That which follows is the complete text of the document published by the Ministry of Information in "Documentary Notes and Studies" Number 140, from 8 September 1945. When a piece of information was subsequently corrected or seems excessive in light of historical research, I take the liberty of interposing a line in small blue characters.
Unfortunately, the majority of the details were common to the entire collection of camps: suspension from hooks, beating with whips, public hangings. I invite you to distinguish that which could strictly be regarded as discipline from the more extraordinary punishments of that camp.
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION
8 September 1945
Directorate of Information
27 du Mont Thabor, Paris (1st [Arrondissemont])
DOCUMENTARY NOTES AND STUDIES No. 140 ("NEW SERIES" AND COLLABORATION. IX) The concentration camp of Struthof (Bas-Rhin [Lower Rhine]) and the activity of the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg during the German occupation. I. OFFICIAL REPORT on the inspection at the camp of Struthof (Bas-Rhin) (1 January 1945)
The camp of Struthof is situated on the territory of the community of Natzwiller, 8 kilometers from the village, and served by the station of Rothau.
Built by the Germans in 1940 on a plateau, at 800 meters altitude, it has a capacity of 3,000.
At the liberation of Strasbourg, the German authorities of the camp were surprised, and all the files remained in place, as well as certain internees who were liberated.
It was established at that very hour, as much from testimonies as by the examination of files, that some atrocities were committed at Struthof.
I indicated previously that the camp includes an autopsy room, a crematory furnace, and a very well-organized infirmary. It possesses also a gas chamber, with interior lighting and glass portholes, a shower room and empty rooms serving for executions.
According to the Director of Information Services, who, assisted by a group of officers, was charged with identifying the French detainees who spent time in Struthof, it was established that:
1) In the autopsy room, vivisection operations were practiced (by Professor Hirth, head of the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg, from 1941 to 1944).
If by vivisection, one understands the practice of painful experiments without the use of anesthetics, that is true (for example the lesions caused by the application of mustard gas on the prisoners). But it was not sufficiently demonstrated to be sustained in justice that the dissection of living subjects - in the autopsy chamber - was practiced. The medical experiments took place elsewhere, for example in a special room of Block 5 which was built in 44.
It is necessary however to note that as many as EIGHT barracks out of fifteen (a record) were used as infirmaries, and this figure in and of itself leads one to think of experimentation, whether one speaks of vivisections or more simply of inhuman experiments. We will cite later the testimony of a prisoner having worked some time in one at Revier[?].
The document contains several errors of spelling of proper names (Hirth for Hirt, Haagen or Hagen for Eugen Hagen who embellished his name with a prefix of nobility[?], and of others that one will see later; one will even see there major spelling errors of common names, it is necessary not to forget that this part of the report was written in less than a month after the liberation of Strasbourg even before Auschwitz was liberated.
2) In the gas chamber, a trial of blister gas [mustard gas?] was was made upon 19 Jewish women, shut up together, previously undressed in front of the personnel, and whose agony lasted a quarter of an hour before the eyes of the doctors who followed the progress of the poisoning (the cries were heard by neighbors of the camp).
I have found nothing on this point. It seems probably to me that this would be a group of women having been gassed among the 86 victims of August 1944, and that this testimony was therefore confused with the set about the gassings intended for Hirt's specimen collection.
3) At the infirmary experiments were made in treating the sick, a designated medication was uniformly used during a month, no matter what the illness. After this period, no matter what effect was produced, the treatment was stopped and the sick left alone. The effect of the medications in each case was separately observed and recorded.
4) Beyond that, diseases were deliberately given to some healthy subjects as an experiment: notably a graft of cancerous tissue and there was found a report in which the camp doctor, who had demanded a shipment of a hundred Gypsies for an experiment, complained because only ten among them were able to carry it out. Fifty more Gypsies were, it seems, later sent.
I have no material about the cancerous tissue, but for the second point it concerns the experiments of Hagen on the vaccine against typhus, carried out on the Gypsies. He inoculated a virulent typhus strain into a control group of 40 unvaccinated subjects versus 40 vaccinated subjects and caused an epidemic of typhus in the camp which started before the vaccinations, but hit its strength with the virulent strain. This led to the protests of the SS who feared they would be likewise infected.
5) Operations of voluntary or forced sterilization were practiced every week: monthly statistics were recorded.
I have no more documentation on that, but there is no doubt that the experiments took place in Struthof or in the area of influence of the University of Strasbourg: see at the end of this document the medical report on the histological slides of testicles discovered at Strasbourg and showing the trace of injections that hardened them.
The charges levied at the time of the trial of the doctors of Struthof kept nothing but that which was incontestable and that which directly concerned the accused: the experiments with mustard gas having caused three deaths; the experiments on typhus; the experiments with phosgene gas and its antidotes; and finally the gassing of 86 Jews to assemble a collection of specimens. This does not disprove that other experiments took place, but the court was not able to state anything but proven facts other than isolated testimonies, and even if they were sufficiently proved, they had to be able at the same to be tied to the accused. This would be the exact inverse of the accusation always repeated by the "revisionists" of simple hearsay.
6) In the specially constructed chambers (sloping cement floor, with a center grille for drainage), some prisoners were executed by shots from a revolver in the back of the neck; the camp executioner received for each execution two deciliters of eau-de-vie, a piece of sausage and two cigarettes. This individual, who went mad at the 360th execution, was in turn executed.
The impact marks of numerous bullets were found on the floor of the basement room of the crematorium and even a bullet under the drainage grille.
7) The following corporal punishments were applied:
a) Distribution of blows of a blackjack; the internee was placed on a sawhorse after having initially been doused with cold water to make the skin more susceptible. He received the blows in the presence of other internees, naked, passing before him, and obliged to sing during the operation. After a certain number of blows, the unconscious patient was thrown in a bath of ice water, and, if he did not come to, was carried to the morgue and to the crematory furnace.
b) Hanging by the arms tied behind the back, to some hooks placed in a constricted chamber, into which a duct drew hot air; the patient, shoulders dislocated, rarely survived a prolonged heating. Finally, one notes that the crematory furnace, which burned the bodies placed on a metallic carrier, heated, in use, the shower apparatus used for the preparation for beatings.
It is true that the crematory furnace was equally able to heat water, but it was an auxiliary system. The camp was sufficiently provided with normal water heating, and the image of the SS taking showers with water heated by the crematoria was too often made too much of, to the point that the "revisionists" had great fun making use of the aspect of caricature it provided.
The ashes of the bodies were not always disposed of in urns (they burned up to five or six bodies at a time): they were, at some time, spread in the camp garden; some charred bones were retrieved from there. The commander had them gathered and placed in a funeral urn.
8) Finally, after some attempts at escape, any internee killed by a guard earned him special privileges for five days. It is proved that, in a fair number of cases, some internees were killed for having, under order of the barracks chief, passed a few meters beyond the security perimeter of the camp, which permitted the guardian to earn a reward. It was also established that, after an internee displeased the head of a Nazi barracks, he was invited, by his room leader, to hang himself, and numerous cases of suicide were recorded.
The commander determined that the camp contained up to 7,000 internees at a time, broken into four groups:
There were 7,000 prisoners in the last period, when camps were consolidated. The expected capacity was 1,500. It started at 2,000, then the average was 4,000. The detainees sometimes left in external work details where they remained: the work details of Neckar where the N.N. [sic] were not able to go and the external detail farther away of Wurtemberg, those of Vahingen where were found 1,500 cadavers of deportees buried in common ditches. Towards the end 14,000 detainees worked in 18 external details. Certain authors enumerated 70 external details, working for Messerschmidt, Daimler-Benz, AEG, etc.
The sequence for setting up an external work detail was always the same: at first they send about ten detainees to prepare the place, then, once the barracks-stables were installed and the enclosure finished, they sent the rest of the requested workers.
This is exactly how Struthof itself was created: initially 150 prisoners were sent, principally drawn from the German political prisoner camps, then at least 150 others; these prisoners had to dig the terraces of Struthof (the camp is on a slope) in the sandstone and the roads leading towards the camp or towards the quarry; these prisoners were lodged in the stable of the farm of Struthof. Once the camp was finished and its double enclosure electrified to 500 volts, the other prisoners arrived.
The work was extremely hard and the prisoners did not survive it. One of the roads of Struthof is even called "the road of a thousand skulls." The inhabitants of the region preferred to call the camp the camp of "Struthof" (this name was only a place name for the farm hamlet) in place of the normal name of "Natzweiler" which is the name of the community.
1. Those convicted of common offenses.
2. Political prisoners.
3. Conscientious objectors
The Jews were in fact very few in number. The camp initially opened with German common criminals, then the politicals (particularly those relevant to the "Nacht und Nebel" decree).
The French who were interned in the camp were considered political prisoners. Among them figured General Frere, who died in the camp at 62 years of age, officially of diphtheria, but according to the commandant, seeming to have succumbed to a medical experiment.
II. TESTIMONIES AND INQUESTS
1. Testimonies of former detainees
We reproduce below the testimony taken about the camp of Struthof by the former detainees and guards. We leave to this document, communicated by the War Crimes Service, the simple and unpolished form of direct testimony. (1-14).
The detention camp, called Struthof, was constructed near Natzwiller in 1941-1942, on the location of a ski slope, on the side of a mountain of 850 meters.
The camp is surrounded by a double enclosure of barbed wire and electrified, a height of 4 meters, containing a circular path dominated by the turrets of watchtowers. In the circular path, swept [?] during the night by searchlights, circulated SS men accompanied by dogs.
Number of SS: from about 250 to 400.
In the interior of the enclosure was found a series of wooden barracks capable of containing 160 persons each, a special barracks with rooms for torture, for autopsy, a crematory oven and another barracks containing a gas chamber.
The phrase is more than ambiguous: the gas chamber was outside the enclosure by several hundred meters (see later). One knew it forcefully after the editing of the report which did not satisfy in the kinds of details that so much interest the "revisionists."
The number of detainees varied constantly, going from 3 to 6,000, as much Russian as Polish, French, and even Germans.
Regime of the camp
Food. Food was not in abundance. The former guard of the camp Jean Ehradt declared: "They gave the detainees in the morning after reveille (in summer 4:30 AM, in winter 5:30), a little coffee without sugar or bread; at 9AM, about 100 grams of bread with a little margarine; at noon, as in the evening, 150 grams of bread and a soup that was nothing more than water. Moreover, part of the food reserved for the detainees were often diverted from their destination.
Clothing and sleeping. Very scantily dressed, having nothing but one or two cotton coverlets, the detainees slept on pallets. "I saw," according to Jean Erhardt, "during periods of overcrowding in the camp, five detainees sleeping on two pallets."
Regimen of work. The detainees worked in granite and sand quarries and in building roads. The work was very hard; they required, in effect, a high output, and, if they didn't achieve the quota, they were deprived of food for the next day. The work was supervised by a chief called "Capo": a prisoner himself, appointed by the camp management. This crew chief was responsible for the efforts of the prisoners, in this role he had to step up their work by beating them with a baton at need, and, when the quota was not achieved, he himself received 25 strokes of the baton, at least if he did not prove that he had beaten the prisoners, by showing the marks of the blows on their bodies. The "Capos", recruited from among the common criminals, held over the other detainees the power of life and death.
At the work sites, the detainees were surrounded by a cordon of SS. All the detainees who tried to cross or by mischance fell outside the cordon were cut down by a machine gun.
One of the SS jailers, Fuchs, of Alsatian stock from Mulhouse, was particularly known for his cruelty. After the arrival of a new convoy of "blues" and after they had just come to the work site, Fuchs took the cap of one of the detainees and threw it outside the guard cordon, saying: "If this evening you don't have your cap at roll call, you know what awaits you." The blue tried to go after his head covering and it was then that Fuchs cut him down with the machine gun. His explanation: "Attempt to escape."
Every evening, there was a roll call. It often happened that the head of the camp expressed himself in these terms: "This evening you are 465; tomorrow morning, I don't want to see but 460." They had to achieve this wish and so, at night, an executioner passed through the barracks and, at random, hung or strangled five unfortunates. The next day at roll call only 460 detainees were counted.
Discipline. The disciplinary regime was rigorous. The guards had the right to strike the detainees and set their dogs on them. The Capos themselves had the right of death over their comrades.
One Schanger, driver of the camp of Natzwiller, declared that, among 50 French who arrived at the camp during the course of the summer of 1943, there were 8 deaths among them as a result of mauling by dogs. The SS in fact made them carry huge stones and goaded two police dogs on them; those that fell were attacked and bitten by the dogs until they got up. This same witness recounted that he saw some French officers who stood with difficulty, for their calves had been torn by the dogs and the flesh hung in tatters, nobody had the right to respond to their pleas; the wounded incapable of working were deprived of nourishment at lunch. The witness added: "I saw a Frenchman lying on the ground with torn feet, heel bones exposed, with no bandage. An SS guard told me: There is a Jew who is going to die; he was an army commander at Savernes."
Around 15 days or three weeks after the arrival of these 50 Frenchmen, recounted Schanger, I was able to enter into conversation with one of them who told me that of the 50 who arrived there were no more than 4 and that all the others were dead of their wounds caused by the mauling of the dogs and also of weakness caused by the lack of food.
The arrival of the French and the fashion in which they were treated vividly struck the memory of the group of those who escaped Struthof who really had never seen a treatment so harsh, which made them wonder about their own fate. However the figures differ according to the testimonies: according to the most trustworthy 24 Frenchmen died after the first day and some others not included as "shot trying to escape" the two days following. Whatever it was, General Delestraint, head of the Secret Army, survived those first days. He was killed at the end of the war at another camp. Of the 167 Frenchmen from the three convoys of July 43, only 3 were still alive in August 44.
The guards, having first right after bringing back dead or alive a detainee who escaped, sometimes killed a detainee, who had never tried to escape, to earn a bonus, pretending afterwards that they had made an escape attempt.
A former detainee of the camp of Struthof escaped in August 1942, Martin Wintergerber, native of Greswiller, reported the following facts: On 12 December 1941, at 9 in the morning, the detainees were gathered together. It was brought to their attention that a pack of tobacco was stolen from one of the guards and that the guilty party must place it on the field; all the detainees swore not to be in possession of tobacco, and it was after this that the SS brutes started their macabre game.
Martin Wintergerber is the only known escapee alongside three others, all in the same attempt (the fourth from this escape was recaptured). All those who failed verified the speech that Kramer (the third commandant of the camp) made to all the arrivals: "My camp is not a rest home. Here one must work. And from here there is only one exit" (and he pointed then to the chimney of the crematorium - a speech repeated to all the arrivals, impressing them as a Colossus accompanied by his dog and carrying his switch, which frightened even his subordinates). He was present for all the arrivals, but also at all the "disciplinary" hangings for which he gave the signal.
An order was given to all to undress; it was 8 degrees below zero [centigrade]; nobody objected, knowing that it would be suicide, and it was thus that one saw around 500 human beings completely nude, waiting the course of events. At noon, the first fell, some dead of congestion [pneumonia?], the others losing consciousness; the latter were revived with blows of a riding crop, but none of those arose and they all died, the kidneys ruptured. In the evening, at 6 o'clock, 27 dead were counted, they were relieved of their suffering; but there remained many other men for whom the suffering was not at an end! In fact, many other detainees fell victim to pulmonary edema and had high fevers. As the refined brutes saw them, they said, "Ah! You are heated, and someone will cool you off." And it was then that they were thrown into ice baths, and when they lost consciousness, they drowned or were thrown sometimes out of the bath into a cement room where these human wrecks huddled on the ground seeking a little warmth from the body of a comrade who was going to expire in a few moments. W... described this scene in the following manner: he compared these nude wrecks to "maggots" in a box. He saw one of these unfortunates warm his fingers in the nose of one of his comrades. It was one of the most horrible scenes that he saw at Struthof. That same night, there were 32 dead. W... affirmed having seen in this cement room the jailers take the measurements of living beings for their coffin and affixing a seal to the thigh confirming that they were deaths number such-and-such.
For an amusement, the detainees were struck with whips or batons, the number of blows varying with the gravity of the offense committed (25, 50, 75, 100). Another torture consisted of hanging the detainees by their hands to make them confess to something.
Care. Complete absence of care. Therefore the detainees beaten by their guards or bitten by the dogs received no painkiller, nor care of any kind.
Execution. This took place for the least trifle and was carried out by hanging or firing squad, not forgetting asphyxiation by passing through the gas chamber or death resulting from medical experiments.
The camp commandant filled out every week a census of deaths which he sent to his superiors. We possess the template of these reports where they list 5 categories of deaths:
Death due to illness.
Hung as execution.
Hung by suicide (individuals hanging themselves after having received an execution order)
We will see the utility of these censuses to proving the fate of the 86 Jews who were gassed in the camp.
The dead were incinerated in the crematory furnace and their ashes served as fertilizer for the camp garden; only the ashes of the German victims (for they executed German detainees) were gathered into urns, sold for from 75 to 100 Reichsmarks to their families.
Medical experiments. The prisoners served as guinea pigs to the doctors of Strasbourg, in particular to Drs. Hirt, Wimmser, and Von Haagen.
The doctors named above practiced, with the complicity of the SS, injections of leprosy, of plague and of other diseases on the detainees as a way of observing the effects of these infections; many treatments were tried for the same illness.
The experiment ended, if the subjects were not dead, they were exterminated and incinerated. Thus, in 1944, 200 people were put at the disposal of Dr. Von Haagen and 150 were then immunized against typhus, 50 being reserved as controls.
The group of 200 was then inoculated with the typhus virus (deposition of Miss Schmidt, assistant of Prof. Von Haagen).
See above. An initial shipment of 100 Gypsies was the subject of a letter of complaint by Haagen, 10 or 20 "at most" being usable. 50 or 100 additional Gypsies were sent, and the experiment conducted in fact not with 200, but 80 subjects of which 40 formed a control group (unvaccinated). It is feared that the subjects judged unusable in the first convoy were exterminated in any case.
Furthermore, these doctors conducted experiments with gas on these unfortunates in a gas chamber situated outside the camp. In a single day, 10 August 1943, 86 women were asphyxiated and their corpses immediately incinerated. See the comments below.
It is further determined that:
On 11 August 1943, 15 women were gassed.
On 13 August 1943, 14 women were gassed.
On 17 August 1943, 30 men were gassed.
On 19 August 1943, 20 men were gassed.
There is clearly confusion and the report counts the same victims twice, of which only one was incinerated in the camp. It is probably that one witness believed that the Jews were only women and had all disappeared the same day. In the 10 days following 10 August 43, only the 86 Jews procured from Auschwitz were gassed. There were in total 87 but one was killed by shooting, due to his strong resistance to entering the gas chamber. In total, therefore, 30 women and 57 men were killed.
Total number of victims at the camp of Struthof:
Around 1668 women and more than 10,000 men, of a total of 45,000 detainees passing into the camp.
This figure is difficult to confirm but seems frankly too high, at least for women. As the report notes Struthof received no women in any work camp. The certifiable execution of women was those of the gassed Jewish victims (30), of 4 resistance women parachutists (a case that was made the subject of a trial by the British forces) and two resistance fighters the day before the raid where others (certainly many) ended in execution with the Alliance network.
For the men, the situation is equally difficult to evaluate, the detainees might often be placed in other camps or work details. The figure of 40,000 detainees was exceeded by the camp and generally kept (an absolute minimum of 27,000), among which around 12 to 13,000 dead on site: therefore if the number of detainees passing through Struthof is a little lower than that proposed in the report, the probable number of dead is on the other had greater than 13,000, and probably a lot more if one looks at all the causes of unjustified deaths due to the war situation.
Among the executions it is necessary to mention:
The execution of 392 French (92 women and 300 men on the night of 1 and 2 September 1944).
The Germans fearing a resistance attack had rounded up the resistants and after a brief internment in the camp of Schirmeck took the resistance fighters and suspects to Struthof to execute them. Actually, they admitted that there were between 150 and 200 French executed; the minimum number of 107 is that of the list of names of the Allied resistance memorial. Their execution began the night of 30 August and lasted days (the last days of the evacuation of the camp: 4 September after a brief passage of units of the French militia[?] towards the 10th and 11th - a camp guard boasted nearby to them of having incinerated himself close to 80 bodies, who did not seem to show any sign of discomfort[?]).
2. Account of the "War Crimes Research Service" on the criminal inquest concerning Prof. Hirth, Director of the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg under the Occupation
Following the discovery in the basement of the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg of 86 bodies preserved in alcohol, discovery made 1 December 1944 by Commander Raphael of the Army Cinematographic Service, the military authorities requested the French service called the "Research Organization for War Crimes" to proceed with an inquest. The Research Organization detailed to Alsace until the end of the inquest, beginning 17 December 1944, a commission composed of two officers; one of them a military doctor, plus a civil servant.
One will find following this the essence of the report produced by this commission, following the main testimonies and documents of the charge, figuring in the file on Professor Hirth and of his accomplices:
We arrived in Strasboug 17 December 1944 and made an inquest at the Civil Hospital.
We heard in succession the various Alsatian employees of this hospital. Uniformly, they declared that the activities of Professor Hirth were of a criminal nature, but none of them had proof of their deposition.
One, Henrypierre, technical aide, formally swore that the 86 cadavers were requested by Professor Hirth in the concentration camp and delivered still warm.
We visited the concentration camps of Schirmeck and Natzwiller, to try to account for which of these camps provided the cadavers in question.
The sequence is perfectly logical. The bodies being still warm, and showing no rigor mortis, it had to be less than 8 hours (in the month of August) elapsed since death and with doubt less than 4 according to the forensic medicine specialists who would have noted the start of rigidity of the face and upper extremities; on ly the camps mentioned were sufficiently close to provide such a delay between the killing and the loading of bodies on trucks to deliver them to Strasbourg with a short delay.
We have determined the impossibility for the camp of Schirmeck to have been the place of execution of the victims. On the contrary, the camp of Struthof, near Natzwiller, is quite certainly the departure point of the bodies.
Effectively, on our arrival at the camp of Struthof, which coincided with that of some members of the Consultative Assembly and of a number of journalists, we found formal proofs of mass executions and of the furnishing of bodies to the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg.
The following facts came out of the inquests:
In 1940, at the occupation of Alsace, the Germans sent to Strasbourg a series of doctors, particularly adherents of the national-socialist regime.
Among them was the Professor Dr. Hirth, who was appointed head of the Institute of Anatomical Research of Strasbourg.
Hirth was an Obersturmfuhrer of the SS and it seems that his mission in Strasbourg was of very peculiar kind, being designed to establish the thesis of the racial purity of the SS, on some "unarguable" scientific basis.
Hirth made all his personnel swear an oath to the person of Himmler, chief of the SS. He received directly a special appropriation provided directly from the budget of the High Command of the SS.
He had come with him to Strasbourg, for his technical abilities, the cadaver preparer Otto Bong. He collaborated with Professor Bickenbach, the Doctors Herdt and Van Haagen.
This group of doctors undertook actions qualifying without doubt as "crimes of war."
Professor Hirth was closely tied to the SS commandant of the camp of Struthof and complained regularly of the lack of cadavers at his disposal to make experiments. He frequently sent Dr. Von [check with Mikhail wrt variation between van and von] Haagen to the camp of Struthof to give injections of plague, of leprosy and other fatal diseases to the inmates.
After the death of detainees having been subjected to these injections, one of the adjunct doctors to Professor Hirth returned to the camp, to remove the interesting organs before the incineration of the body.
Otto Bong, preparer for Professor Hirth, received himself in the month of August 1943, the 86 bodies which are still found today at the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg. Bong, who had long experience in laboratories, declared candidly that the 86 people whose corpses had been sent to him had been "put to sleep," he did not know by what means, but they were not, without any doubt, dead of natural causes. They were delivered by the SS in trucks and without clothes.
Bong confirms that the researches pursued by Professor Hirth were dedicated entirely to the scientific capability of the SS.
He revealed furthermore that Professor Hirth did not neglect small benefits.
Bong was tasked with removing the gold teeth of the cadavers and sending them to Professor Hirth who was the bearer of a Swiss passport.
In summary, we have the proof that Professor Hirth deliberately committed criminal acts, placing him outside the Geneva Convention.
The responsible parties of this matter from the Civil Hospital of Strasbourg are of varying degrees:
1. Professor Hirth, actually in Germany,
2. Doctor Van Haagen, returned to the Luftwaffe,
3. And 4. Doctor Haerdt and Doctor Zbickenbach, taken prisoner by the Free French forces and remanded to the American military authorities.
The identification of 86 bodies in the Institute of Strasbourg is very difficult, the heads having been burned before the departure of Professor Hirth.
16 bodies of which 3 were women were decapitated but not entirely: all the others had been dismembered with a scythe. For a long time a single victim, Menachem Taffel, was the only one identified, thanks to Serge Klarsfeld. It is only recently (in 2003) that Hans Joachim Lang succeeded in identifying all the victims, by comparing a list of numbers gathered at Strasbourg with a list of vaccination made at Auschwitz, which was only liberated some months later and by the Russians. See several lines down.
However, Henrypierre inscribed numbers on different parts of the bodies 1 to 86 and removed the registration numbers that the bodies carried on arrival at camp.
We have been able to obtain the file of the dead from the camp of Struthof, corresponding to the same time, and we tried to obtain identification, if it is possible.
All the numbers removed by Henrypierre have been able to be compared with success with those of the archives of Auschwitz, even though the SS destroyed them, only incomplete copies had been able to be made secretly by the inmates. A single victim would be finally identified with certainty with an intact body and tattooing: Menachem Taffel, Berlin Jew, registered as Auschwitz 107969, thanks to his passing through the infirmary after he worked at Monowitz: in fact the archives of Auschwitz noted the registration numbers of deportees who survived the selection of different convoys of arrivals, but not the name corresponding to the registration number.
The list brought forth by Henrypierre nevertheless permitted the identification of the names of 85 other victims, thanks to the work of a German journalist-historian, Hans Joachim Lang, remarkable in his persistence: not only had the French government after the war seemed to have made no research, but even worse the modern governments gave only with great difficulty access to their archives. Hans Joachim Lang obtained the list of Henrypierre in the United States. As the victims had all been vaccinated against typhus during their quarantine, their name could be rediscovered. Henrypierre made some small errors on a few numbers (transposition of digits, a wrong digit) which caused no problem with recovering them. The journalist having performed this remarkable task gave a public homage by reading publicly the names of the victims after a colloquy at Strasbourg. His researches were published in his book, "Die Namen der Nummern [The Names of the Numbers]."
In a general way, the file of the dead in our possession will permit us to inform the different consulates - Russian, Polish, Czech, ... of the death of their deportees.
If the record of men who died at Struthof seems perfectly kept, no indication exists therein concerning the women. It seems that the women were not sent to Struthof, with no papers, for any reason other than to be killed there.
III. ATTACHED DOCUMENTS
I - Account of Commander Raphael, of the Cinematographic Service of the Army
Friday 1 December 1944, in the course of a visit to the Civil Hospital of Strasbourg to research photographic material provided by the German Institute, Commander Raphael of the Cinematographic Service of the Army, noted the presence in the basement of the building of the Institute of Anatomy piled-up cadavers in tanks with a bit of alcohol[?].
These cadavers were destined for experiments by Professor Hirth, Director of the Institute.
According to the declarations of the Alsatian employees: Peter, Wagner and Gabel, these bodies would have been delivered to the Institute on the request of the Institute by request of Professor Hirth to a political detainee camp (Schirmeck or Struthof).
Of 120 cadavers requested, 86 were delivered in the same day at 5 in the morning. The bodies were transported nude, 50 per truck. After their unloading, the witnesses were able to declare that the cadavers presented the following characteristics:
They were still tepid and did not display cadaverous stiffness. Their eyes were congested [irritated? Teary?] and red. They carried a registration number tattooed on the arm. They comprised 30 women of all ages.
This passage is totally erroneous in the manner of "delivery" and shows that the editor was inattentive, for in the testimonies that he attaches to his own document, one sees to the contrary that the cadavers were delivered in either 3 or 4 shipments.
For the rest, it is noted that there was found in the laboratory of the professor a powerful bomb full of liquid oxygen (10 kgs) intended to cause the destruction of the entire installation, and thus to make any compromising trace disappear. The rapid advance of Leclerc's army prevented the realization of this project. Anyway, Professor Hirth succeeded in fleeing, but a portion of his assistants remained in place.
This passage is even less credible. Oxygen promotes burning without explosion: if there is no catalyst: it would have been infinitely more simple for an SS doctor to procure a classic explosive, or even to burn his laboratory with gasoline. Without having seen the "bomb" it is difficult to judge, but it is undoubtedly a matter of ordinary medical materiel, as it is present everywhere (visiting a hospital one can see nearly anywhere a sick person with oxygen at his bedside).
The people whose names follow are at the same time to furnish all corroborating details on this matter and to serve as witnesses:
1- Alsatian elements having denounced the actions of the Professor and continuing their service at the Civil Hospital: Pater, Wagner, Gabel 2 -
rman elements (interned or guarded): Miss Seepe, secretary of Professor Hirth; Mr. And Mrs. Bong, assistants of the Professor.
Mr. Bong was supposed to be shot, and was not executed in order to serve as witness. He is imprisoned.
The number of cadavers, the abnormal manner in which the bodies were brought to the hospital.
The precautions taken to eliminated all traces of these installations.
Finally, the depositions of the employees attached to this service, prove that Professor Hirth was a sad person whose activities should be brought to light.
It seems that one finds oneself confronted with a manifestation of German barbarism.
Made at Paris, 10 December 1944.
2 - Excerpts from the verbal interrogation proceeding of Mr. Henri Henrypierre (report attached)
Henrypierre, born at Liever (Haut-Rhin [Upper Rhine]), was imprisoned by the Germans at Paris in 1940 and taken by force to Strasbourg, where he worked as a preparer at the Civil Hospital.
He would have been tasked by the German doctors to drive them to the other side of the Rhine after the Allied advance. But the day of departure, he emptied the battery of the car and prevented the departure.
Henrypierre gave to the high command [don't know what French words the abbreviation E-M stands for?] of the Leclerc Division a notebook containing the name of all the dead of the military hospital and of the fort of Mutzig, from which the cadavers were delivered to the hospital.
Outside of his written deposition concerning Professor Hirth and Bong, he declared that Von Haagen (always in the uniform of the Luftwaffe) was tasked with visiting the camps to perform experiments there on living prisoners, that he did not like the work that Professor Hirth obliged him to do and would announce it to those around him, and that he finally demanded to return to flight duty.
He reports that Professor Hirth and Doctor Von Haagen were, both of them, very distant and spoke little with the personnel of the hospital.
He detailed that it was Mayer who, after the German departure, was tasked with blowing up the Institute of Anatomy.
3 - Report on the 86 bodies received from the concentration camp at the Anatomical Institute, at the start of August 1943
Strasbourg, Anatomical Institute, 16 December 44
I the undersigned Henrypierre Henri, technical aide at the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg, certify that, by a sense of duty and justice, I swore on the 86 bodies that I would avenge them. This is why I make under oath the following declarations:
At the start of August 1943, Professor Hirth, director of the Anatomical Institute, made us prepare tanks to receive 120 bodies provided by a concentration camp. Several days before, Professor Hirth, according to Mr. Otto Bong, said:
"They are going to drop like flies."
An SS commander had an agreement with Professor Hirth on the matter of the bodies that he had to procure for us. In the first half of August, we received the first delivery of thirty bodies of women who were Jewish and fairly young. These bodies arrived in an SS truck. They were completely nude and still warm, the red eyes open, protruding from their sockets, the majority bleeding from the nose and mouth. That same day, Professor Hirth told me:
"Pierre, if you can't shut your trap, you'll come to the same place." (Peter, wenn Du die Schnautze nicht halten kanst, so kommst Du auch dazu.)
The witness attests that the women were Jews without any way for one to know how he learned this. Nevertheless he shows that he was pressured to keep quiet about this subject.
The following days, we received again two deliveries, but of men this time, the first delivery of 30 men, and the second of 26 men; these 56 Jewish men arrived in the same state as the women, that is to say completely nude, warm, the eyes open protruding from the sockets and bleeding from the nose and the mouth and certain of them full of fecal material. From the men, the testicles were removed which were sent to the anatomical laboratory about which Mr. Louis Schmittbuhl can give the necessary information.
All the bodies arrived in bulk in a truck belonging to the SS.
The bodies all had registration numbers tattooed on the left or right forearm; all the registration numbers were removed by me, and I hold them for the disposition of justice. In the month of September 1944, after the advance of the Allies on the soil of Lorraine, Professor Hirth, seized by panic, had the 86 corpses dismembered by his principal preparer, Mr. Otto Bong, and the laboratory assistant Mr. August Mayer, and had the heads burned along with certain limbs at the crematory oven of the town of Strasbourg.
All the numbers noted by Henrypierre were able to be compared with those of Auschwitz; there was a total concordance. The negligence of Bong would later see that the bodies were forgotten and above all that of [Menachem Taffel] who was the only victim identified until 2004 when Hans Joachim Lang, after long work, succeeded in recovering the name of all the victims and even tracing the past of certain of them.
These heads and these limbs were put pell-mell in 12 coffins in order to lead one to believe they were the remnants of preparation of anatomical cadavers. It is this which led me to suspect the responsibility of Professor Hirth, SS Hauptsturmfuhrer, not only the responsibility but equally the complicity.
It is he, in cooperation with the commandant of the camp, who caused the murder of these 86 innocent victims. One detail: according to the statements of Mr. Otto Bong made to me, certain victims had gold teeth; after the dismemberment, these teeth were extracted and Professor Hirth took them into his possession.
For any other declaration, I specify that Mr. Otto Bong can serve as principal witness, being the right arm of the professor.
Technical aide of the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg
4 - Excerpts from the verbal interrogation proceeding of Mrs. BRANTNERM
Mrs. Brantner, born at Strasbourg in 1902, nurse of the Red Cross, worked at the Anatomical Institute until July 1943. Until this time, she saw Professor Hirth every day.
Professor Hirth, she reports, confirmed that he made his experiments on the prisoners of Struthof because they were not Alsatians, but German prisoners condemned to death.
Mrs. Brantner was additionally the friend of Dr. Von Haagen. According to her testimony, this doctor was tasked with the liaison with the camp of Struthof and there made injections ordered by Professor Hirth. Mrs. Brantner herself saw the photos of the prisoners before and after the needle sticks. One always noticed on the arms of the diseased the swellings and deformations at the injection site [orig has "suite", should be site?]. The majority of the patients died of their treatment.
The camp of Struthof telephoned immediately to the anatomical service to announce the deaths; it was Mrs. Brantner who answered the phone.
Von Haagen showed up regularly at Struthof and brought back to Strasbourg different organs of the dead. The preparer Schmidt proceeded to make slides of these organs and the observations were dictated in the field to Miss Seepe, secretary of Professor Hirth.
Dr. Von Haagen would have confided to a psychiatrist, Dr. Kummer, that the work that they assigned to him was not that of an honest doctor. He confided to Mrs. Brantner that he worked under duress with Professor Hirth and that if that one suspected him of treason, he would have him killed like a dog (15)
5 - Interrogation of Mr. Otto Bong, made at Paris, 28 December 1944
I am called Otto Konrad Johann Bong, born 5/9/1901 [5 September 1901] at Frankfurt amMain, son of Hermann-Franz, shoemaker, and of Maria nee Bohm. I went to school in Frankfurt until the age of 14 years. After leaving school, I was apprenticed to a metalworking machinist, for three years. I worked as a specialist in motorcycles and autos. Laid off in 1921, for the first time, I resumed my profession in 1924. At that time, my sister, secretary of the Curator of Frankfurt, presented me to Professor Bluntschlis (professor of anatomy at Bern) who employed me as an [assistant?].
In 1933, Professor Bluntschlis, Swiss and democrat, was constrained to abandon his position. He was replaced by Professor Zeijer until October 1934. Professor Sfuhl de Kierswald succeeded him. In October 1938, he was replaced in his turn by Professor Hirth. During this time, I became the chief preparer. Professor Hirth was born at Mannheim; I never heard of him before his arrival. He was already SS. He left at the declaration of war, as head of the field hospital in France; he never related to what end.
I was married 5 February 1931 to Elisabeth Spangenbeck de Berlingen.
Before Hitler, I was an active member of the Social-Democratic Party.
At Frankfurt, I never noted the special SS activities of Hirth, but, in Strasbourg, he told me one day, after a year, that he brought me there because of my technical skills, even though he would have preferred an SS man.
Hirth was appointed to Strasbourg in 1941 towards 28 October, and he immediately took me with him.
Hirth conducted himself normally at first; it was not until about a year later that his secretary, Miss Seepe, told us that Hirth was charged with a mission concerning the "Ahnenerbe." I could never imagine what this meant exactly. There was held in Strasbourg a conference on "Ahnenerbe" which was attended by the doctors of the faculty.
It was towards the end of August or the start of September 1943 that we received four deliveries of cadavers, sent during the period of about a week. An SS vehicle driven by a chauffeur and escorted by two SS arrived with twenty nude cadavers or still having partially their underclothes. The first two trips consisted of women, the two latter of men; the youngest women were about 16 years old, the oldest 40, the men 20 to 50 years. The majority was of a Semitic type, not all.
The bodies were still warm, without apparent wounds; they were partially twisted, the eyes did not seem abnormal, but the noses were bleeding, the hair of the women were cut. No trace of blows was apparent.
False. The traces of blows were perfectly visible on certain cadavers. Anyone even without being a doctor could recognize flagrant bruises (see at the end the document a snapshot of one of the bodies) and Bong surely sought to disconnect himself from responsibility, being himself prosecuted; one cannot suppose that a "Chief Preparer" hade not noticed fairly evident traces.
Professor Hirth announced to us several weeks in advance, that around 150 bodies would be put at our disposition.
At the arrival of these 86 bodies, in August 1943, I proceeded with their preservation by an injection of a formaldehyde-alcohol mixture and they were placed in tanks of alcohol. What was bizarre was that, for a year, the professor was not interested in them at all. He didn't even ask for the gold teeth, as was the case for the cadavers that we normally received.
Please note the method used: the injection of formaldehyde-alcohol (2 liters of formaldehyde and 3 of ethyl alcohol diluted in 5 liters of water), which was done by forced injection of the product in the major blood vessels. This method made it useless to perform a post-mortem to try to detect the presence of HCN [hydrogen cyanide]. When the subjects inhaled HCN they inhaled very little, just the lethal dose; one could not find in their stomach or anywhere else an excess amount. The possibility of discerning traces of HCN in the body was lost, at least with the state of forensic medicine in 1940-1950. Later there remained no chance of detecting cyanide compounds which decomposed with the bodies, even with modern methods (cyanide compounds are unstable, being formed by a very weak acid).
At the end of August 1944, he asked me to cut up the bodies and removal of the heads. The gold teeth were to be sent to him and the heads burned. It was Mayer who carried out the extraction of teeth. The heads and organs were burned at the crematorium on Ruprecht Street. It seemed evident that Hirth sought to erase the traces of a crime. The dismembered corpses were replaced in the alcohol tanks. A number was tattooed on the forearms of the bodies.
Otto Bong had likewise removed the portion of the forearms bearing the tattoos [of the Auschwitz registration numbers - MS], forgetting several bodies during his labors; but naturally he does not boast here of what is at the minimum false testimony and at the worst complicity (punished in France as the crime itself), having himself been arrested and at risk of execution.
No paperwork ever existed concerning these bodies.
Hirth departed Strasbourg towards 15 November, saying that he was taking a trip to Wurzburg and would return. I was arrested Sunday the 29th by the Free French forces.
6 - Histological slides
The histological samples we were sent consisted of fifty-four preparations taken from different individuals (at least 7 individuals).
These preparations focused on the human testicles in large sections or complete. Studying them allowed one to note the following lesions: in certain of them, edema and considerable blockage with hardening of the blood vessels, and at the same time loss of squamous cells of the seminal epithelium and clumping of elements of the spermatogenic cells with clumping and homogenization of groups of interstitial cells.
Other more reduced edemas were characterized by the fact that a certain number of non-sperm-producing seminal tubes were reduced to a single cell and sometimes by a sclerotic scar among other normal tubes.
The samples were extended, one could tell that the lesions were not generalized, as happens, for example, after irradiation, alimentary problems, etc., but localized in irregular shafts across the genital gland.
The experience acquired in the course of work on the genital glands of animals by a French histologist specializing in these questions, indicates that this is exactly what happens when one injects into the testicles toxic or irritating substances, for the purpose of stopping the production of sperm. The distribution in irregular shafts - at random from the diffusion from the injection - is completely characteristic.
In any case, one can conclude that it involved intraparenchymatous[?] injections and that these injections were performed a fairly long time before these individuals were sacrificed: a time that seems to have varied between several days and several weeks, judging by the length that similar preparations take to reabsorb.
The goal of this work seemed to be to study toxins capable of producing sterilization. It is completely impossible to identify the substance(s) employed. It should be noted that the size of two complete specimens is of a nature, compared to analogous testicles supplied by adults, to show that they were testicles of two children of 13 to 14 years old, which was confirmed by the fact that the tubes that were not affected by the toxic substance were at the first stage of spermatogenesis for one, and still aspermatogenic in the other.
These experiments were certainly not painless, even supposing that the experience was done under anesthesia; it is evident that the edemic reaction and the blockage was painful.
The origin of these histological samples remains fairly mysterious. As one sees traces of scarring on some of them, it rules out the idea that these came from Jewish victims of Struthof who were there much too short a time; it seems logical to suppose that the samples resulted from sterilization experiments without any connection to the gassing.
7 - Letters from German doctors
Procurator of the Civil Court of Stuttgart
Confidential Stuttgart - O, 15 July 1942
Urgent stamp of the Anatomical Institute of
the Reich University of
Strasbourg (civil hospital)
Entry: 16 July 1942
To the Anatomical Institutes of
For the future, there is reason to anticipate more executions than previously. Consequently, I would like you to keep in mind to let me know as soon as possible how many cadavers your car can be loaded with in the future, keeping account of its capabilities.
It is desirable that the number of cadavers I previously indicated be capable of being increased, which would permit me, for many executions, to request only the vehicles of three anatomical institutes.
-------------- Regional Health Office
Ref: D.L.P. 13.178 Lurchingen, 8 September 1942
Mr. Professor Dr. HIRT,
Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg
I just received from the appropriate authorities the authorization to do what is currently needed in order that, if necessary, the transport of cadavers can be effected to your Institute.
The [Managing?] Commissioner of the Office of Health,
------------- Confidential 17 July 1942
To the Procurator of the Civil Court of Stuttgart
Re: yr letter of 15-7 [15 July], no. 4417
The hearse requisitioned by me has not yet been delivered. Given that, for one thing, the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg has no more usable cadavers at its disposal and, for another thing, there is reason to foresee a major influx of cadavers, transport by rail should be looked at. In this case, we would certainly be interested in taking a wagon [trailer truck?]. The car requested by me would not be able to take more than 4 cadavers.
The Director of the Anatomical Institute:
------------ The Procurator-General Karlsruhe, 11 May 1944
4417-56 Herrenstrasse, 1
To the Anatomy of the University of Strasbourg (Alsace)
Re: measures concerning the executions.
At the [penitentiary?] and at the prison of Bruchsal, the sentences of death will be quickly executed. The resulting cadavers will be put at the disposal of the Anatomical Institute. Please let me know the number of cadavers which your Institute will take charge of and if they can be found at [the penitentiary?] and at the prison of Bruchsal.
The documents used to establish these testimonies are the following:
1. SCHAEF [Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces?]
a. Dossier sent 12 January 1945 by Major G. Shapp;
b. Dossier sent 2 March 1945 by Major G. Shapp.
2. Report from the head of Pavart squadron, dated 1 Feb. 1945.
3. Report of a functionary of the Ministry of the Interior, dated 31 January 1945.
4. Report of Dr. Rislter [should be Ristler?], dated 15 March 1945.
5. Report of the Secretary-General of Police for Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, dated 26 February 1945.
6. Signed declaration of Mr. Sylvain Zanetti, dated 20 December 1944, who was confided in by an SS of the camp of Struthof during the occupation.
7. Signed declaration of Leopold Steiner, driver of the camp of Struthof during the occupation.
8. Signed declaration of Ernest Idouz, farmer of Struthof.
9. Declaration of Louis Herbelin, living at Havre, escapee from Germany, who worked as a prisoner at the camp of Struthof.
10. Declaration received 21 January at 2 PM, by Lieutenant Day, at Department 5 of the High Command of the 1st Free French Division.
11. Signed declaration of Albert Schinger, chauffeur at the camp of Struthof, resident of Natzwiller, dated 22 January 1945.
12. Deposition dated 22 January 1945, of Jean Ehrardt, former guard at the camp of Struthof.
13. Report dated 24 March, from the head of [S. R. Of F. N.] (region of Alsace) Robert Baillard, relating his hearing of the witness Martin Winterberger, former detainee of Struthof, escaped in August 1942, currently at the 1st Free French Division.
14. Declaration of Miss Edith Schmidt, assistant of Dr. Van Haagen, signed 9 January 1945.
15. It seems that Dr. Von Haagen used similar means of intimidation towards his subordinates. Thus according to the testimony of the Alsatian architect who built the tanks for cadavers for the Anatomical Institute, he threatened one of his preparers with being "stuck to the wall" if he talked.
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