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March 27, 1964 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-03-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Auschwitz Children Played •
`Game' With 'Uncle Mengele

From JTA News Wires
FRANKFURT — "Going to
the Gas Chamber" was the name
of a grim game the doomed
children of Auschwitz used to
play, a former inmate at the
extermination camp testified in
a choking voice.
Dutch Royal Marine Col. An-
tonius Franz Van Velsen de-
scribed the game of death at the
trial of 22 former Auschwitz-
Birkenau administrators and
medical corpsmen for killing
millions of Jews.
"They (the children) knew
what was going on," Van Vel-
sen said. "They played gas
chamber and kidded each other
by saying, 'You'll go through
the crematory chimney.' "
Dr. Josef Mengele, Aus-
chwitz' chief doctor called
the "Angel of Death," joined
the children's "game," Van
Velsen said. The children
had liked Mengele, now being
hunted throughout the world.
"He gave them chocolate.
He particularly cared for 16
pairs of twins he needed for
his so-called experiments. The
kids cried, 'Hello, here comes
Uncle Mengele' when he
came.
"They didn't know Uncle
Mengele well enough."
Van Velsen's voice rose al-
most to a scream when he de-
scribed Mengele's role. 'When
it was their time to really go to
the gas chamber, the children
rushed to Mengele and pleaded
with him, "Uncle Mengele,
Uncle Mengele, we won't be
gassed will we?"
Mengele soothed them, Van
Velsen said, and promised them
they would go to the women's
camp. "He then had them
taken away in ambulances—
and sent straight to the gas
chambers.
"The pairs of twins caught
They began screaming.
on.
Mengele took a pistol and per-
sonally shot each one of them,"
Van Velsen said.
A description was given of
how Jewish victims at Aus-
chwitz were forced by an SS
officer called "a killer" to
sing songs while on their
way to the gas chambers.
Hermann H. Biermanski, who
spent five years at Auschwitz,
named Wilhelm Boger, one of
the defendants, as the man who
made the Jews sing on their
way to their death. Boger, ac-
Cording to Biermanski, had "a
reputation as a killer" even be-
fore he had been assigned to
Auschwitz.
The Nazi, one of the princi-
pal defendants, grinned in the
Court room as another witness
described how Boger beat him
mercilessly into unconscious-
ness, revived him with a bucket
of cold water, then placed him
in a "stand-up cell" for 93 days.
The witness was Hugo Peter
Breiden of Stuttgart, who had
spent four • years at Auschwitz
for a criminal offense. Pointing
a finger at Boger, and sobbing
convulsively, Breiden shouted
"you murderer, you." Boger
seemed not to care.
An Auschwitz survivor, who
doesn't "want to be fired
from my nice job," refused
to back up pretrial testimony
about Boger. A hotel cook in
Stuttgart, he said, "I want to
have" peace of mind. I suffer
under the memories. Testi-
fying could hurt me."
The witness, whose name was
not revealed, was asked by the
court president if he feared an
act of revenge if he were to
testify. "No," the witness re-
plied hesitatingly, but added as

an afterthought, "It could be."
When the court president re-
minded him of the importance
of the trial, the witness replied,
"But the attitude of our guests
is different."
Judges and observers were
puzzled by the refusal of the
witness to repeat serious accu-
sations made against Boger. It
was disclosed later that the wit-
ness was sent to Auschwitz as
a homosexual. At the court
president's request, his name
was not made public.
In pretrial testimony, the
witness had said Boger had
participated in the hanging
of prisoners, the beating to
death of infant children and
the torture of many inmates.
When asked abOut this, the
•witness at first said he could
not remember and then ac-
knowledged that he was
frightened.
Boger was mentionedby other
witnesses. Paul Leo Scheidl,
67, of Munich, showed a model
of a torture instrument, de-
signed by Boger, which was
known by camp inmates as the
Boger seesaw. Using a doll, the
survivor demonstrated how pris-
oners were tied to an iron bar
so their heads would face the
ground.
Boger appeared unmoved un-
til Scheidl said the former
sergeant had shot two prisoners
at the so-called Black Wall.
"It is a fact today and will
be a fact 1,000 years hence that
I never shot a prisoner at
Auschwitz," Boger shouted nerv-
ously.
A Jewish restaurant owner
of Ludwigshafen, Willie Leeu-
warden, testified that Boger
once threw a Polish prisoner
from an office window after
beating him beyond recogni-
tion. When Leeuwarden tried
to take the man some water,
Boger c a 1 le d h im in and
punched and kicked him, the
witness said.
When Boger later commanded
him to take the Polish inmate
to another barracks, Leeuwar-
den said, the victim "was dead
before we could get there."
Leeuwarden, who was 21
when he was sent to Auschwitz,
described how prisoners were
kept in a punishment cell that
forced them to stand upright.
"I was there for eight nights,"
he said. "During the day, I had
to go out with a work gang."
Another witness said one in-
mate was kept in the cell 18
days until he died of starva-
tion.
Boger said Leeuwarden's tes-
timony was "partly true," but
that he never beat a prisoner to
death.
While the mass trial of the
22 continued, Dr. Joachim
Greiff, president of the
Frankfurt Provincial Court,
announced that a series of
other major war crimes trials
have been scheduled to open
soon.
On April 27, he said, Hermann
Krumey and Otto Hunsche,
both aides to the late Adolf
Eichmann, will go on trial here.
The indictment against Kru-
mey alleges he was responsible
for the death of 437,402 Hun-
garian Jews.
Hunsche is accused of having
been Kr um ey's assistant.
Hunsche is already serving a
five-year prison sentence for
complicity in the murder of
Hungarian Jews.
On May 25, Dr. Greiff said,
two more ex-Auschwitz officers
will go on trial. One, Wilhelm
Burger, will be charged with
having procured the Zyclon-B
gas used in the Birkenau gas
chambers for killing Jews. The
second, Josef Erber, has been
indicted for having selected
prisoners for the Birkenau gas
chambers.
In addition, Dr. Greiff de-
clared, two batches of 10 ex-

SS officers each will face sep-
arate trials for killing Hun-
garian Jews at Auschwitz.
Still later, former Nazi po-
lice officers who had killed
many thousands of Jews in •
Pinsk, in 1942, will face an-
other count.
At Cologne, Werner Schnone-
mann, 52, a former SS officer,
went on trial on charges of re-
sponsibility in the shooting of
at least 3,197 Jewish men, wom-
en and children, as well as So-
viet war prisoners, in Poland
and Byelorussia, in 1941. He
also faced a second charge of
assisting in the shooting of an-
other 800 Jews.
A former SS major told a
court at Brunswick trying five
other former SS officers on
charges of slaughtering 5,200
Jews Wednesday that he had
been court martialed for refus-
ing to obey a wartime order to
round up Jews and to shoot
them.
Franz Klaus, 63, was a pros-
ecution witness against the
five former officers of the
second Cavalry Regiment of
the SS. They are accused of
complicity in the killing of
the Jews in Pinsk in White
Russia. The five defendants
have contended that refusal
to obey orders to kill the Jews
in Pinsk would have meant
their own execution.
Klaus testified that he was
reduced to the rank of private
and sentenced to five years in
jail for his refusal. The sen-
tence later was commuted to
permanent serving in front-
line "suicide commando"
squads on the Russian front.
Former Gen. Von Dem Bach
Zelowski, now serving a life
sentence for the murder of Jews
and partisans during the war,
also testified. He said, "I doubt
if Gestapo head Heinrich Himm-
ler would ever have put up for
court martial an officer who
refused to obey such orders."
He said this was so because
such action would have made
public knowledge of the fact
that such orders were being is-
sued. He added that "maybe
Major Klaus did not realize he
was risking his life."
* * *

away before October 1, 1953"
but who so far have received no
compensation; and
3. Compensation for persons
whose health suffered because
of internment in labor camps or
ghettos "or for reasons of per-
secution have lived hidden un-
der inhuman circumstances" on
a level equal to those who have
received compensation as a re-
sult of "incarceration in a con-
centration camp." •
The resolution also asked
that "persecutees unable under
the provision of the German
restitution law to comply with
the key provision of proving
the transfer of seized property
to the geographical area pre-
scribed by the law should have
the opportunity to register their
claim and, therefore, the reg-
istration dates under the law
should be reopened.
* *

$100,000 For Day School
• MEMPHIS, (JTA)—A contri-
bution of $100,000 by Sam Mar-
golin, Memphis Jewish leader,
marked the launching of a cam-
paign to raise $500,000 for the
Endowment Fund of the He-
brew Academy, an Orthodox-
sponsored all-day school.

Rabbis to Petition Bonn
for Grave Restoration

NEW YORK, . (JTA) — A
campaign has begun to gather
1 million signatures to peti-
tion the West German govern-
ment for indemnification to-
ward restoration of graves in
various European countries des-
ecrated by the Nazis. The peti-
tion drive was launched here by
the American section of the

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Nazi Victims in N.Y.
Hold Protest Meeting
on Restitution Lag

NEW YORK, (JTA) — More
than 1,500 men and women who
survived the horrors of Nazi
concentration camps met at the
Hotel Americana here to pro-
test against the proposed
amendments to the West Ger-
man indemnification and resti-
tution laws. They consider the
amendments insufficient to meet
the needs of the thousands of
persons who, for one reason or
another, have not reecived just
restitution or indemnification
from the Bonn government.
The meeting, sponsored by
nine groups, adopted a resolu-
tion which was sent to West
German Prime Minister Lud-
wig Erhard, Foreign Minister
Gerhard Schraeder and Finance
Minister Rolf Dahlgruen.
Paying tribute to the contri-
bution of the West German Re-
public for what it has done in
"the field of compensation," the
resolution pointed out that
many Nazi persecutees, who
have received no restitution or
indemnification, "have not only
a moral but also an indisputable
right to be compensated for
their sufferings." The resolu-
tion requested:
1. Equal rights for persecu-
tees "who left the eastern bloc
countries after the deadline of
October 1, 1953" who have re-
ceived no compensation from
the German government;
2. Equality of treatment for
widows "whose husbands passed

World Center of European
Rabbis.
According to the organization,
special Nazi battalions had de-
stroyed Jewish cemeteries in
the Soviet Union, Poland, Hun-
gary, Romania, Czechoslovakia,
France, Holland and Belgium.
Efforts to obtain signatures to
the petition will be made in
all parts of the free world, the
organizations leaders declared.

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