document made by Kurt Gerstein on the extermination camps at Belzec
and Treblinka. Gerstein wrote down his evidence on May 26, 1945.
of the massacres of insane people at Grafeneck, Hadamar, etc.,
shocked and greatly affected me, having such a case in my family. I
had but one desire - to gain an insight into this whole machinery
and then to shout it to the whole world! With the help of two
references written by the two Gestapo employees who had dealt with
my case, it was not difficult for me to enter the Waffen SS.
January, 1942, I was named chief of the Waffen SS technical
disinfection services, including a section for extremely toxic
One day SS-Sturmbannhfuhrer Gunther of the RSHA came into my office,
dressed in civilian clothing. I did not know him. He ordered me to
get him 100 kilos of prussic acid and to go with him to a place
known only to the truck driver. When the truck was loaded, we ledt
for Lublin (Poland). We took along Dr. Pfannenstiel, occupant of the
chair of hygiene at the University of Marburg.
SS Gruppenfuhrer Globocnick was waiting for us at Lublin. He told us,
'This is one of the most secret matters there are, even the most
secret. Anybody who talks about it will be shot immediately.'
He explained to us that there were three installations:
1) Belzec, on the Lublin-Lwow road. A maximum of 15,000 people per
2) Sobibor (I don't know exactly where it is), 20,000 people a day.
3) Treblinka, 120 kilometers NNE of Warsaw
4) Maidanek, near Lublin (under construction).
Globocnick said: 'You will have to disinfect large piles of clothing
coming from Jews, Poles, Czechs, etc. Your other duty will be to
improve the workings of our gas chambers, which operate on the
exhaust from a Diesel engine. We need a more toxic and faster
working gas, something like prussic acid. The Fuehrer and Himmler -
they were here the day before yesterday, August 15 - ordered me to
accompany anybody who has to see the installation.'
Professor Pfannenstiel asked him: 'But what does the Fuhrer say?'
Globocnick answered: 'The Fuhrer has ordered more speed. Dr. Herbert
Lindner, who was here yesterday, asked me, 'Wouldn't it be more
prudent to burn the bodies instead of burying them? Another
generation might take a different view of these things.' I answered:
'Gentlemen, if there is ever a generation after us so cowardly, so
soft, that it would not understand our work as good and necessary,
then, gentlemen, National Socialism will have been for nothing. On
the contrary, we should bury bronze tablets saying that it was we,
we who had the courage to carry out this gigantic task!' Then the
Fuhrer said: 'Yes, my brave Globocnick, you are quite right.''
The next day we left for Belzec. Globocnick introduced me to SS [Wirth?]
who took me around the plant. We saw no dead bodies that day, but a
pestilential odor hung over the whole area.
Alongside the station there was a 'dressing' hut with a window for 'valuables.'
Further on, a room with a hundred chairs, [designated as] 'the
barber.' Then a corridor 150 meters long in the open air, barbed
wire on both sides, with signs: 'To the baths and inhalants.' In
front of us a building like a bath house; to the left and right,
large concrete pots of geraniums or other flowers. On the rood, the
Star of David. On the building a sign: 'Heckenholt Foundation.'
The following morning, a little before seven there was an
announcement: 'The first train will arrive in ten minutes!' A few
minutes later a train arrived from Lemberg: 45 cars with more than
6,000 people, Two hundred Ukrainians assigned to this work flung
open the doors and drove the Jews out of the cars with leather whips.
A loud speaker gave instructions: 'Strip, even artificial limbs and
glasses. Hand all money and valuables in at the 'valuables window.'
Women and young girls are to have their hair cut in the 'barber's
hut.'' (An SS Unterfuehrer told me: 'From that they make something
special for submarine crews.')
Then the march began. Barbed wire on both sides, in the rear two
dozen Ukrainians with rifles. They drew near. Wirth and I found
ourselves in front of the death chambers. Stark naked men, women,
children, and cripples passed by.
A tall SS man in the corner called to the unfortunates in a loun
minister's voice: 'Nothing is going to hurt you! Just breathe deep
and it will strengthen your lungs. It's a way to prevent contagious
diseases. It's a good disinfectant!'
They asked him what was going to happen and he answered: 'The men
will have to work, build houses and streets. The women won't have to
do that, they will be busy with the housework and the kitchen.'
This was the last hope for some of these poor people, enough to make
them march toward the death chambers without resistance. The
majority knew everything; the smell betrayed it!
They climbed a little wooden stairs and entered the death chambers,
most of them silently, pushed by those behind them. A Jewess of
about forty with eyes like fire cursed the murderers; she
disappeared into the gas chambers after being struck several times
by Captain Wirth's whip.
Many prayed; others asked" 'Who will give us the water before
we die?' [A Jewish rite] SS men pushed the men into the chambers. 'Fill
it up,' Wirth ordered; 700-800 people in 93 square meters. The doors
Then I understood the reason for the 'Heckenholt' sign. Heckenholt
was the driver of the Diesel, whose exhaust was to kill these poor
unfortunates. SS Unterscharfuehrer Heckenholt tried to start the
It wouldn't start! Captain Wirth came up. You could see he was
afriad because I was there to see the disaster. Yes, I saw everyting
and waited. My stopwatch clocked it all: 50 minutes, 70 minutes, and
the Diesel still would not start!
The men were waiting in the gas chambers. You could hear them
weeping 'as though in a synagogue,' said Professor Pfannenstiel, his
eyes glued to the window in the wooden door.
Captain Wirth, furious, struck with his whip the Ukrainians who
helped Heckenholt. The Diesel started up after 2 hours and 49
minutes, by my stopwatch. Twenty-five minutes passed. You could see
through the window that many were already dead, for an electric
light illuminated the interior of the room. All were dead after
Jewish workers on the other side opened the wodden doors. They had
been promised their lives in return for doing this horrible work,
plus a small percentage of the money and valuables collected.
The men were still standing, like columns of stone, with no room to
fall or lean. Even in death you could tell the families, alll
holding hands. It was difficult to separate them while emptying the
rooms for the next batch.
The bodies were tossed out, blue, wet with seat and urine, the legs
smeared with excrement and menstual blood.
Two dozen workers were busy checking mouths which they opened with
iron hooks. 'Gold to the left, no gold to the right.' Others checked
anus and genitals, looking for money, diamonds, gold, etc. Dentists
knocked out gold teeth, bridges, and crowns, with ahmmers.
Captain Wirth stood in the middle of them. He was in his element,
and, showing me a big jam box filled with teeth, said, 'See the
wieght of the gold! Just from yesterday and the day before! You
can't imagine what we find every day, dollars, diamonds, gold!
You'll see!' He took me over to a jeweler who was responsible for
all the valuables.
They also pointed out to me one of the heads of the big Berlin store
Kaufhaus des Westens, and a little man whom they forced to play the
violin, the chiefs of the Jewish workers' commandos. 'He is a
captain of the Imperial Austrian Army, Chevalier of the German Iron
Cross,' Wirth told me.
Then the bodies were thrown into big ditches near the gas chambers,
about 100 by 20 by 12 meters. After a few days the bodies welled and
the whole mass rose up 2-3 years because of the gas in the bodies.
When the swelling went down several days later, the bodies matted
They told me that later they poured Diesel oil over the bodies and
burned them on railroad ties to make them disappear."
of Hans Stark, registrar of new arrivals in the death camp
Auschwitz. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen,
V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988, p. 255:
another, later gassing - also in autumn 1941- Grabner ordered me to
pour Zyklon B into the opening because only one medical orderly had
shown up. During a gassing Zyklon B had to be poured through both
openings of the gas-chamber room at the same time. This gassing was
also a transport of 200-250 Jews, once again men, women and children.
As the Zyklon B - as already mentioned - was in granular form, it
trickled down over the people as it was being poured in. They then
started to cry out terribly for they now knew what was happening to
them. I did not look through the opening because it had to be closed
as soon as the Zyklon B had been poured in. After a few minutes
there was silence. After some time had passed, it may have been ten
to fifteen minutes, the gas chamber was opened. The dead lay
higgledy-piggedly all over the place. It was a dreadful sight."
of SS private Hoeblinger. Extracted from Der Auschwitz Prozess
by Hermann Langbein, Vol. I. Quoted in Auschwitz: Technique and
operation of the gas chambers - J.C Pressac, the Beate Klarsfeld
Foundation, NY, 1989, p. 174:
was detailed to the transport service and I drove the Sanka which
was to carry the prisoners .. Then we drove to the gas chambers. The
medical orderlies climbed a ladder, they had gas masks up there, and
emptied the cans. I was able to observe the prisoners while they
were undressing. It always proceeded quietly and without them
suspecting anything. It happened very quickly ..."
of SS private Boeck. Extracted from Der Auschwitz Prozess by
Hermann Langbein, Vol. I. Quoted in Auschwitz: Technique and
operation of the gas chambers - J.C Pressac, the Beate Klarsfeld
Foundation, NY, 1989, p. 181:
were you present at a gassing operation one day?
A: Yes, it was one evening. I accompanied the driver Hoeblinger. A
transport had arrived from Holland and the prisoners had to jump
from the wagons. They were well-off Jews. There were women with
Persian furs. They arrived by express train. The trucks were already
there, with wooden steps before them, and the people climbed aboard.
Then they all started off. In the place Birkenau once stood, there
was only a long farmhouse (Bunker 2) and beside it four or five big
huts. Inside, the people were standing on clothes which were
building up on the floor. The block leader and the sergeant,
carrying a cane, were there. Hoeblinger said to me 'lets go over
there now'. There was a sign 'to disinfection'. He said 'you see,
they are bringing children now'. They opened the door, threw the
children in and closed the door. There was a terrible cry. A member
of the SS climbed on the roof. The people went on crying for about
ten minutes. Then the prisoners opened the doors. Everything was in
disorder and contorted. Heat was given off. The bodies were loaded
on a rough wagon and taken to a ditch. The next batch were already
undressing in the huts. After that I didn't look at my wife for four
of SS-Unterscharführer Perry Broad, describing gassing in Krema I
in Auschwitz. Quoted in KL Auschwitz as Seen by the SS, p.
The disinfectors were at work. One of them was SS-Unterscharführer
Teuer, decorated with the Cross of War Merit. With a chisel and a
hammer they opened a few innocuously looking tins which bore the
inscription "Cyclon, to be used against vermin. Attention,
poison! to be opened by trained personnel only!". The tins were
filled to the brim with blue granules the size of peas. Immediately
after opening the tins, their contents was thrown into the holes
which were then quickly covered.
Meanwhile Grabner gave a sign to the driver of a lorry, which had
stopped close to the crematorium. The driver started the motor and
its deafening noise was louder than the death cries of the hundreds
of people inside, being gassed to death."
of SS-Unterscharführer Schluch in the Belzec-Oberhauser trial.
Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard
Death Camps, Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p.
leaving the undressing barracks, I had to show the Jews the way to
the gas chambers. I believe that when I showed the Jews the way they
were convinced that they were really going to the baths. After the
Jews entered the gas chambers, the doors were closed by Hackenholt
himself or by the Ukrainians subordinated to him. Then Hackenholt
switched on the engine which supplied the gas ...
could see that the lips and tips of the noses were a bluish color.
Some of them had their closed, other's eyes rolled. The bodies were
dragged out of the gas chambers and inspected by a dentist, who
removed finger rings and gold teeth ..."
of SS-Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender in the Belzec-Oberhauser trial.
Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard
Death Camps, Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p.
the Jews undressed, Oberscharführer Michel made a speech to them.
On these occasions, he used to wear a white coat to give the
impression that he was a physician. Michel announced to the Jews
that they would be sent to work, but before this they would have to
take baths and undergo disinfection so as to prevent the spread of
diseases ... After undressing, the Jews were taken through the
so-called Schlauch. They were led to the gas chambers not by the
Germans but by the Ukrainians ...
After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the Ukrainians closed the
doors. The motor which supplied the gas was switched on by a
Ukrainian named Emil and by a German driver called Erich Bauer from
Berlin. After the gassing, the door were opened and the corpses
of SS-Untersturmführer Oberhauser on the death camp at Belzec.
Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess,
The Free Press, NY, 1988., p. 228-230:
camp of Belzec was situated north-east of the Tomaszow to Lemberg
road beyond the village of Belzec. As the camp needed a siding for
the arriving transports the camp was built about 400 meters from
Belzec station. The camp itself was divided into two sections:
section 1 and section 2. The siding led directly from Belzec station
into section 2 of the camp, in which the undressing barracks as well
as the gas installations and the burial field were situated ...
gassing of Jews which took place in Belzec camp up till 1 August
1942 can be divided into two phases. During the first series of
experiments there were two to three transports consisting of four to
six freight cars each holding twenty to forty persons. On the
average 150 Jews were delivered and killed per transport. At that
stage the gassings were not yet part of a systematic eradication
action but were carried out to test and study closely the camp's
capacity and the technical problems involved in carrying out a
the beginning of May 1942 SS-Oberführer Brack from the Führer's
chancellery suddenly came to Lublin. With Globocnik he discussed
resuming the extermination of the Jews. Globocnik said he had too
few people to carry out this program. Brack stated that the
euthanasia program had stopped and that the people from T4 would
from now on be detailed to him on a regular basis so that the
decisions taken at the Wannsee conference could be implemented. As
it appeared that it would not be possible for the Einsatzgruppen to
clear individual areas of Jews and the people in the large ghettos
of Warsaw and Lemberg by shooting them, the decision had been taken
to set up two further extermination camps which would be ready by 1
August 1942, namely Treblinka and Sobibor. The large-scale
extermination program was due to start on 1 August 1942.
a week after Brack had come to Globocnik, Wirth and his staff
returned to Belzec. The second series of experiments went on until 1
August 1942. During this period a total of five to six transports
(as far as I am aware) consisting of five to seven freight cars
containing thirty to forty people came to Belzec. The Jews from two
of these transports were gassed in the small chamber, but then Wirth
had the gas huts pulled down and built a massive new building with a
much larger capacity. It was here that the Jews from the rest of the
transport were gassed.
the first experiments and the first set of transports in the second
series of experiments bottled gas was still used for gassing;
however, for the last transports of the second series of experiments
the Jews were killed with the exhaust gases from a tank or lorry
engine which was operated by Hackenholt."
of Treblinka's second commandant, Franz Stangl. Quoted in Belzec,
Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps.
Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 184:
told me later that Wirth suddenly appeared, looked around on the gas
chambers on which they were still working, and said: 'right, we'll
try it out right now with those twenty-five working Jews. Get them
up here'. They marched our twenty-five Jews up there and just pushed
them in and gassed them. Michel said Wirth behaved like a lunatic,
hitting at his own staff with his whip to drive them on ..."
of Willi Mentz about Treblinka. Quoted in The Good Old Days -
E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988, p. 245-247:
I came to Treblinka the camp commandant was a doctor named Dr. Eberl.
He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports
than could be "processed" in the camp. That meant that
trains had to wait outside the camp because the occupants of the
previous transport had not yet all been killed. At the time it was
very hot and as a result of the long wait inside the transport
trains in the intense heat many people died. At the time whole
mountains of bodies lay on the platform. The Hauptsturmführer
Christian Wirth came to Treblinka and kicked up a terrific row. And
then one day Dr. Eberl was no longer there ...
about two months I worked in the upper section of the camp and then
after Eberl had gone everything in the camp was reorganized. The two
parts of the camp were separated by barbed wire fences. Pine
branches were used so that you could not see through the fences. The
same thing was done along the route from the "transfer"
area to the gas chambers ...
new and larger gas chambers were built. I think that there were now
five or six larger gas chambers. I cannot say exactly how many
people these large gas chambers held. If the small gas chambers
could hold 80-100 people, the large ones could probably hold twice
that number ...
the arrival of a transport, six to eight cars would be shunted into
the camp, coming to a halt at the platform there. The commandant,
his deputy Franz, Kuettner and Stadie or Maetzig would be here
waiting as the transport came in. Further SS members were also
present to supervise the unloading: for example, Genz and Belitz had
to make absolutely sure that there was no one left in the car after
the occupants had been ordered to get out.
the Jews had got off, Stadie or Maetzig would have a short word with
them. They were told something to the effect that they were a
resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath and that
they would receive new clothes. They were also instructed to
maintain quiet and discipline. They would continue their journey the
the transports were taken off to the so-called "transfer"
area. The women had to undress in huts and the men out in the open.
The women were than led through a passageway, known as the
"tube", to the gas chambers. On the way they had to pass a
hut where they had to hand in their jewelry and valuables ..."
of Kurt Franz on Treblinka. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E.
Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988., p. 247-249:
cannot say how many Jews in total were gassed in Treblinka. On
average each day a large train arrived. Sometimes there were even
two. This however was not so common.
Treblinka I was commander of the Ukrainian guard unit as I had been
in Belzec. In Treblinka as in Belzec the unit consisted of sixty to
eighty men. The Ukrainians' main task was to man the guard posts
around the camp perimeter. After the uprising in August 1943 I ran
the camp more or less single-handedly for a month; however, during
that period no gassings were undertaken.
was during that period that the original camp was demolished.
Everything was leveled off off and lupines were planted ..."
of SS Oberscharführer Heinrich Matthes about Treblinka. Quoted in Belzec,
Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana
University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 121:
the entire time I was in Treblinka, I served in the upper camp. The
upper camp was that part of Treblinka with the gas chambers, where
the Jews were killed and their corpses laid in large pits and later
fourteen Germans carried out services in the upper camp. There were
two Ukrainians permanently in the upper camp. One of them was called
Nikolai, the other was a short man, I don't remember his name ...
These two Ukrainians who lived in the upper camp served in the gas
chambers. They also took care of the engine room when Fritz Schmidt
was absent. Usually this Schmidt was in charge of the engine room.
In my opinion, as a civilian he was either a mechanic or a driver
together, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate,
about 300 people could enter each gas chamber. The people went into
the gas chamber without resistance. Those who were at the end, the
Ukrainian guards had to push inside. I personally saw how the
Ukrainians pushed the people with their rifle butts ...
gas chambers were closed for about thirty minutes. Then Schmidt
stopped the gassing, and the two Ukrainians who were in the engine
room opened the gas chambers from the other side."
of SS Scharführer Erich Fuchs, in the Sobibor-Bolender trial,
Dusseldorf. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation
Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad,
1987, p. 31-32:
unloaded the motor. It was a heavy Russian benzene engine, at least
200 horsepower. We installed the engine on a concrete foundation and
set up the connection between the exhaust and the tube.
then tested the motor. It did not work. I was able to repair the
ignition and the valves, and the motor finally started running. The
chemist, who I knew from Belzec, entered the gas chamber with
measuring instruments to test the concentration of the gas.
this, a gassing experiment was carried out. If my memory serves me
right, about thirty to forty women were gassed in one gas chamber.
The Jewish women were forced to undress in an open place close to
the gas chamber, and were driven into the gas chamber by the above
mentioned SS members and the Ukrainian auxiliaries. when the women
were shut up in the gas chamber I and Bolender set the motor in
The motor functioned first in neutral. Both of us stood by the motor
and switched from "Neutral" to "Cell", so that
the gas was conveyed to the chamber. At the suggestion of the
chemist, I fixed the motor on a definite speed so that it was
unnecessary henceforth to press on the gas. About ten minutes later
the thirty to forty women were dead."