Testimony of Johann Folger
Summarized by Amaris Diaz, Crystal Allen, and Elijah Gay
Johann Folger a German laborer was
In 1940 when he was
On the dynamite detail, Folger was in charge of 18 [difficult to read in the copy, perhaps 10] other prisoners who made a test tunnel where ten bombs and two air mines were brought to explosion to find out the underground tunnels’ vulnerability (500).
SS Technical Sergeant Knockl was
in charge of the Russian prisoner-of-war camp (483). Under him was Block Leader
Kuetreiber and Block Leader Tandler, who was also
interpreter (485). He also knew SS Sergeant Becker (485). The Russian camp was
made up of Blocks 13, 14, 15, 16, 24,23, 22 and 21 from October 1941 for “about
a year” (485). Folger does not recall Tandler’s name
Folger says that Tandler was known as “The Father of the Russians” among the prisoners, not the SS. He cannot say if this name was ironical or not (486).
Chmielewski was the protective-custody camp leader at Gusen until “about the middle of 1942” (486). Asked if Chmielewski returned at the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945 Folger said, “Yes, I saw him there as a civilian, but he wasn’t protective custody camp leader any more” (486). Folger said Chmielewski was probably the worst and most terrible camp leader at Gusen. Chmielewski would visit the camps at night drunk and beat up the prisoners accompanied by block leaders and labor service leaders. Eventually SS Major Obermeyer “stopped these nightly visits” (487) by Chmielewski and the labor service leaders (487). The “main” (487) men surrounding Chmielewski were Jentzsch, Gross, Kluge, Kirchner, Brust, Streitweisser (487). Jentzsch was Chmielewski’s right hand man, according to Folger (496). He says it is possible that one of the accused at this trial might have been in Chmielewski’s group as well, but he doesn’t remember (487). The men he mentions also came into the camp in the evening, and he saw them there. He did not see Grill among them and did not hear Grill’s name discussed by prisoners the day after a night’s beating (488).
Seidler was quieter, but “perhaps more of a murderer” (487).
Folger testifies that around
January or February in 1943, his barracks was gassed. He recalls hearing
one gun shot being fired in the middle of the night. The next morning he met
Capo Losen who was there with a truck of ten
prisoners who were to take the corpses to the crematory. Folger
entered the barracks and saw dead bodies lying in beds and in front of the
door. [The following sentences are difficult to read in the copy]. Folger sta
Folger says bathing-to-death of
invalids occurred from October1941 to March 1942 (492) under Chmielewski (493).
He recalls, “As far as I can remember it was said that only three percent
invalids were allowed in camp” (493). Folger assumed
the men who were selec
He recalled two incidents. Of the first, he says: “It must
have been the end of 1941. There I saw the Block Eldest Schroegler took approximately
thirty or forty prisoners to the prisoners’ bath house, and then he returned
alone, and I asked him what was being done there, and he told me that these men
would receive a bath there (493).” “They had only their pants and an overcoat”
[sic] (494). SS Technical Sergeant Hurst and Jentsch entered, and the
Living and Working Conditions for Russian POWs
Folger recalls that the 2,000 Russians who arrived in October 1941 all died (except those in infirmaries) by March 1942. Folgers says these men died from “Bad food; during the day they had to work in the stone quarries without socks, with wooden shoes; it was raining and snowing. They had very little clothes only a pair of pants, a thin jacket; and at noontime they didn’t get much to eat; they had to eat while standing up in the stone quarry; very long roll call and that is the reason why the people perished” (499).
Folger also sta
Grill and the Mail
Folger only remembers Grill as a
“nervous and vain man” (488) and explains the prisoners’ hatred towards him as
a result of Grill’s having taken more out of the packages “than he was supposed
to” (488). Prisoners called him the “Mail Robber” (489). He was disliked among
the SS for his vanity. “I remember once an SS man told me that he, the SS man,
intended to go bowling, and then he went to Grill’s room and asked him to go
along. He called Grill by his first name, and Mr. Grill told this SS man that
for him he was not Grill, but SS Master Sergeant Grill” (488). As to his
treatment of prisoners, Folger recalls that once
after all the mail was distribu
Folger went to the mailroom every
evening with fifty to one hundred prisoners (489) when the mail was distribu
Grill was said to have an “easy hand” (495) when beating prisoners. Folger does not remember him remaining in the camps in the evenings or living or sleeping there or “hanging around” (495). Grill lived in St. Georgen (496).
Johann Folger testified that there were two hangings, one in 1942 and the other in 1944. In one case, the Russian prisoner was said to have tried to escape and that he must be hanged according to the orders of Reichsführer SS Himmler, but he told another prisoner that he was innocent (500).