BEFORE: The Honourable Judge H. R. Locke and a Jury
P. GRIFFITHS, Esq. For the Crown
D. CHRISTIE, Esq. For the Accused
The Court House
361 University Avenue
[beginning] January 7, 1985
[Testimony of Dr Rudolf Vrba: pages 1244-1644 of the transcript of the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial in Toronto, hereinafter reproduced verbatim and containing numerous instances of defective grammar, syntax, and spelling. Suggested editorial corrections , written with bold letters, are put in brackets.]
[--- R. Vrba sworn in as witness: Monday, January 21, 1985 at 2:45 p.m.]
EXAMINATION-IN-CHIEF BY MR GRIFFITHS :
Q. Sir, I understand that you are now an associate professor in pharmacology at the University of British Columbia.
A. That's right.
Q. And that you have been in Canada
for how long?
A. Since '67.
A. Yes, with the exception of two years when I was in Boston.
Q. And before 1967 I understand you were in England for a period of time?
A. That's right. Since 1960 through 1967 I was on the staff of the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom.
Q. What is your field of interest in particular?
A. My specialty was the chemistry of the brain.
Q. Chemistry of the brain?
Q. And you have a doctorate?
A. I have a doctorate in chemistry, and a higher degree, a candidate of immunochemistry -- that means the chemical composition -- of the brian [brain] .
Q. Before you went to England where were you; what country were you living in?
A. I was born in Czechoslovakia on September 11, 1924. I lived in Czechoslovakia until 1939 when Czechoslovakia was dismembered, and from '39 onwards I lived in a puppet Slovakia in a puppet state which was under German rule with local underlings ruling until 1942.
In June of 1940  I have been deported to the concentration camp of Maidanek where I was fourteen days.
Q. You were two weeks in Maidanek?
A. Two weeks.
Q. And from Maidanek were you taken someplace else?
A. On 20 June, 1942, I was put into a cattle truck and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp where I arrived on June 30, 1942, and I stayed in Auschwitz until April 7, 1944, when I escaped and returned to Slovakia.
Q. All right. We will hear about your escape in due course. We have heard that there are a number of different camps that are called Auschwitz. Can you tell us which camp you were taken to?
A. I was taken to the camp which was called Auschwitz I. I was in that camp from 30 June, 1942 until 15th January, 1943.
Q. All right. And did you have some ---
A. And from 15 January, 1943, I was transferred to the camp called Auschwitz II, which is called Birkenau.
THE COURT: Which is called what?
THE WITNESS: Birkenau. And that was also officially called Auschwitz II, and there I was until April 7, 1944.
Q. Can you tell us whether you did any work when you were in Auschwitz I?
A. In Auschwitz I?
Q. Yes. The main camp.
A. In Auschwitz I for the first two months, this means for the first two years, two months, in July and August, I have been working on an enterprise which was called Buna, which was not far from Auschwitz, and it
later was built up into Auschwitz III, and was supposed to be rubber, synthetic rubber factory.
Q. All right. Were you working in the factory?
A. No. It was a building site, and the complex belonged to E. [I] G. Farben, who used to borrow slave labour from Auschwitz I; and I was taken there every morning as a slave labourer, and brought in the evening to Auschwitz I for two months, roughly.
Q. All right. I would like you to describe for us, if you can, what a day would be like when you were working at Buna.
A. At Buna?
Q. Yes. First of all, what time in the morning would you be awakened?
A. We would be woken up at three o'clock in the morning and marched up to a train which was in front of the gate of Auschwitz I. We would be counted when we came out from the barrack, then we would be counted when we came out from the gate, and then we would be counted again when we entered the barracks, and then we waited until the wagons moved to the building site, and the train moved to a station which I remember was called Dwory, and there we were unloaded and marched to a building site which was in the distance of approximately three kilometers.
So this whole procedure of the travel in the train that we were loaded in numbers, a hundred people or so to the wagon, from three o'clock in the morning we would start working approximately to eight o'clock in the morning.
Q. Now, from three o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the morning had you been given anything to eat or drink?
Q. Were you given anything before you start work?
A. We worked from eight to twelve under a certain order of work, and at twelve o'clock, from twelve o'clock to one, we had a pause, and then we were given a litre of soup for five. This means, the soup for five people was given in one plate for five, and without spoons, and another plate was given for five which contained some sort of tea, which was the only liquid which we could take -- water was not available.
Q. Was there any water available at the construction site that you could drink?
A. There was water available on the construction site, but it was known that the water was infected with diarrhea bacteria, and we were warned by all the prisoners that anybody who will drink from it will die.
Q. Did you see anybody drink from it?
A. Many drank and many died. In other words, those who couldn't overcome the thirst in August and who drank that water was done for.
Q. Was there any security at the Buna works when you were working there?
A. Well, we were constantly being counted, and as we came out of the train we marched to
to the Buna quota with the Waffen S.S. guards -- they were armed guards -- on both sides of the column; and when we reached the building site, then the whole building site was surrounded by those S.S.
So at the building site we were left more to ourselves, more or less, but the building site, however, was divided into small quadrangles which were about ten meters long. And at each quadrangle was standing an S.S. man guard with rifle in the hand, and we were told that nobody can go outside of his rectangle in which he is supposed to go. This means, anybody who crossed that rectangle, which was clearly marked, was shot.
Q. Did you see anybody cross that rectangle?
A. Well, I saw frequently being shot people crossing that rectangle, because one of the jokes was that the prisoners were guarded by ---
MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, I think ---
THE WITNESS: By the S.S. guards ---
THE COURT: Excuse me.
MR CHRISTIE: Excuse me, please. Your Honour, this is not someone who so far has been qualified to give hearsay, and I think we are getting into the realm of jokes and stories and statements that otherwise should not be given. I'd like the witness to confine himself just to what he saw and what he knows for himself.
THE COURT: What do you say to that, Mr Griffiths?
MR GRIFFITHS: Well, I appreciate
what my friend is saying. I agree with him, although the joke is a physical joke that is visual that he can describe what he saw.
THE COURT: Well, if he can do it in that way, I don't think that Mr Christie will object to that; but if he does it in another way, he might.
Q. (MR GRIFFITHS): Just describe for us what you saw.
A. The German prisoners who were professional criminals and were marked as such with a green triangle would come to individual prisoners, take off their hat, the prisoner's hat, and threw it over the perimeter, the ten meter perimeter, telling him, "Run for the hat." If the prisoner did not run for the hat, then he would be beaten with wooden sticks for not obeying the order of the Kapo; if he ran for the hat, he would be shot down by the S.S. men.
I am perfectly aware that this is not a joke, but it was considered a joke there, and that's why I use the inappropriate word "joke". I apologize for it. So in this way quite a number of people were killed during a day, also people who claimed that they cannot carry on with their hard work.
For instance, we had to carry cement in paper satchels.
Q. Bags of cement.
A. Bags of cement, yes. They are considerably heavy. I do not know exactly what their weight was, but they were standard bags which I see, and one had to carry that bag of cement over a certain distance running. And those who claimed that they cannot
run any more were sort of propelled or encouraged to run by beating with clubs; and those who refused afterward were simply beaten so long until they gave any sign of life. And then, in the evening, we collected numbers very carefully so that the numbers of prisoners who worked there, alive, had to come into the camp. The mortality per day could end up five to ten per cent of the column.
Q. Five to ten per cent of the total?
A. Yes. This means the chances to survive over three weeks on that working place were considered to be slim.
Q. After you have the soup and the tea at lunchtime, do you go back to work in the afternoon?
Q. Can you tell us -- I appreciate you never watched. Can you tell us how long you'd be working in the afternoon, how long the working day would be?
A. Well, at twelve o'clock a siren sounded, and at one o'clock again a siren was sounded. The one marching would start and the other marching would end of the working day. Again at noon another siren sounded, but this I don't know exactly what time, but it was our rule that a prisoner shouldn't be kept outside, even guarded, in dark. So this means that we were supposed to come back into the camp before the sun set.
Q. Now, you said it was about three kilometers from the Buna works to where the train would pick you up.
Q. And how would you, the people that
were injured or had died during the day, how would they get to the train?
A. Well, the dead and the injured were carried by the prisoners who were not dead. In other words, say we went there fifteen hundred people in the morning, but each of those hundred people had sepaarate Kapos, and that Kapo had the list of his prisoners, and he wouldn't move out from the building state, building place, until all his prisoners which he had a list of by numbers wouldn't be collected. So this means we were again on a certain place with a certain Kapo, all hundred of us, alive or dead. And then the column was formed and when the column was formed the Kapo picked out those who would carry those who cannot go. So we had some who claimed that they will go if they are supported, and so they were put into the march column, and then there were some who were dead, and then there were some who were dying, or definitely not able to walk even after being encouraged to do so with clubbing, and they were carried by the prisoners in such a way that one prisoner would have his head over the shoulder, and the other prisoner would have his legs over the shoulder. So the two prisoners carried a third one, either a dead one or a dying one.
Q. Something happened, Dr Vrba, at the end of two months, approximately, at Buna, that got you out of Buna?
A. Yes. I got out from Buna under the following conditions:
The camp Auschwitz I, until that time, consisted of two parts with a wall was decided in the middle, and behind that wall were women. Mostly the women
were from Slovakia. Slovakian and Jewish girls. Some of them I knew, and there was conversation. Now, there broke out a typhus epidemy in that female camp, and also there was a typhus epidemy in the male camp, and there was a danger that by going to Buna -- and we had to cross various villages, we will carry the typhus out from the camp. So the workings at Buna was stopped for a few days, and the women from the women camp, female camp, were taken away. As far as I know, they were taken to ---
Q. No, don't tell us -- only tell us what you saw with your own eyes.
A. They were taken away.
Q. All right.
A. After they were taken away, the barracks were disinfected. After the barracks were disinfected, all of us who were men, in our camp number one, had to dress out naked, and we were naked for approximately one or two days during which we were given showers and we were shaven all over the body -- this means hair and body hair, pubic hair, and so on. And then a hole was made through this wall of the ex-female camp, and we were let in one by one into this new camp, naked and disinfected.
However, before this happened we had to go through a commission, and this was a medical commission where they should have proven that we are healthy. The proof consisted of the following test:
There was a doctor and an S.S. man with a lamp, because it was going on day and night. So by that time I was proven to be -- I was supposed to be medically examined. I was put in front of this reflector and I was ordered to run about twenty yards one way and
back. Now, those who wobbled during those twenty yards, which is a characteristic sign of typhus ---
MR CHRISTIE: Excuse me, Your Honour. I am aware of this particular narrative and I am aware that at this juncture certain statements, in my understanding, will embark into the realm of hearsay, and if my friend wishes, I can speak about it in the absence of the jury, but I would ask my friend to direct the witness in that regard.
THE COURT: Do you know what is coming, Mr Griffiths?
MR GRIFFITHS: Yes, Your Honour. I must say I am not sure what Mr Christie is concerned about. Perhaps Mr Christie can tell me whether this warning will be satisfactory.
Q. Just don't tell us what other people said.
A. No. I ---
THE COURT: Just listen.
MR GRIFFITHS: Just describe what you saw.
A. I described exactly what I saw.
Q. Not what you heard, but what you saw.
A. Yes. Until now I described only what I saw.
A. I was ....
THE COURT: You were running back and forth, did you say, for how long?
THE WITNESS: Just twenty yards forth
and twenty yards back.
THE COURT: How many times?
THE WITNESS: Once.
THE COURT: Thank you.
THE WITNESS: And on judging how I was running, the commission decided.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: All right. Did they put you in a group?
A. They put me in a group which did not run too well.
Q. All right.
A. Because I was hurting by my shoes; I had trouble with my feet.
Q. Were you able to change groups?
A. Well, it was dark, and a Polish Kapo came to me, who knew me, and he said to me ---
Q. Don't tell us what he said, but he said something to you?
A. He said to me ---
THE COURT: No, you can't say what he said. Sorry, Dr Vrba. Don't tell us what he said, but he said something to you.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: And were you able to move your position?
A. Yes. He pretended that he is beating me and put me in the position of those he thought to be perfectly healthy.
Q. All right. Did you see what happened to those who wobbled during their run?
A. We were standing until cars came.
This means lorries. And then people were ordered to enter the lorries and the lorries left the camp.
Q. Did you see any of them again?
Q. Did you know anybody in that group?
Q. Now, you were in the so-called healthy group.
Q. Did you go back to work at Buna?
A. No. Next morning, after the so-called unhealthy were eliminated from the camp, we were taken to a hole between the male and the female camp in the wall, a hole in the wall, and there were again two men who disinfected us from top to bottom with a rag in lysol, and we entered, then, naked, this disinfected camp of the women and I stayed there, in that camp, in Block IV, in a different attachment of group, until 15 January, 1943.
Q. All right. Now, many of these words are new to us, so I am going to ask you to describe some words as we go along. What is a "block"?
A. "Block" means a house in Auschwitz I. It was called a block.
Q. How many people would be living in a block?
A. There would be a variation, from five hundred to twelve hundred.
Q. How many were in your block, Block IV?
A. In Block IV, the situation I cannot exactly say, because I was put into the Block IV of the souterrain of Block IV.
Q. Is that underground?
A. Underground, yes. What is it called? A cellar. Then there was the first floor, the ground floor, and then there was an upper floor. And we were put into the ground floor under a new Kommando which was called Kanada.
Q. Is that Kanada with a "K"?
A. "K", that's right. As it is spelled in Europe.
Q. And was there a German word for that Kommando as well?
A. There was a German word which was called Aufraumungskommando, which means clearing command, or clearing-up command. And we were several hundred in that cell area. It was forbidden for me to go to the first floor, ground floor, or to the second floor. So I cannot tell you how many were on the upper floors; but in the down floor I estimate that there might have been, at that moment, three hundred of more people in Block IV, Auschwitz I.
Q. Can you tell us in general what the word "Kommando" means?
A. Whenever the Nazis or the ruling order of the S.S. created a particular group, a task group, that group was called a Kommando. This meant a working group.
Q. A working group.
A. Yes. It was also sometimes they
A. Work commando. And each Kommando has a special title, according to the work they were doing.
Q. All right. I am not going to use the German word. I will use the more familiar word, Kanada.
A. Kanada, it was known in the camp, yes. The Kanadakommando.
Q. Can you tell us what you did with the Kanadakommando?
A. I think I should show it, perhaps on a ....
Q. All right. Just a minute.
A. But I can describe it without.
MR GRIFFITHS: Your Honour, can I speak to you in the absence of the jury for just a moment, please?
THE COURT: Excuse us just a moment, members of the jury, please.
--- The jury retires. 3:10 p.m.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour. Dr Vrba has prepared, Your Honour, a number of transparencies that would be suitable for an overhead projector and screen which I have in my office and can have in the courtroom very quickly. The transparencies, Your Honour, are of maps of the surrounding area, and more
immediate maps of the particular camps to be able to show -- the purpose of them is to be able to show his movements within the camp and his opportunity to observe various things within the camp.
He has brought a grease pencil, and the transparencies, Your Honour, would be available to be made as exhibits, as marked by Dr Vrba. At this point there are no additional markings on them. They are simply maps, outlines.
THE COURT: What are transparencies?
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Do you have them here, Doctor?
THE COURT: And has Mr Christie seen them?
MR GRIFFITHS: No, he has not, Your Honour.
MR CHRISTIE: I am sure if I just glanced at them -- and I am quite delighted my friend is doing this because it will help the jury to understand ....
THE COURT: Thank you. Do you have some more?
THE WITNESS: Yes, please.
THE COURT: We have all that are going to be relevant here, so that we don't wast time?
MR GRIFFITHS: I think those are the ones that are relevant to the discussion.
THE WITNESS: May I have a look if I gave you the relevant ones? Those are relevant. The other ones I would like to see. These are relevant.
MR CHRISTIE: I was prepared to introduce some of these very same documents, or attempt
to, myself. So I don't object to any of these.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Now, just so that we are clear, Dr Vrba, so His Honour knows, Mr Christie knows, there are two transparencies that are framed in white.
Q. Can you tell us what the source of those two transparencies are? Who drew those?
A. I drew those in June -- in April 25th, 1944, in Slovakia, after I escaped from Auschwitz.
Q. All right.
A. And I received the copies from the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America, dated November '44, and those are pages number 40 ---
Q. My question, really, Dr Vrba, is whether you recognize those, and you say yes, you did those yourself.
A. That's right.
Q. Now, the other documents, or maps -- and there are five of them ....
Q. .... can you tell us the source of those?
A. Those are the maps which have been published during the trial at which I was a witness. This was in 1964 in Frankfurt where war criminals from Auschwitz were tried, and I have been there as a witness, and that court used maps in order to illustrate what the witnesses are saying so that the jury could follow photographically the movements.
Q. All right. So these are not maps prepared by you, but you have them out of a book, do you?
A. Yes, I have them out of the book which is called -- two books. One book is "Auschwitz Process, [Prozess]" they are taken from this book. And the rest of them is taken from a recent publication which is published by Professor Martin Gilbert, and it is called "Auschwitz and the Allies," a book which appeared in 1981 and brought additional maps, and I made copies because they would enable me easier to describe my movements within the complex of the camp.
Q. These are not on the transparencies here yet.
A. I think they are, some of them.
Q. These are the ones you asked me to make the transparencies ---
A. No. The ones I asked you to make the transparencies are those two.
Q. The ones from Dr Gilbert are which, can you clarify? Sorry, Your Honour. Just so we are clear as to the source of the material.
A. Plans from Auschwitz, page 129. This is from the court in Auschwitz, this map.
Q. All right. And that is a map called, "Plane [Plan] von Auschwitz".
THE COURT: As long as that is identified by you for the moment, Mr Griffiths.
Gentlemen, can I do this? I am satisfied on what I've heard from counsel for the accused as well as from this witness that there doesn't appear, at this moment, to be any objection to this witness
referring to these transparencies, some of which he has sworn he created himself, others created for him, and all of them have been seen by Mr Christie. I am not sure that Mr Christie has examined them all at any depth at the moment, he never having seen them before. I am thinking of adjourning now for ten minutes or so. The jury can drink some coffee, Mr Griffiths and Mr Christie can examine these transparencies, and I think we are far enough down the line, gentlemen, that I could reasonably anticipate that there will be a consent to this witness referring to these things as he testifies.
Does that sound reasonable to you, Mr Christie?
MR CHRISTIE: Yes, sir. Indeed.
THE COURT: Does that sound reasonable to you?
MR GRIFFITHS: Yes. Just one other matter that I would like to get assistance from Your Honour, so that I don't waste any court's time, is that if we did have some consent, I would like to have everything set up for when the jury comes back in, and I guess the question would be, physically, the best way to do that, I was going to suggest that, perhaps, I set the screen up down towards where the television is, and the projector would be here or in the middle of the courtroom.
THE COURT: When you say "here", you are talking about ....
MR GRIFFITHS: Crown counsel table, which would mean Dr Vrba would be down near the projector while he is giving his testimony concerning the maps, Your Honour.
THE COURT: Does he mark on the transparency itself which will be on the projector projecting on the screen?
MR GRIFFITHS: Yes. He marks on the transparency, and it shows on the screen.
THE WITNESS: I can mark on a transparency which is empty over that transparency.
THE COURT: That is something that I think can be discussed with counsel, Dr Vrba.
The only other problem I have, gentlemen, is this. The accused has to see precisely what is going on, Mr Christie has to see what is going on, and of no little importance is that the jury must see the same thing. You might want to consider putting the projector on counsel table behind you so that the line of vision of all the jurors ---
MR GRIFFITHS: Projected up into the corner, Your Honour, perhaps.
THE COURT: That is something you and Mr Christie can work out. As long as the jury has the best view along with the accused, I am content, as long as counsel are.
--- Short adjournment.
--- Upon resuming.
MR GRIFFITHS: I think we are ad idem, Your Honour, Mr Christie and I, that there was one transparency that Mr Christie was concerned about, and I agree with him. It was something showing things after Dr Vrba
had left Auschwitz, so we are not including that in the group that Dr Vrba will be referring to.
THE COURT: Is that correct, Mr Christie?
MR CHRISTIE: I didn't quite hear my friend.
THE COURT: He said there is one transparency that is not going to be used that you have seen and that will not be used.
MR CHRISTIE: Yes. I have suggested to my friend that I have twelve copies of a photocopy of the gentleman's map drawn in 1944 which he referred to, and I also have photocopies, twelve, available for the jury so they might follow along, of the schematic plan of Auschwitz II, of Birkenau, which I had intended to tender and I have offered to provide now, if it meets with the approval of both the witness and the Crown, so that the jury will have something in their hands to follow along with, even afterwards. I think it probably will help them, and that is why I am offering it.
THE COURT: Mr Griffiths?
MR GRIFFITHS: I am obliged to Mr Christie for his suggestion, Your Honour. I think the reason why I have selected to do it this way is that Dr Vrba and I were not having a huddled conversation at the witness box, and we all know what we are talking about and where it is, and I prefer to do that. With rare exceptions I don't like to put documents directly in the hands of the jury. I think it is distracting for them from the evidence.
THE COURT: I think at the appropriate
time Mr Christie, if you wish, you can ask that they be distributed to the jury, especially when cross-examination time comes around.
MR CHRISTIE: Thank you, sir.
THE COURT: Bring in the jury, please.
--- The jury enters. 3:45 p. m.
THE COURT: Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour. In the absence of the jury, Your Honour, I have set up an overhead projector and a screen, and Dr Vrba has some transparencies that he's made on some various maps of Auschwitz I and II and the surrounding area and will be using the screen and the maps to help describe his evidence in a loud, clear voice next to the projector.
THE COURT: Yes, he may do that.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, sir.
THE COURT: Members of the jury, when you are looking at the screen that appears before you, if any of your number have difficulty seeing what's on the screen, please don't hesitate to hold up your hand and we will make sure that you can see it. I am just not sure how the logistics of all this will work until we try it.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Dr Vrba, the question that I asked you, I believe, immediately prior to the break ---
THE COURT: Just hold it, Mr
Griffiths. Dr Vrba, would you please stand on this side, towards our Clerk, with your back to me and facing the accused and the jury so that everybody can hear. How is that? Is that all right with you?
THE WITNESS: It is perfectly fine.
THE COURT: Can the jury see that? Go ahead.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
Q. Dr Vrba, I believe that the question that I asked you was what it was that you were working on in the Kanadakommand, what duties that entailed. You are living, you told us, in Auschwitz I from June 30, 1942, to January 15, 1943. Do you have a map or an overall plan there that would show both Auschwitz II, which we've been calling Birkenau?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. All right. Would you put that on the screen, then, please?
A. This is the map as I could reconstruct it from memory roughly after my escape. There is another map which is more exact which was produced by the Court in Frankfurt and copied from books.
Q. And you have some copies of other maps here, do you?
Q. And first of all, can you tell us which way is north and which way is south on your map?
A. On my map south happens to be here, on this projection, south happens to be here. North is here. East is here and west is here. In other words, it was in
my mind, due to some error in my education at the age of ten, £I had a sort of ---
Q. So where do you always put "south" on your maps?
A. Well, if I draw it by heart, say if I see a place, then I would draw it as I draw it now.
Q. At the bottom.
A. No. At the top here.
Q. The writing, Dr Vrba, just so I am clear, the writing is not upside down, so if you usually put "south" at the top, wouldn't that be the reverse?
A. Yes. I am afraid I have made you an error because of how this is positioned.
Q. It is different from what shows on the screen.
Q. "South" is at the top, "North" is at the bottom.
A. South is at the top, right. South is this way.
A. I'm sorry for this because this is a mirror. I wasn't aware of it. If I read it this way, then "south" is here, and "east" is here, and "north" is here.
Q. Thank you, Doctor.
A. Sorry for this.
Q. All right. Now, as we are looking at the map now, the map you drew, which is the Auschwitz I and which is the Auschwitz II camp?
A. At that time, when I was in Auschwitz
from June 30 to January 15, the camp, Auschwitz I, is this. This is the so-called, this is where we were overnight. If you wish, I can show you this small piece magnified.
Q. Okay. We will go to the details as we go on, Dr Vrba. This is where the Auschwitz I camp is.
A. The Auschwitz I camp is, therefore, here.
Q. There's I. Now, where's Birkenau on your map?
A. Birkenau on my map is here. This whole complex. But this complex I did not see in 1942. I saw that complex for the first time only on one visit in 1942 December, and lived in this complex from 15 January 1943 until the escape on 7 April, 1944.
Q. All right. How far apart is Auschwitz I from Auschwitz II?
A. It would be roughly the walk from here.
Q. From the Auschwitz I camp ---
A. From the Auschwitz I camp to here where there was a gate and a footpath, dirt road. I would judge that it might have been three to four kilometers. I didn't measure it with a yardstick, but I would think that it would be a one-hour march.
Q. Now, while you were working in Auschwitz I, you were working in the Kanadakommando.
Q. And where would you go to work for the Kanadakommando?
A. The Kanadakommando consisting of the day shift and of the night shift, I was given the night but I worked also on day shifts because sometimes the shifts overlap.
Q. Well, would there be different jobs according to day or night?
A. They have completely different jobs according to day or night.
Q. Can you tell us, first of all, about the night job?
A. Yes. For the night job, at any time of the night we would be woken up in our barrack, which was Barrack No. 4, which was approximately a year, and we would be told to go to work, Rollkommando, which meant the rolling group, and guards would come because it was night and we had to march out from this Auschwitz I, which was guarded by electric fences and watchtowers with machine guns, we would be marched out from here in a terraine which, by the night, was not guarded. That crosses show the guard position approximately by daytime only. By nighttime, the prisoners were inside this compound, and the S.S. guards were not around. By daytime the prisoners worked within this area, and therefore by daytime there were no guards around the electric fences, but there were guards standing around the whole camp. So that prisoners could move around with a relative freedom within this perimeter.
Q. Now, you have labelled on the document, on the map, it says, "Outer chain of sentry posts".
Q. And were there, in fact, sentry posts?
A. By daytime there were sentry posts, because by daytime many of those -- here, in Auschwitz, there were many Blocks, many houses. Aufraumungkommando was in Block IV, but there were many others who worked in these factories -- one Block to Krupp, one Block to Siemens, and one was called DAW, which means Deutsche Ausrüstungswereke, which means German armament factories. Consequently, by daytime, when they were taken to the three factories, they were not guarded within those because by daytime there was an outer guard around the whole perimeter, and there was absolutely within the guard posts, between the towers, it was absolutely sort of flat terrain, so that even a mouse would have tried by daytime to cross this would be caught up in a crossfire, machine guns.
Q. Were there any fences between that outer chain of sentry posts?
A. No. There were no sentries here on this outer post. There were just towers and a lot of inscriptions in considerable vicinity around. It was written ---
Q. If you could tell us what the English was ---
MR CHRISTIE: I think it would be hearsay, anyway, if it wasn't within the area where the witness was.
Q. Did you see the posts?
A. Yes, I have, because I was on one occasion taken outside so that I could see it, and I saw the post during my escape. So that the post we are saying,
anybody approaches it by chance, without authorization, will be shot without warning. So by daytime the sentry chain was sort of considered to be impenetrable from the inside or from outside.
Q. Now, during the nighttime you said your rolling commando, or Kanadakommando, would be ordered up sometimes at night; and where would you go and what would you do?
A. We were taken first to the gate, and they were waiting for us, a group of S.S., who took us to the ramp. This means we were marched to this place.
Q. All right. And can you tell us what that is on your map?
A. This means that this was a place which was neither in Auschwitz I nor in Birkenau, but there was a neutral corridor which, de facto, didn't belong to anybody from the camp, because here is a main line from Vienna to Krakow.
Q. What kind of line?
A. Railway line. And here has been made a ramp. This means a blind detachment. And we worked in the night on this ramp, and I would now need to paint details in how it was organized this particular ramp.
Q. All right. Go ahead.
A. Now, I shall concentrate only on this piece.
THE COURT: The first transparency will be the next exhibit.
--- EXHIBIT NO. 11: Transparency -- Approximate Situation Sketch of Auschwitz and Birkenau Camp Districts.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: And that is entitled, "Approximate Situation Sketch of Auschwitz and Birkenau". Now, you've put a clear transparency, have you, on the screen?
A. This is the main railway line. This is south again. This is direction Vienna. This is north. From this railway line, approximately here was Auschwitz railway station, which I could see. From this, as a blind railway line, which was held up here and which was approximately five hundred yards long, meters long -- I didn't measure it with a yardstick, but roughly fifty cattle trucks could be brought in with a locomotive, and there was space enough for fifty cattle trucks, so I would say the cattle truck is ten meters.
Q. Well, space enough for fifty cattle cars.
A. Yes. And a locomotive. In front of this railway line there was a wooden ramp. The wood ramp would be, therefore, long, five hundred to seven hundred and fifty meters, roughly, I would guess, half a mile, and was wide approximately three to four meters like, say, two tables put together in the width. And in front of -- this is a ramp, wooden ramp -- here was a road which ended nowhere and which can be approximately ten meters wide.
Now, our work, then, consisted in the following order whenever we were taken there. Our work command, from 20 August to 7 April, which makes roughly
eight months, which makes roughly two hundred and forty days, roughly. And I was taken out there for this particular work not every day but sometimes three times a day and night. Therefore, the number of times when I have done such work I would say is certainly smaller than three hundred times, but well over a hundred times of this particular job. May I continue?
Q. Please go ahead.
A. We were brought and marched by our guards into this road, and there we had to line in rows of five, all of us, and we could dependant on the situation, anything from a hundred to three hundred prisoners, standing there in hundreds, with the guards standing around us holding guns in their hands, rifles. We had to stnd [stand] so long until came a new detachment of guards from a different place, and they marched in from here and made a chain of guards which I will mark in blue so that it is, perhaps, visible, or black. And this chain looked like this.
Q. You are making circles on your sketch.
A. So this means that they were standing -- this is a queue of chains, because we are in a neutral territory, neither in Auschwitz I nor in Auschwitz II, but in between, in that corridor, so that when they made this chain in this way they had enclosed the ramp. They enclosed this ramp and they enclosed their prisoners, but traffic between Vienna and Krakow could freely move by. And I have seen the train with the dining room quite frequently in the distance of about twenty yards from which I stood, because the distance from this ramp to
p.1274 this line was quite small, maximum twenty meters.
However, because it was now considered that we are enclosed and the whole place was lit with street lamps so that it was light in daytime, these guards were now recalled.
Q. That's the guards around your group from your Kommando?
A. That's right, because they were absolutely unnecessary because there was a new chain of guards. When that happened there came, on foot, a group from here. Here is the road, a path, a footpath to the S.S. Kasernes.
Q. What is Kaserne?
A. Barracks. S.S. Barracks. And I can show on the previous map of various places, and there first marched a group of people who were dressed as S.S. uniforms as non-commissioned officers. This means silver buttons. And when they were there, then came, after them, a smaller group of individuals who were dressed as S.S. officers -- gold here, gold here ---
Q. On the shoulders and on the chest?
A. Yes. Everything gold. Gold ring, everything. They have white gloves. No clubs or anything in their hands. Whereas a non-commissioned officer came in the hands with sticks but not clubs, wooden bamboo walking sticks.
When everything was thus in place the signal was given and a train containing a number of wagons was brought to this ramp. This train came under guards, and the guards came down from the train and the commander went to the commander of the new guards
which was standing here and give him some papers and keys -- I understand papers and keys. After the papers and keys were exchanged, the guard which brought in the train was marched off because they didn't have anything there to do, and the keys were distributed amongst the S.S. non-commissioned officers, Waffen S.S., non-commissioned officers, who took a position in front of each wagon, and those wagons were full of people. These were cattle trucks in those cases, but not always. There was a certain percentage where the people were brought in in a normal third-class train wagons. This was a minority of cases, say one out of twenty trains, one out of ten. Ninety percent came in cattle trucks.
Now, because the cattle trucks were more usual procedure, what happened was that while we were still standing here, you are not allowed to move at all, but stand here under the supervision of the Kapos. The S.S. opened the locks with which the trains were locked, and suddenly all the wagons were opened and we could see the mass of people inside.
Now, the trains were overcrowded with people. I mean, I would judge that there was a variation. There could have been sixty, there could have been eighty, and there could have been hundred people at various occasions per train.
THE COURT: Per ....
THE WITNESS: Per truck, per cattle truck. At that moment the S.S. started to shout at those people inside who, for a long time, obviously, didn't see the doors open, "Alles raus. Alles raus." -- "Everybody out. Everybody out. "Alles ...." -- "Leave everything
I mean, "no luggage take with you". That was the first command they got.
Now, the people were sort of, in general, stunned by the light and by the change, and in order that this whole thing to going, they started now with those walking sticks hit into the first ones when were the open truck and trying to take them out. "Raus. Raus", was the command.
Now, some of them, as they tried to get out, they tried to grab some of their luggage. Now, if it was a handbag, you know, from the size of a ladies' handbag, they let it go by, but if it was a luggage, then they simply hit the person who picked up the luggage with the stick over the hand, broken or not broken, so that the luggage left and the rest very fast understood that the luggage is not to be taken out from that wagon.
The people, then, were lined up on this ramp, and were told to move down from this ramp to this road and were told to separate among men and women, and the order was given that women and children of no matter what sex should go together with the women. So we had two rows, very fast formed up -- a row of women and children, and a row of men. And it was said all children under sixteen should join either the mother or with whomever they came.
Now came a commission when they were lined up of those people, of those individuals who were dressed up as S.S. officers with the gold and the white gloves, and the men had to move across with them, in front of them, and there was a doctor who I knew quite well whose name was Dr Mengele, but often other people not with
officer rank but so-called Sanität .... -- corporal of the sanitation service, he had black insignia on his uniform as belonging to the health service, and they would sort the men as they passed by, either by flick of the finger to go and join the women and the children, or to go to the other side. This was a rather rapid process and often, because people were speaking various languages, the S.S. Doctor or the S.S. sanitary would take the stick and turn the stick so that the round part would stick out, and he would sort out those people by putting the stick against the neck and shoving him left or shoving him right, because there were often cases when there were sons and fathers who didn't want to separate, and they started to plead that they would like to go to work to the same place. So he didn't want very long discussion, often in a foreign language -- they were sometimes Greek, sometimes Dutch -- so he invented a fast sort of communication process by giving this stick, the walking stick on the other hand, put, say, the father this way, and gave him a smack on the back, put the son this way, gave him a smack on the back and shows them where to go, and if necessary, a second or third smack follows so that they understood that they have to part. And this process would take not long, perhaps two hours, and soon we will have on this ramp two columns -- one column of men which would be approximately -- with great variation -- when the transport contained, say, two thousand people, you could expect anything between five to twenty-five percent of men being chosen for this walk, but sometimes none, depend on the situation of the camp. There was a strong variation from five to twenty-five percent.
Similarly a row of women, fifty or hundred goodlooking, young women in the age usually of sixteen to thirty, was set up, and then we had a long column which consisted of old people, of grandmothers, grandfathers, women who had children on hands, either teenagers, twelve or thirteen, or babies, and all those who sort of, during this, didn't show a staid gait or they didn't look healthy. So this was approximately seventy-five to ninety-five percent of the people who arrive.
While this was going on, we were still standing separately and under orders that if any of us exchanges one single word with a newcomer, with that civilian, will be shot.
Q. Did you ever see that happen?
A. Oh, yes. Some try to speak, and some women -- there were scenes like, for example, some women when they saw the officers, they started to sort of thinking that officers are guarantee for their safety because there is a gentleman. So one woman walked up, in my presence, well-dressed woman with two small children, to the officer and she said -- we were dressed in prisoners' garb, and she said to him, "One of these gangsters has told me that I and my children will be gassed."
MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, excuse me. You know, I realize the gentleman wants to give us a full explanation and all, but it's obvious that we aren't in a position to hear this conversation, and I think it's clear it's hearsay.
THE COURT: Mr Griffiths?
MR GRIFFITHS: Well, Your Honour,
I am not really introducing it for the truth of what was said, but for the fact that what happens when somebody says anything, not for the truth of what is said.
THE WITNESS: I overheard the conversation.
THE COURT: Yes, I know that, Doctor. I think that what you should do is ask the witness what, if anything, he saw as a result of any conversation he overheard.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour. I will phrase it in that way.
Q. Dr Vrba, what, if anything, did you see happen as a result of the conversation you may have overheard between this woman and the S.S. officer?
A. The S.S. officer mollified her. He says, "Madam" ---
Q. Don't tell us what he said. Just what you saw happen.
A. Yes. The woman took the S.S. officer to the prisoner and showed which said it.
Q. And what happened to that man?
A. The officer took out the notebook and wrote out the name of the prisoner and went away. When everything was finished and all those people were gone, the officer would come and read the number of that prisoner. The prisoner would come out. The prisoner was taken to the wagons and shot, and we carried the dead body home. Now, may I continue to the general process?
A. The general process now consisted that from somewhere trucks were stationed -- approximately
ten trucks came here in front of this road which leads nowhere.
Q. Excuse me just a moment, Doctor. May I ask you if you can use that map to explain?
THE COURT: The map has already been referred to. It will be Exhibit No. 12.
--- EXHIBIT NO. 12 Transparency describing ramp.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
A. Now, from somewhere, I don't know from where, exactly, the station, ten trucks came. The trucks were open trucks, lorries, which were equipped like when one sends the transport, the contents of the lorry by a press of the button from inside would lift.
Q. Like a dump truck?
A. Dump truck. Now, that people in this group ---
Q. You are indicating the large group of women and children.
A. Yes. Were asked to enter the dump truck. This means there were staircases put to the dump truck and they were counted for hundred. Until hundred were not on the dump truck they were being encouraged to more and more. In other words, the dump truck was loaded to absolute explosion with people. And once the dump truck was loaded it immediately departed to this road.
Now I need the second map, the first which I have shown. Once they were loaded on those trucks
not on all trucks, when a truck was loaded it immediately departed in the direction of Birkenau taking the one and only road which at that time existed with the camp of Auschwitz and the camp of Birkenau. The cars, obviously, here in Birkenau, disgorged the content of humans from these trucks because they were very fast coming back. So that for about two hours there was a brisk traffic between the ramp and this complex, which was complex Birkenau and fast, one truck after the other, took those people away until this column of those old and children and so on completely disappeared. And the old trucks came back. During all this time we were still motionlessly standing on a road somewhere so that we don't interfere with this process.
Now, that's men, and that's women who were so young and goodlooking. There came again two groups of S.S. and one group of S.S. marched the men either in the Auschwitz I for so-called reception as new prisoners, and then other group transported fifty or a hundred women into the women's camp, as far as I knew.
Q. They marched them away. Where was the women's camp at that time?
A. At that time all men were marched from this ramp either in the direction of this camp ---
Q. Auschwitz I.
A. Yes. Or in the direction of this camp.
A. Yes. This means we knew that there is a female camp, but there is also a male camp. So the women were always marched this direction.
Q. To Birkenau.
A. To Birkenau. Whereas the men were sometimes marched to Birkenau and sometimes to Auschwitz I.
Q. Were the ones that you've identified as a smaller group, the five to twenty-five percent, were they ever put on the trucks?
A. No. They had to march, without luggage. They were just marched off. They surrounded them. They were usually marched off before this loading of the old people on the trucks started for certain reasons. It was simply said, "We are now going to work", and guard groups came, surrounded them, because it was night, and in the night they have been taken out from this circle and either marched to Auschwitz I or marched this way to Auschwitz II. And when they were marched off, then this large group started to be loaded on these trucks.
Q. Now, what happened to all their luggage?
A. Now came our job. Now there were no people any more except a small amount of people which either were dead and were still in the wagons -- in other words, the S.S. entered the wagons, not too far in because the wagons were in rather a disgusting shape. They were gathered urine, excrement and blood. And the people were usually coming lying on straw. So the S.S., at least nearby, used their sticks and started, "Schweines aus", which means, "Swine, out". Now if a person went out, it went out and left lying on the ramp.
Q. You are indicating the wooden ramp?
A. On the wooden ramp. Or if he didn't, in spite of the strong urging of the S.S. by beating wherever it fall -- I mean, sometimes on the head sometimes elsewhere, there was a lot of crying going on during this process -- but then the S.S. said, "Fine. That's the end of it." And now our job came.
First we had to empty all luggage, all dead bodies, and all living who cannot move out from the wagons. This means from here we were driven along the wagons, and all the work had to be done running. Anybody who was found loitering around or something like that was immediately without discussion clubbed.
Now, we had to enter the wagons, and the first thing is that we had to throw out the luggage as far as we could from the wagon. Simultaneously, we threw out all people from the wagons. We dragged them out, dead or alive, and put them on this ramp together with the luggage. Now came the trucks back from Birkenau.
Q. The dump trucks?
A. The dump trucks, yes. As they were coming back from Birkenau, we were picking up the luggage from this ramp. This ramp was now full of luggage, all sorts of luggage, from two, three thousand people-- a lot of luggage -- and each of us was supposed to pick up luggage and on the double run to the truck which was here in front. We were called the Rollwagenkommando. And this Rollwagen was basically something in hand-driven truck on rubber wheels so that we didn't actually have to carry always the luggage from the distant points to the trucks, but we came with this Rollwagen, forward drive, dragging it, then jump on the ramp, then jump on the
Rollwagen, then they pass through the lugggages [luggages] on the Rollwagen, and then we jump down from the Rollwagen and surrounded the Rollwagen and run with the Rollwagen and the luggage to the front of the ramps where the trucks are, and the trucks had, again, those stairs through which the people went before. On the stairs were strong guards, and from the Rollwagen we throw the luggage to them and they were throwing it in the truck, and when the truck was filled, the next truck was filled, until not one single luggage was remained.
Q. What about the people? What about the dead and the dying, the injured?
A. Meanwhile, the dead, the dying and the injured were lying here around, and it was forbidden to take any notice of them. I mean, anybody who would stop with them before the luggage was away would be punished appropriately.
Now, when all the luggage was away, we had on the ramp a collection of people which could be twenty percent of the transport, sometimes five percent, but sometimes thirty percent of dead or invalids dying. So we were now ordered -- a number of those dump trucks came and we were ordered to take them from that ramp, along this raod, to that dump trucks.
THE COURT: To the ....
MR GRIFFITHS: Dump trucks.
THE COURT: To the trucks.
THE WITNESS: To the lorries, and staircases were put in front of the lorries, but we were not allowed, as is normal, when you carry a dead body or a sick person, that four men holding or something like
that. It was usually one man who had to do it. This means the man had to grab the dead or dying by the hand and run with him on this road to this truck, and if the speed was not sufficient, there were a number of S.S. men with those clubs to give us a little bit more enthusiasm, as they called it, into this work.
When we came to these trucks, there were again men on top of the staircase, and dead or dying, or invalids who were neither dead nor dying but invalidated, paraplegics, broken legs and so on, were carried by us up the staircase, taken by two men on top of this staircase, and thrown into the lorries. So the lorries was taking a mixture of dead, dying and invalids. And this lorry, the people were not standing but they were usually lying because the number of dead was too big, and as they lied, so they lied. And when that lorry was approximately this way covered with bodies ---
Q. You are indicating a mound in the lorry?
A. Then the lorry went the same way as the previous way -- that is, direction Birkenau. The lorry went to Birkenau. After the last body, dead or alive, has been eliminated, we had to eliminate the last luggage and the cars, the dump trucks with the luggage, they didn't go to Birkenau where most of the people went, but they went to Auschwitz I, and here, next to the Deutsche Ausrüstungwerke.
Q. Next to the iron works.
A. Next to the Deutsche Ausrüstungwerke there was a yard, and this yard was called Kanada, and this yard had here a railway line, because the Deutsche
Ausrüstungwerke, Krupp and Siemens used workers to get out their products. So this railway line went in in front of this KanadaKommando. Here is the Kommando. So all the cars came with the property to Kanada, and there the trucks were lifted and the property was shifted down.
Q. I am going to stop you there, if I may.
MR GRIFFITHS: Your Honour, I see that it is twenty to five. Is this a convenient time?
THE COURT: Members of the jury, would you please retire now for the evening? We will start again at ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Please keep an open mind. Don't permit anyone to discuss this case with you, nor should you discuss it with anyone else.
Have a good evening. Thank you.
--- The jury retires. 4:50 p.m.
---The witness stands down.
--- Whereupon the hearing is adjourned to January 22, 1985.
JANUARY 22, 1985 [Tuesday]
--- Upon the hearing resuming.
MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, I'd like to speak to you in the absence of the jury.
THE COURT: Certainly.
MR CHRISTIE: Thank you, Your Honour. The defence has had, since the 8th of January, a witness by the name of Udo Wallendy [Walendy] a publisher from West Germany, waiting in Toronto. He has to leave on the 28th of January, and last night my friend gave me a piece of paper advising me he proposes calling three new witnesses.
Every witness that I am aware of, including the present one, has been added since the preliminary hearing. The obvious effect is that the Crown's case is made considerably longer than anticipated, and certainly far more unpredictable than was estimated from the preliminary hearing. This includes in respect to Dr Hilberg, the fact that Dr Fried, who had previously testified on the tribunal proceedings, had amalgated into his evidence Dr Fried's evidence as an expert; so that complicates matters further.
Dr Vrba is a totally new and unknown witness to us. We have a summary of his background, but we are told three new witnesses are to be called. They keep changing from time to time, which throws us into a state of somewhat confusion.
However, I suggest that this has resulted in a very, very great problem for the defence in
that we have witnesses waiting here from West Germany and other places that we had anticipated by the end of the month could be under way.
I'd like to suggest two possibilities, if I may, to enable us to provide our defence in addition to the Crown to complete its case: One possibility, which might be somewhat unusual, would be the position of a defence witness in the middle of the Crown's case -- that would be quite undesirable, probably objectionable to the Crown; the other possibility which I suggest might be more acceptable to the Crown, and which I might suggest is that a video tape deposition be taken, under oath, with the opportunity to my friend to cross-examine at will, and as far as he likes, the witness in question. That could be done in the evening at my friend's convenience. I can provide the equipment and the personnel to do the video tape deposition; then the witness can be cross-examined by my friend and he can go on his way, at which time the defence, at such time as the defence is called, we can then introduce that, having given my friend the opportunity to cross-examine. I think that would be preferrable to not having a witness.
The witness is Udo Wallendy [Walendy], who is
mentioned in the book, "Did Six Million Really Die", as the author of another book. The book is in evidence. I filed it in my cross-examination earlier. So it is a relevant witness. He is a publisher who has published extensively in the field and done research in the National Archives, I think, both in the United States and in West Germany. So in regard to him I would be seeking to qualify him as an expert in the field in which he has researched, and also to give firsthand evidence on the subject matter which is referred to in the book, "Did Six Million Really Die?". So he becomes both an expert witness and a witness on matters of fact referred to in the book. If it were not that he was, to that extent, relevant, I wouldn't be interposing this problem, because I certainly don't wish to create unnecessary delays, but I cannot see how, with the situation being as it is -- he has waited twenty days or will be here twenty days and still we are told three new witnesses and new witnesses every day -- it throws the defence into a position where we are unable to keep these people waiting any longer.
I wonder, then, if Your Honour could direct, in your discretion, that that second suggestion, or if more convenient the first, be adopted to enable our
side of the case to be presented. I think that the variations on the matter as presented from the preliminary to the present stage are approaching that level of alteration of the case where I will be raising the suggestion that an oblique motive exists to the constant re-arrangement of the evidence of the Crown, the inclusion of new witnesses, and the disappearance of old witnesses whose evidence is consistent with the theory of the defence, namely, the witness, Sabina Citron, the complainant in the whole matter in the first place. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. Mr Griffiths?
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour. I assure my friend there is no oblique motive in not calling Mrs Citron or in the fact that there are new witnesses that are being added to the Crown's case. I explained to my friend what Mrs Citron -- that there was an illness in the family, and that's why I was not calling her, and that remains my position, Your Honour. She is available if my friend wishes to call her. I have not been adding new witnesses every day, as my friend has indicated, although I did give him three new witness statements yesterday of people that I interviewed and met for the first time on Sunday.
I don't need to tell Your Honour, indeed I don't need to tell Mr Christie that this case has received wide publicity, not just within our community in Toronto, but across the country and by telephone, Your Honour, and I know the switchboards from a number of other organization hasn't stopped ringing since the 7th of January. These are witnesses that were not known to me before, have become known to me, the nature of their evidence is such that it is germain to issues that my friend is raising, and I felt it appropriate that the jury hear that evidence. And accordingly, I provided my friend with the witness statement from those witnesses.
Dr Vrba, I advised my friend some weeks ago that Dr Vrba will be testifying. I provided him with a copy of the report that Dr Vrba wrote in 1944 and advised him of the book that Dr Vrba had written of his experiences in Auschwitz and advised him that he had difficulty in obtaining that, and I wonder what assistance it was. So he had full disclosure of what Dr Vrba's evidence will be.
I regret, Your Honour, that the matter is taking longer than was initially anticipated. I recollected quite clearly that at a number of stages, both
in the courtroom and outside the courtroom, that I indicated that I had Dr Hilberg here, set aside two days for his evidence. I had never been advised two days would not be sufficient for that evidence. I had arranged for Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, and that I had Dr Vrba arranged for Thursday and Friday of last week.
I don't criticize Mr Christie's right to fully cross-examine, and that is certainly a right that he has exercised during the course of this trial, but I don't take full responsibility for the length of the trial, Your Honour. It's an adversarial process, and matters are being gone into in depth.
I know of no precedent, Your Honour, for either of the procedures that my friend suggests. They are as fresh to my ears as they are to Your Honour this morning. I have always felt, Your Honour -- and again I am not prepared with law or precedent on this -- that it was vital for a jury to be able to assess the credibility of somebody in person in the courtroom milieu, and not somebody on television. Obviously, as my friend says, any deposition would have to be in the presence of Your Honour as well and the court reporter here. The video
tape itself would not be sufficient. There may well be rulings during the course of his testimony and matters which Your Honour would have to appear on.
As to any suggestion that the Crown splits its case, again, I know of no precedent for that, and I will be opposed to both suggestions.
THE COURT: Thank you. Mr Christie.
MR CHRISTIE: First of all, Your Honour, my friend says that he told me about Dr Vrba. That is correct. But it seems to me I am hearing, every day, about new witnesses, alterations for old witnesses. The preparation for a case should not be undertaken during the course of a trial. I am sure that it is a recognized pre-requisite. If I have been surprising my friend, he should concede that as people go along, he has people who phone him on the weekend or any other time.
I suggest that we are entitled through the preliminary to know something about the case, and I can count now five witnesses, two experts, who are altered, and the total situation of the case is changing from day to day, it seems to me.
In the case of these circumstances it seems as if the Crown modifies its position on the basis
of the cross-examination, because from what I can see, of the witness statements provided, points brought out in cross-examination now are covered by new surprise witnesses. I think it approaches the stage where I could very readily ask for an adjournment.
The Crown provides me with witness statements, probably a quarter of a page long, to deal with fundamental matters in the case. It would be certainly within my right, I think, to ask for an adjournment in the face of this new type of evidence. I don't propose to do so. I think that would be far too much of an inconvenience for the jury and for the whole Court, but I am asking for some consideration of what I think is a practical problem, if it were necessary to conduct these depositions such as one takes commission evidence, before a commissioner, or in open Court, I am quite sure we could arrange that, although I am sure it would, indeed, be inconvenient to Your Honour and to the Court as a whole. I'd much rather avoid that if I could; but I really think that it ill becomes the Crown to say, well, we are finding out new things every day, and we want to add them as they come along; the defence can wait until we are through with whatever we happen to find. It seems to me with three
new witnesses, that's about the size of the matter; and in the face of that, I am asking for some consideration to enable us to put our case into evidence without the necessity of recalling people from West Germany and other places who are directly referred to in the book. There isn't some kind of abstract ---
THE COURT: What book?
MR CHRISTIE: This book.
THE COURT: Exhibit 1.
MR CHRISTIE: Exhibit 1. Thank you. They are quoted here, and they have come to verify what they've found. Now, they have waited since the 8th of January, and I certainly recognize that they couldn't testify then. They have to wait, but they have to go back on the 28th, twenty days later
I find it difficult to comprehend how the Crown can take the position that they may extend their case when and if they choose as long as they find it relevant. If people now phone them with information today, I suppose I will hear some new statements tomorrow. That's the way it happened yesterday. I don't see how the defence can be put in a position of coping with that kind of re-arrangement in the case. Thank you.
THE COURT: Counsel for the accused in the absence of the jury, has moved the Court to provide for and to accommodate the evidence of the proposed defence witness, Mr Udo Walendy.
I am told that that witness is West German by way of national origin and is a resident of that country. He has, I infer, at the request of the defence, come to Canada to testify as a defence witness at this trial. He came here on the 8th of January.
This trial commenced in a formal way on Wednesday, the 9th of January. A jury was selected with no undue delay. The evidence really did not commence until well into the latter two days of the first week after the Christmas recess. That would make the evidence in this case having started really in the afternoon of the 10th of January and all of the 11th.
All of last week was consumed with the evidence of four or five Crown witnesses, most of whom were examined and cross-examined with despatch.
Dr Hilberg, a Crown witness, testified as an expert. As I recall it, generally speaking, his evidence in examination-in-chief consumed not quite a day -- the better part of a full morning and somewhat in the
afternoon. He [Hilberg] was then cross-examined by counsel for the accused for two and a half days.
Mr Christie has indicated in his motion that Mr Walendy has to return to Germany on the 28th of January. This motion is made on the 22nd of January. Defence counsel moves that the Crown's case be interrupted and that the defence witness be examined in-chief and cross-examined before the jury.
In the alternative, and preferrable to the defence, Mr Christie submits that in the evening a video tape recording be made of Mr Walendy's evidence and that there be examination-in-chief and cross-examination with the tape ultimately being displayed to the jury.
Crown counsel objects to both of those suggestions.
Mr Christie is further of the view that the Crown is virtually, as he says, on a day-by-day basis, altering its case and notifying the defence that it intends to call more witnesses than originally intended with the result that any comparison between the witnesses called at the preliminary hearing and what the Crown intends to call at this trial is somewhat incidental.
Counsel for the defence takes the view
that the constant juggling and adding of witnesses with no intention to call other witnesses on the part of the Crown is not only confusing to the defence, but has taken defence to the point where it is contemplating suggesting that the Crown has an oblique motive in doing this. In any event, while the defence is not making a motion for an adjournment, that thought is passing through Mr Christie's mind.
Crown counsel observes that no one asked the witness, Walendy, to come to this country on the Crown side on the 8th of January. Mr Griffiths points out that when he suggested that he had set aside two days for the total evidence of Dr Hilberg, no one on the defence side advised him that it will be another one or two days in addition to that before the whole matter of that witness' evidence could be finished.
I am of the view that I have no jurisdiction to, in effect, tell the Crown how to prosecute.
In the same way I have certainly no jurisdiction to in any way regulate how the defence will be put in. I have jurisdiction to ensure that the law is followed and our procedures are adhered to. That
jurisdiction I have attempted to exercise.
I know of no statute or case law that permits the taking of evidence of any witness by video tape in a criminal trial. It seems to me that the mode of trial having been taken by the defence to have a jury, the jury is entitled to see witnesses first-hand and, as Crown counsel says, not through television.
I think it would be a grave error on my part to permit the evidence of any witness, be it video-taped, in the absence of the jury, at night, and to be shown to the jury later. It would be an improper disruption of the Crown's case for me to make an order that the Crown's case be interrupted so that the evidence of the defence witness could be taken.
I am dismissing the motion now for the reasons I have given. Defence counsel has the right to bring that motion again. Whether he succeeds or fails will depend on what I hear then. It will also depend on how fast we proceed, how quickly and with what despatch this case proceeds both in the examination-in-chief and in cross-examination of the witnesses as they are called by the Crown.
I am not unmindful of or unsympathetic
with Mr Christie's position insofar as the witness is concerned. Scheduling of witnesses is a nightmare to both side.
There is no substance in Mr Christie's submission that the Crown is apparently improperly deciding to not call certain witnesses and to call others that have not been called at the preliminary hearing.
Preliminary hearings are conducted to see whether or not there is evidence sufficient to put the accused on trial. Their prime motive is not one of examination for discovery, although it has been said by others senior to me that that is one of the natural benefits that might flow to the defence from the holding of preliminary hearings.
The motion is dismissed on those terms.
THE COURT: Is there anything further?
MR CHRISTIE: No, Your Honour.
MR GRIFFITHS: No, Your Honour.
THE COURT: The jury, please.
--- The jury enters. 10:35 a.m.
THE COURT: Members of the jury, I am sorry to keep you waiting. A matter came up first thing this morning, and I dealt with it. We are now ready to proceed.
Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
RUDOLF VRBA, previously sworn
CONTINUED EXAMINATION-IN-CHIEF BY MR GRIFFITHS:
Q. As I recollect, Doctor, we have reached the point yesterday where you were describing what went on in the night shift of the Kanada command, and I believe you had testified that you reached the point where the dead, the dying and the invalids were loaded on trucks and taken away. What was your responsibility then?
A. Once all the people -- that means dead, dying, invalids, healthy -- were distributed, each into its place because the trucks took them, we collected the luggage and loaded them on the returning trucks. The trucks were making quite short journeys. Say a truck went away with a hundred people and came back within ten minutes and there were only about ten trucks, so that if you had, in the transport, say three thousand to four thousand people, average was three thousand, but it could be four thousand, it could be five thousand.
The deportation, the elimination of the
people from the ramp would then take two to three hours, and after that, as the trucks are coming back from Birkenau ---
Q. Were they coming back empty or full?
A. Empty. We were immediately loading the property of the people on the truck. May I use the slides, please?
A. We were standing here. Here is a ramp. The truck with the people moved in this direction.
Q. Towards Birkenau?
A. Which is Birkenau, and came back, each truck, again to the ramp where we loaded it with the luggage. And then the trucks with the luggage, the property of the deportees, came into this complex, which wax called Kanada, and was adjacent to the complex called, "DAW", which means Deutsche Ausrüstungwerke, and translated means German ammunition military ammunition factory. I think that for short we can call it DAW. And this means that after all the luggage has been put on trucks and deposited here in Kanada, in this particular quarter, our job was to clean out the wagons. The wagons had to be cleaned out in such a way that not the slightest trace should remain that they were used for transportation of human beings. That means the straw was taken out and put on the ramp, the cars be meticulously cleaned with brushes, with mops, with all sorts of cleaning equipment, finally disinfected with lysol, again wiped and swept out, and then a commission came to inspect if the wagons are in an almost perfect state, like new, from inside.
After the wagons had been given
clearance to clear the ramp and our job was to eliminate from the ramp any slightest trace of anything, not one piece of paper, blood, urine or excrement, not a trace of clothes or whatsoever was allowed to stay on the ramp, and when that process was finished, we were again rounded up, and if I can have the previous picture ....
Q. What exhibit number is that that you just put on -- Exhibit 12?
A. Yes. The whole process went into reverse. This means we had to line up here and on the road in front of the ramp in fives, the group hundred, two hundred, depending how many you got. A detachment of S.S. came and marched us off, and the moment when this detachment of S.S. had marched us off, had us surrounded, that S.S. went home.
Q. The larger circle.
A. Yes. And we were marched, then, either, depends on the hour, either back into the camp, which means that we were marched back into the sleeping quarters here ---
Q. In Auschwitz I?
A. --- In Auschwitz I, which were surrounded by barbed wire and lights and garbage all through the night, or if there was much work, we waited either for the next transport, because there were such days that five or six transports came within twenty-four hours.
On the other hand, there was sometimes so much work to be done in this, specialized work to be done in this specialized Kanada complex, that you were marched into the Kanada complex and kept there working until we were allowed for going to the camp.
Q. Do you know what a Red Cross van looks like?
A. That's right.
Q. Can you describe it for us?
A. Well, it was Red Cross vans which was a green military van with a large red cross, and when the people were lined up, this red cross van went in front of them. If I show again this picture, the people who were left on the ramp and were lined up here waiting for the transport in this direction ---
Q. Towards Birkenau.
A. Yes. The Red Cross van came from Kanada via a small hole which is not shown on this map, but here was a road, a connection, crossed the railway line here and via a small road, went here to this direction. The Red Cross van originated here in Kanada compound, and contained Zyklon gas, the canisters.
Q. Did you ever see inside that Red Cross vans?
A. Yes. I have been several times inside the Red Cross van; because one of my jobs when I was here in the Kanada complex was to load the Red Cross van with Zyklon gas. And this usually happened before the arrival of the transport. This means when we were not in the camp, when the alarm came that the transport is coming, say this was alarm for twenty minutes in vans, then first thing when we got here in the Kanada complex which I have described how it looked, came the Red Cross van and there was a special small house which stored the Zyklon, and we were told ---
THE COURT: You cannot say what you
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: What did you do?
A. We were ordered to -- I'm sorry for using the word "told". We were ordered to ---
MR CHRISTIE: That is hearsay as well.
THE COURT: Rephrase it, please.
MR GRIFFITHS: You received some orders.
Q. As a result of the orders what did you do?
A. A queue was formed from this little house to the Red Cross van, and that would stand in the queue. In the little house inside there was Zyklon conserves -- they looked like conserves.
Q. Conserves, jam?
A. Well, they were the size of a gallon jam conserves. When I hold it like that, then it was a little bit over my two hands.
Q. You are indicating holding it from underneath.
A. Yes. So it depends where I stood, either where I was ordered or where they were stored, or the Red Cross van, or sometime in the middle, depending on the situation; and we were loading that Red Cross van with the Zyklon.
Q. Was it always the same amount, or did the amount differ?
A. It differed, depending on how many people they expected to come, I understand.
Q. That's the night shift.
A. That's the night shift.
Q. What about the day shift?
A. The day shift, the day shift worked in this compound.
Q. That is the Kanada compound.
A. That is the Kanada compound which was a square of approximately roughly hundred meters on each side. So this would be ten thousand square meters or hundred thousand square feet, roughly. And I would now, if you throw a light on what this looked like here inside, in the first line I would like to take notice that this compound was outside the main camp where we slept in the night, but inside the great of chain of guards. Therefore, when we were working here by day, there were no special guards here inside except the S.S. who worked, who commanded us to work, but not the guards; but this compound was often working for twenty-four hours a day, and there was also a night shift. And because in the night these guards are not standing, there was an arrangement for guarding us in the night within this complex. So this complex, then, looked finally like this.
Q. And you've got a clean sheet of transparencies, then, and you are going to draw us a picture of the compound now.
A. This was a compound of about a hundred yards with a gate here, barbed wire around. In those corners were guard towers, equipped with guards and machine guns, and here all along was light in the night. There were the following buildings inside. Here was a large building made of brick with a patio and a terrace, a veranda, very long barrack, type of Birkenau barracks,
was here. Here was a lavatory for the prisons, and other barrack was here, and here were again two barracks. So on the whole we had there four barracks, each barrack of the size of a large horse stable, and the house which I would say would represent a house with a square footage of rough estimate twenty thousand square feet which was a special store, twenty thousand square feet inside space.
Now, the trucks from the ramp would come with the property here into this, with the luggages, into this yard, and the property would be unloaded by the man in the truck pressing a button, and the truck lifting so that the whole luggage would slide down. However, if it didn't slide down, two prisoners or three prisoners had to climb up on the truck and help the luggage to get down so that the truck would return to the ramp for the next load. And meanwhile, in the centre of this yard, a great heap of luggage has been formed and prisoners were immediately used to store those luggages along the walls of this barrack.
Now, the walls of this barrack, the barrack was approximately the height of this wall.
Q. In the courtroom here?
A. Yes. About thirty meters long. This means, I would say, twice as long as this courtroom, by judgment, and the luggage from one or two transport vehicles represented a considerable mass of matter. It had to be done pretty fast because the trucks were going up and down from the ramp, and they were, of course, keen to clean the ramp very fast and to get the trucks for other jobs. So this was phase number one, the position of the luggage next to this barrack.
Q. What happened then?
A. Then we were working there at various times -- two hundred, three hundred, four hundred or five hundred people. Inside this barrack the situation was the following ---
Q. Excuse me just a minute, Doctor.
MR GRIFFITHS: The drawing, Your Honour, of inside the Kanada compound in Auschwitz, could that be the next exhibit?
THE COURT: Yes.
--- EXHIBIT NO. 13: Transparency of Kanada compound.
THE WITNESS: This barrack had two gates in the front and in the back like a horse stable with light coming from the top, no windows. Along, inside the barracks, blankets were spread out -- say nine, ten blankets. The blankets were confiscated immediately from those arrivals. They all had blankets, and there were a great store of blankets. And around each blanket were situated around ten prisoners. This was the first stage of our work there, which was also by night.
Now, six or ten or eight prisoners, depending on the amount of luggage, were doing nothing but running from the outside from here where the luggage was stored in great heaps and bringing two luggages in each hand. I mean, if you brought only one or something like that, it would be -- his enthusiasm for work would be increased by the S.S. men who stand at this door with a club, with a truncheon. So if sufficient speed, or carried
a considerable amount, physical convincing has taken place. The luggages were dropped here and these people who were around were already highly specialized. There was one man whose job was to open the luggage as fast as possible, and the rule was that it doesn't matter whether the luggage is or is not preserved healthy because the luggage was marked with names. So rough instruments were used, sometimes the luggage was cut up, and as fast as possible the content of the luggage was dumped on these blankets, and the people around these blankets started to be frantically active in sorting out the contents of the luggage. Men's clothes were on one side, women's clothes went on the other side, and children's clothes on the other side of the blanket. Things like shoe cream, shoe paste, combs, on the other side of the blanket, and on one side of the blanket went everything like documents, photo albums, diaries or books, material consisting of paper. In the middle there was a small luggage into which went valuables -- money, gold, etcetera -- wrist watches.
A. Jewellery which was found in those luggages. Now, this was here inside in the middle of each blanket, the small luggage. The papers were collected by a special collector again who went around with a big luggage and collected the documents, and those documents were taken here behind this barrack and between this barrack in the DAW, and a fire was made and those documents were burned there without inspection. Indeed, it was strictly forbidden to inspect those documents, and as I will explain later, before we left we were extremely thoroughly searched for money which was abundant there and for documents.
In other words, somebody who stole a sardine could get away with twenty-five lashes, but if somebody stole a bank note, a diamond or a document didn't get away alive.
Now, can I have this picture? Now, when it was all sorted out, again other groups came and started to load into blankets certain goods, say male clothes, female clothes, pans and pots ....
Q. Pots and pans ....
A. Pots and pans, yes. All sorts of things which were there, and I will go back through this picture.
Q. Exhibit 12.
A. Right. And now we would carry, the prisoners would carry from this barrack, where the sorting was going on, this was called the sorting barrack, loaded with blankets in which the goods were, sorted goods were stuffed, were running under the eyes of Scharfuhrer Wyglev. So he was sitting here and started observing the situation. As the prisoners were running with the property, with the property in blankets and depositing all better clothes here in this barrack, all laundry in this barrack, other items in this barrack. In that three barracks were working women. These women were brought from Birkenau. They were stationed in Birkenau, and every morning brought into the Kanada command. Women do not work on the ramp, and in Kanada they worked in the three barracks where they sorted the goods according to quality. This means they sorted shirts, first quality shirts, second quality shirts, and so-called lumben [Lumpen], which means rags. And they are bundled, and in this barrack enormous amounts of those shirts of first quality, of
second quality and of third quality were accumulated. Similarly, undergarments of first quality, second quality and third quality were accumulating so that it looked like in an enormous warehouse inside. The number of women who worked on the sorting amounted for anything from two hundred to three hundred to four hundred, depending on the business that was going, and in regular intervals the train came. There was a train line as I explained in figure number one. There were train lines there, because this was group Siemens, and armaments, DAW, which produced material for war with the slave labour provided from Auschwitz I, and therefore they had to export those things straight to the railway, and so there was a railway line coming into the camp, and this railway line was prolonged, and so, occasionally, wagons would be put in front of the Kanada, and we would then load those wagons on particular days with the property sorted already out. This means the wagons would come here. Here would be the railway line, and they would bring in wagons, and there were days when it was in the order, shirts, first quality and second quality. So we had to run from this barrack with the proper load and load it on those trains, then came, say, shoes, first quality, second quality, third quality. The shoes were carefully bundled together so that they are not mixed up. Then there were overcoats, first quality etcetera, etcetera. Now, the third quality underwear and shirts was not sent as such, but it was called as a rag quality and this was sent to paper factory for making paper, and this I know because when loading it in the wagon, the designation of the wagon was written on it, Memel was written on it, which is a Baltic town. So this rags of
the third quality were transported for making paper in Memel, and the better things were distributed to various addresses in Bavaria, mainly, but also in other addresses, and it was written Winterhilfswerk, which means help for the winter, and they made various contributions among the population for either those who are poor or those on the front and running out of underwear and shirts, and they send it to those centres.
Q. Now, during this time that you were working in the Kanada command, the day shift or the night shift, up until January 15th you said you were living in Auschwitz I.
Q. Before January 15th did you ever go into Birkenau?
A. Yes. On one occasion.
Q. All right. Now, have we got a map there that would show?
MR GRIFFITHS: While Dr Vrba is getting it, the sketch showing the inside of the barracks as described by Dr Vrba, if that could be the next exhibit.
THE COURT: Exhibit 14.
--- EXHIBIT NO. 14: Transparency -- Sketch showing inside of barracks.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Now, this is a different map and perhaps you could orient us on this map where Birkenau is and where Auschwitz I is on the railway lines.
A. That was a previous map which I
showed, made by memory, and this is an official map made by experts.
Here, this is Auschwitz I.
Q. And you have marked that in red.
Q. Now, where is the road that you would travel from Auschwitz I ---
A. Here is Kanada. And the road of the tracks which we travelled from Auschwitz I was the following:
When we went to the ramp we were marched from Auschwitz I where we were overnight, over this pass to this pass without reaching the railway station, Auschwitz. This is a river here and we reach here the Vienna-Krakow line, railway line. And we cross it and enter the rail of Birkenau.
Q. And there is a road there that you are indicating that went to Birkenau. Were there any other roads that went to Birkenau?
A. None. This was the only road that went to Birkenau. Also, some of the S.S. who were stationed in this region have this time made footpath by walking over these fields, so that some sort of dirt footpath to the railway station existed because behind the railway station and behind Auschwitz there were pubs.
THE COURT: There were what?
THE WITNESS: Pubs.
THE COURT: That is where one drinks beer.
THE WITNESS: Yes. The S.S., in order not to go this way, they have stamped out
a road which was a shorter road to the railway station and to the town of Auschwitz.
Q. All right. Now, can you ---
A. The only road on which a car could go is this one.
Q. All right. Can you tell us where, before January 15th, you went in Birkenau?
A. On January 15th ---
Q. I'm sorry, I said before January 15th.
A. Yes. In December 1942 I was once ordered to enter a truck, one of those trucks, to go to an unknown place, and at that location I was driven to Birkenau and I was driven along this road, enter the Birkenau, came here. Here was a main gate of Birkenau, main entrance. There was the one and only entrance how it would get to Birkenau complex was either here; here was the one and only entrance.
Q. All right.
A. And the other entrance was here, which was the side entrance. I was taken through this -- sorry, it went there. It was here. This is the entrance, and I was taken with a truck first through this main entrance here, then the truck went in between camps "C" and "D", which I will show in bigger detail. Then it turned left, and here we are in this region, and there in the large hut there was, as I described, a horse stable; we were taken in by a number of open pits and the hut, not hut, horse stable, was filled with clothes from bottom to the very top, and our job of about fifty men was to clear a road through that enormous amount of clothing and then side roads, so
that the clothing could be slowly taken out or sorted on the place.
Q. Did you have an opportunity to look at the pits that you saw?
A. Yes. The pits were close to the barrack. It was December 1942, and the heat came out from the pits. The pits were not used. There was nobody. When I looked into the pits I saw bones which were fragments only which were burned, but a lot of unburned or slightly burned children's heads. At that time I didn't know what it means, why children's heads don't burn, but now I know that they contain such an amount of water that to burn completely a child skull is much more difficult than a grown-up's skull.
Q. How many were there, one or more than one?
A. As far as I remember I didn't walk by more than three. There might have been further from the barrack, but of course, I couldn't walk there. I had to keep by the barrack.
Q. Can you give us any estimate as to how large those pits would be?
A. The depths I would estimate for six meters.
Q. Six meters.
THE COURT: What's that in feet?
THE WITNESS: Six meters is about twenty feet, eighteen feet. Eighteen feet, twenty feet. So this means the depths would be again up to this panneling, the second panneling. I would estimate that it is about
six meters. And it was a rather quadrangle. It was quadrangular. I would say six meters on each side and six meters down. They were not in use, but the heat was still coming out and if you like to come closer because of the heat, it was December, it was very cold.
Q. Now, on January 15th did you move?
A. Yes. On January 15th ---
THE COURT: What year would this be, Doctor?
THE WITNESS: '43. It turned out under some suspicion that certain amount of money turned out in Auschwitz one camp found by the so-called political department, which was an internal police in the camp which had its own block which was block eleven, which was known as a torture block, or investigation block.
Now, they had found evidence from some prisoners that money which originated from Kanada ---
MR CHRISTIE: We are now embarking into the realm of hearsay and I object to it. I don't mind if he goes on, but ---
THE COURT: I agree with you, Mr Christie.
Q. MR GRIFFITHS: Perhaps without going into the reasons why, was your group moved?
A. One day we were moved. On 15th January, 1943, we were moved from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Q. All right. And we have got a drawing there, a little more detailed drawing of Birkenau that showed the various barrack?
A. Yes. My original drawing after I made it after my escape in 1944 is this. And when we
came to Birkenau, all this was under construction in '43, this region here.
Q. And you are indicating where there there is the Roman numeral II, "A" through "F".
A. Yes. It was under construction, and there were no prisoners whatsoever.
Q. Where were all the prisoners?
A. These two camps existed. Here are women and here are men. And we were brought in into this men's camp into Block 16, and what a men's camp look like and how this look like in more than my drawing is shown on this map.
Q. Now, there are parts of this map that are different from when you left on April 7?
A. Since April 7th, since I left, I am now one year forwards.
Q. I understand that. I just want to understand just what was there when you were there, and you can't testify as to what was there after you were there.
A. Now, these barracks were not there by the time I left.
Q. Indicate at the top.
A. Yes. And this railway which is here indicated as coming in through the main gate was not finished. There were only laid foundation from the railway, and I could see that the railroad is a building, but it was not finished on 7 April, 1944, otherwise I cannot see the meaning of this here, which is connected, evidently, from the building of this new railway of which I didn't mention before, because when you look at my original
painting which was made in 1944 at the time of my escape, behind this complex of Birkenau, here are the Krematoria II, III, IV and V, there was just a little small forest and no roads.
MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, I don't know how this witness can say that unless he admits that he was there.
MR GRIFFITHS: He was there.
MR CHRISTIE: He was outside Birkenau and behind ---
MR GRIFFITHS: Yes, Mr Christie. He escaped. You will hear about it more.
THE WITNESS: Yes, I escaped. I escaped.
THE COURT: Excuse me, gentlemen. The previous transparency that he put on will be Exhibit 15, the one he drew himself.
MR GRIFFITHS: Yes, Your Honour. A rough ground plan of Birkenau from 1944 from Dr Vrba.
---EXHIBIT NO. 15 Transparency -- rough ground plan of Birkenau in 1944 by Dr Vrba.
THE COURT: Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
Q. Dr Vrba, you were explaining the camp enclosure, Birkenau, when you were there.
Q. All right? Carry on. Now ....
A. This means this was Birkenau I. Here are women and here were men.
Q. We are looking at the left side of the drawing and on the bottom --
A. On this side of the drawing were women and here were men. And to make the geography clear, south on this map is in this direction, and this I know because on clear days from this place where I lived -- I lived here in this place, but when I go as far as this and could look through the wires, I could see mountains, and I knew that those are the Bezkydy. These were Slovak mountains.
Q. Slovak mountains. And these were ---
A. In the south.
Q. Now, I put to you another one, and this is three-dimensional, tilted; another one that we have seen before as a flat plan.
A. Yes. So this would be the flat plan similar to that one which I drew after my escape, and this means that Birkenau I was two -- this was "A" and this was "B". In "A" were women; in "B" were men. This complex was Birkenau II, and it was not built up at that time.
Q. When you first move in.
A. In January 1943. And this complex did not exist whatsoever in January 1943.
Q. Now, where were you living in January of 1943?
A. I was living in this building here. And this building was called Block No. 16.
Q. And where were you working after January '43?
A. After January '43 I was working
back in Kanada. This means by daytime or by nighttime I was transported to the ramp, and by daytime to the Kanada storehouse in Auschwitz I.
Q. All right.
A. I was marched there. In other words, I was only changing my barrack from Auschwitz I into a barrack in Birkenau. That was a change on January 15th. And here I stayed until January 8th.
Q. I'm sorry?
A. June 8th, 1943.
Q. All right. During that next six months ....
Q. ....can you tell us whether you saw any of the truckloads or lorries of people coming from the direction of the train ramp into Birkenau that you described for us yesterday?
Q. Can you tell us where they went?
A. Because when I finished my work, if I may call it that way, when this Kommando finish the work on the ramp, the Kommando went home. Now, when I was home and somebody else was on the ramp, when I was in the day Kommando, then I would see that those trucks with those who were not marched into the camp, the healthy men and the healthy women went, so to say, in front of my nose by this main entrance, by this road, into this region, which was surrounded by barbed wire, electrified barbed wire, and unloaded in this yard. So that it was my privilege and right of the prisoners that when they are not working, they can walk. This is the
Furthermore, here, this is Block 27, and next to the Block 27, here, it was a wooden structure.
Q. Is it shown on this plan?
A. It is not shown on this map because it was only made fro wood, and this was called Leichenkeller, which means mortuary. And this was a mortuary for prisoners who died by daytime in the prison compound, and in this mortuary there was a very close check on the numbers of the prisoners so that one knows who died, who is not dead. So considerable administration was being kept.
Q. Were you ever in that mortuary?
A. I was frequently in the mortuary, because Registrar in the mortuary was Fred Wetzler, with whom I escaped later who was from the same town I was, who I knew from home, and with whom I escaped from Auschwitz. This means if I may have this main picture, if I was not working, I used every occasion to go to the mortuary, because there was the company of Wetzler, who was my closest friend.
Secondly, we conspire from the very start with Wetzler the conspiracy of escape. Wetzler by that time lost three brothers in the Sonderkommando. And it gave me safety, because by staying in the mortuary, this Wetzler, it usually contained two hundred, three hundred, four hundred bodies. The S.S. didn't like the stench which accumulated there, so we had a peaceful teatime in that place, and if I may have the picture, also naturally from this place I could see perfectly what was happening on this road and what's happening here,
from the crematoria.
Q. You described barbed wire. Was there any kind of fence around those buildings that are crematoria that would prevent you from seeing what was happening there?
A. Not at the start. At the start I could see perfectly well from here, in January 1943, February 1943, perfectly well what is happening here. The distance is not more than fifty, sixty yards. I mean, the distance apart from the barbed wires would be like over this room, quite close. So that I could see perfectly well what was happening in this area.
MR GRIFFITHS: Your Honour, is this a convenient time for the morning recess?
THE COURT: Yes. Twenty minutes.
--- The jury retires. 11:27 a.m.
--- Short adjournment.
MR CHRISTIE: Your Honour, I just want to point out what I thought might have been a misunderstanding in my application this morning.
My friend said he hasn't heard an application such as I was making. I thought I had mentioned the word "commission", and I intended it to be such an application, and I wanted to point out that I thought
perhaps, although at the time I was speaking to a point of law that didn't seem to be of well-known repute, I think I am right in saying that 637 indicates that: "A party to a proceeding to which this Act applies may apply for an order appointing a commissioner to take the evidence of a witness who (a) is, by reason of ....", and then: " (ii) some other good and sufficient cause, not likely to be able to attend at the time the trial is held, or (b) is out of Canada.
I noted too that in the case of R. v. Bulleyment (1979) 46 C.C.C. (2nd), 429, the Court of Appeal of Ontario has held that such an application may be made during the trial. However, the application would only be granted -- or however, in deciding whether or not to grant the application, the trial judge is entitled to decide such factors as to whether the trial is disrupted by the taking of evidence and the possible prejudice to the opposite party resulting therefrom, as well as the consequences that the jury will not have the advantage of observing the demeanour of the witness.
In view of the fact that it didn't seem clear that my friend acceeded to the factor, the position, that there was such a right, I simply want to re-affirm that I was intending my application to be regarded as
one under s. 637 (a) (ii), and although I am not asking Your Honour to rule on this at this time, I would like Your Honour to consider my application in light of these remarks and in that section for consideration at a later point.
I will be renewing it with the same factual reasons as I gave before. And I might point out that I also indicated at the beginning of the case that I was going to make an application at the end of the Crown's evidence that the witness, Fried, who was called at the preliminary hearing and gave evidence which I would want for my defence, I would be seeking his examination under commission as well.
Now, he is in New York City, and I was prepared to make that application at the end of the Crown's case to convenience the Court, but I put the Crown on notice that I would be seeking that order.
So I am simply re-affirming what I said previously, identifying the section number and indicating that I would be, if possible, raising the issue with you again, perhaps tomorrow or at a later stage, respecting Dr Udo Walehdy [Walendy].
Thank you very much, Your Honour.
THE COURT: I think, Mr Christie, one of the reasons that I dismissed your application without prejudice -- in effect you are making it again-- was because at the present time, on what you've told me concerning Mr Walendy, the wording of s. 637 is incompatible with his physical presence in this country and being available, at least at this time, to testify.
In so far as the other matter is concerned regarding the witness in New York City, I understand you are not making an application now. You are merely advising that you may very well be making such an application at the appropriate time.
MR CHRISTIE: Yes. Because I have asked my friend to produce the witness, and so far he has declined; but I am simply indicating that if he does not produce the witness by the end of his case, that is what my application will be.
THE COURT: All right. Thank you. Is there anything further from either side.
MR GRIFFITHS: No, Your Honour. I just indicate that I will not be producing the witness by the end of the case and I will be confirming that. That will be the argument I expect my friend to make, but I
will not be producing that witness from New York City, and I was not aware that s. 637 was being used for Udo Walendy, and I am obliged to my friend for pointing that out.
THE COURT: Thank you, gentlemen.
Bring in the jury, please.
--- The jury returns. 12:05 p.m.
THE COURT: Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
Q. Dr Vrba, prior to the morning recess you were telling us that you had a clear view from the mortuary where your friend worked of the area of the Krematoria II and III, or what are marked on the plan.
Can you tell us what you saw when trucks would come to that area?
A. May I have the map again?
THE COURT: I think, before we go any further, what we are all looking at on the screen -- that's Exhibit 16, I believe, isn't it?
THE REGISTRAR: It hasn't been introduced, Your Honour.
MR GRIFFITHS: Perhaps, before we go further, that can be introduced. It's been marked by Dr Vrba indicating that Block 27, where his friend was living
p. 1327 and where the mortuary is, and it is a plan said to be of Birkenau.
THE COURT: Please mark it now, otherwise things could become somewhat confused.
MR GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Your Honour.
---EXHIBIT NO. 16: Transparency of
Birkenau complex, BI, BII, BIII.
VRBA's TESTIMONY: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ]
This is part 1 of the Testimony of Dr
Rudolf Vrba: pages 1244-1644 of the transcript of the 1985 Ernst
Zündel trial in Toronto, hereinafter reproduced verbatim
and containing numerous instances of defective grammar, syntax,
and spelling. Suggested editorial corrections , written with bold
letters, are put in brackets.
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