Testimony of Joseph Berdzinski given on 17 June 1947

                                                            Summarized by Eric Weigand

 

Biographical Information

 

Joseph Berdzinski, a thirty four year old civil servant and Polish national from Linz, Austria (114-115), was a prisoner in Gusen I from 1940 until 1945 (115). For his first days in the camp, Berdzinski was assigned to carry stones until he was reassigned “to bring....to take the rocks out” (115). After that, he became a stone cutter and, finally, he was assigned to the tunnels (115).

 

Grill and the Mail

 

Wilhelm Grill was in charge of the mail room and, Berdzinski testified, stole food stuffs out of the packages that were sent to the Polish prisoners (115-116). Berdzinski gives the example of three-quarters of a sausage removed from a package in which only one-quarter of the original contents were left for the prisoners (116). Stolen food was taken to the Jourhaus, the entrance to Gusen I. Berdzinski knew this because he had to carry a bag of food there once himself (116). He testifies that the food was taken to the Jourhaus by “Grill, an SS Sergeant, and other helpers” (117). Berdzinski once even saw the packages being opened by Grill, an SS Sergeant, and inmates Cunajek and Krause who worked in the mail room behind the camp (117) in the SS area (122) where the packages were stacked when they came in (117) if there were too many of them. Later on the packages were taken to the “Central” or “main post office” (122). Berdzinski did not believe that packages were opened simply to censor the contents, but to pilfer foodstuff (122). Berdzinki received three to four parcels a week as well as holidays (122). When prisoners went to receive mail and complained of things missing, they were beaten by Grill, usually with a stick or whip (116). First Sergeant Fiessel was in charge of the distribution of what was left of the packages and, according to Berdzinski, he was “just in his distribution.”  Tech Sergeant Reichert was also in charge of the distribution of the packages (121). Both men saw that packages got to the right prisoner (124, 125), but by the time the packages got to these two men they had already been opened and fat, sausages, and cakes had been removed (116, 121). But these men only made sure that the correct person received their package (125).

 

The Spaniards

                                                                                                                                                En Español

 

 Willi Jungjohann, or Jung as he was referred to by Berdzinski, started out in Gusen I as a guard and later became a block leader and a detail leader in Oberbruch Kastenhof in 1943 when Berdzinski worked there (117). Jung, according to Berdzinski, “walked around all day long and chased the people to work” and beat people for complaining about being poorly treated by capos (118). Jung was known for beating prisoners ruthlessly with a stick, even on the head and injuring them. In the fall of 1943, Jung even beat a Spaniard to death with his stick. According to Berdzinski, the Spaniards worked on a “narrow gauge railroad which they had to push” (118). When the cart they were pushing derailed, the Spaniards were exhausted. Jung ran among them and started to beat them with a stick. One of the weaker Spaniards was beaten so badly that he had to be carried away and, Berdzinski was told later by a friend of the man, died (118-119). Berdzinski was beaten once as well by Jung when he was caught boiling some potatoes in the stone cutters hall. Jung then took the potatoes to the capos (119).

 

Chmielewski and Drunken Beatings

 

Berdzinski also mentions times when the detail leaders would go with the camp leader and the role call leader and get drunk. After much drinking, they would come back to the camp and sick dogs on the prisoners and even beat prisoners until their “eyes fell out” (119-120) with whips, breaking windows and making a lot of noise (126). When this took place, Berdzinski states that Jung was not present for this, but that he believes that Grill was there, though it was Schmielewski [sic] who knocked the eyes out of a prisoner with his whip (126).