him clamoring that they be picked as workers. Frenzel’s defense attorney applied for acquittal on grounds that Bl. was completely unreliable as a witness; there was the suspicion in his case that all he had written about the Sobibor camp he had read but not experienced himself. The prosecution also applied for acquittal as it did not consider the witness Bl. alone sufficient to disprove Frenzel’s allegations.

The evidence: After weighing all circumstances that spoke against the witness Bl.'s reliability, the jury court accepted his testimony as accurate and considered the case proven by his testimony. The court justified its conclusions as follows: The witness Bl. had certainly been in Sobibor as an inmate and also seen what he had described in this case. While it was true that he had written several versions of a novel-style report and of a film script about Sobibor, which sometimes did not fully coincide with each other, this, as the witness had credibly stated, had been related to the filmic purpose pursued with each version. However, he had always described in essentially the same manner the killing of at least four Jews upon the arrival of his transport, though he had earlier also mentioned someone by the name of Wolff as having been one of those clubbed to death by Frenzel. The key indication that in this case Bl. was speaking the truth was the following: he had credibly testified that with this transport also his father had been taken to the camp and that his father had also been beaten by Frenzel, but may still have been alive when taken to Camp III on the lorry rail and thus killed in Camp III and not by Frenzel. It would have been easy for the witness to incriminate Frenzel with also having beaten his father to death on the spot. The fact that he had not done so but differentiated in such impressive manner had convinced the jury court of the credibility of his account. To be sure, Bl. had an interest, also from a business point of view, in clarifying the events at Sobibor, and he had after the war worked for some time for a historical institute in Poland. It was not known, however, that he had ever incriminated a German against better knowledge. A mistake in the case Grüner et al could also be ruled out as this occurrence had taken place immediately after his arrival at Sobibor and the names of the victims had been known to Bl., for they were from his hometown, where his father had been a man of some influence. Frenzel’s defense allegations had therefore also been disproved in this case.

Click here for the next part.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please read our Comments Policy