Testimony of Wil
At the time of the trial, Wil
In 1933, Grill was a politically uninteres
Army Service and the Waffen SS
Grill joined the Waffen SS voluntarily because he had lost
his job in 1934 (318). He was with the
Waffen SS from April 1935 until April 1938 (318). On page 351, the dates he
gives for his service in the SS are April 1935 until March 1938. He says, “I
was in the NSDAP from
Contact with Concentration Camps
The first concentration
When asked by the prosecution to assess the conditions in
Gusen I, he says that in 1942 conditions were very bad until the ban on the
receipt of parcels was lif
Service in the Post Office
Grill worked in the post office at Gusen I from
Head of Criminal Matters and Welfare
After April 1942 (224) he did not really participate in the
business of the camp (325), but since the office of the head of the local party
ward Ziereis was in the same SS barracks (324) outside the protective custody camp
(325) (327) as the SS mail room, Grill continued to go to this barracks every
day after Ziereis put him in charge of all criminal matters for the Nazi Party.
After the 14th or 15th of August 1944, when the
bombardments and the “retreat refugees came into our area” (224), Ziereis put
him in charge of the Refugee Welfare Department of the National Socialist
Welfare Organization as his main duty. Ziereis wan
As head of the NS Welfare organization, Grill says that he had to take care of hundreds of refugees after 1943. Several nights a week, this work kept him from returning to his home in the SS Settlement in St. Georgen an der Gusen. The work that kept him at Gusen was “Work for the Welfare Organization, for the party, and caring for the refugees” (342).
From January to October of 1941, he lived in Mauthausen
(324) in the Restaurant Arras (341), and from January of 1942 until
While Grill was in charge of the post office at Gusen I, no other SS men
came into the post office and took articles from packages (336) (363). If he had seen it, he would have repor
Restrictions on Prisoner Mail
Not all prisoners
could receive mail or parcels. This determination was made by the Reich
Security Main Office in
Until October 1942,
prisoners could only receive parcels at
Grill and the Reception and Distribution of Mail
Before the change in
the restrictions on packages in October 1942 (226) the reception and
distribution of mail began at when a truck from Mauthausen took Grill, an
SS guard, and two prisoners to the train station at St. Georgen. The mail
arrived on a passenger train and, once unloaded, was taken to the post office
in St. Georgen to be sor
After the restrictions on packages changed and picking up parcels and censoring parcels became part of his responsibility (226). Grill’s duty day would begin at and end at (342). The first day under the new regulations, 300 packages arrived in the first shipment. The number increased to from 700 to 800 a day by the middle of 1943 (326) although the average weight remained 4 or 5 kilos (375).
By 1943, the Reichsbahn was unable to take care of the volume of packages and Gusen I was given its own mail car which was taken every morning including Sundays from the station at St. Georgen directly to Gusen by way of the special tracks in front of the camp (326). “From the moment the mail car was opened until the time the last parcel was disposd of, always a civilan employee of the German Post Office, of the Austrian post office at St. Georgen was present” (328).
The parcels were
taken to the SS mail room outside the camp and checked with the parcel post
receipts (328). Here the parcels were sor
The parcels were
unloaded and “all parcel post cards went through the filing system of the camp
office” (328). The camp post office had cards on all inmates who were permit
At this time, the
package was censored. The man in charge of censoring it was the only person to
handle it (333). Anything not permit
Once censored, the package “went into a special drawer” (333).
In Grill’s presence, (336) after the evening roll call, parcels and regular mail were handed out to prisoners (334) by the SS man on duty in protective custody camp (333). The prisoners lined up in front of the post office for parcels. A prisoner in front of one of the post-office doors would call out the name of addressee (335). “On the long parcel table, another prisoner was sitting who got from the prisoner his signature for the receipt of the package; next to this prisoner the employee of the post office who checked the prisoner as to the number and name in accordance with the address on the package; next to the employee stood the SS man on duty in the protective custody camp was standing with the package and he showed him this parcel and in accordance with his orders he took out the food” (335-336). Grills says food was always removed done by a protective-custody-camp SS (336) never one of the postal censors (336) (360).
Food was taken out
The food taken out
was placed on a table directly behind the SS who had removed the food (336). At
this time, a portion of bologna or bread or sausage would be cut off and placed
on the table behind the SS and the rest put back into the parcel given to the
prisoner (359). On page 360, Grill says that it was the SS man designa
Grill says that block leaders never came into the mail room while he was working there. Nor did he go into the camp except once or twice. However, after his duties took him away from the mailroom, corporals were left in charge of censoring, and at this time block leaders with higher ranks might have taken “some liberty” (337).
including Red Cross packages which occasionally arrived for French or Spanish
prisoners was censored in Mauthausen (334), and so they would arrive at already opened (334). This mail was also handed out after evening
roll call (334). Of all the packages
received, 80% of them were from
Until 1943, Grill censored mail himself, but he increasingly took on a supervisory role (329). In the mail room, Grill personally supervised four to five SS men who censored the mail and packages and a detail of five or six prisoners (328) who filed the prisoners’ incoming and outgoing mail according to their filing system, affixed stamps on outgoing mail, and loaded and unloaded parcels (329). Two prisoners in the office kept it clean (333). Grill and the man from the Mauthausen post office trained additional censors for two or three months, but eventually Grill only helped with the censoring if there was a great need for him to do so which he says happened two or three times a month. Three SS men usually worked at this job, relieving each other (333).
After October 1943, Grill ordered that only short letter
could be written because of the ove
Reports on other camps, and anything against the Reich were
cut out of a letter (330). Sketches and
drawings were burned (330), and pictures were returned to sender (329). Usually, Grill would let the prisoner see the
picture and then return it to the sender (329).
Money that was sent, was given to the office that took care of personal
effects of prisoners, and the addressee was accredi
After the 14th or 15th of August, 1944 after Grill was transferred to work in the Welfare and NSDAP office, he never returned to the mailroom, which was now under SS First Lieutenant Riemer (365). As the bombardments increased, disrupting mail service and the retreat from the eastern front proceeded, the volume of mail decreased (366).
As an example Grill offers the instance when Krause took an uncensored letter to a prisoner. Grill punished him to prevent further occurrences (338). Grill says that Krause decided to let Grill punish him because a report would have meant more severe punishment (338). On questioning by the president of the court, Grill said that in punishing Krause himself rather than reporting him, he did not have the discretion to do so according to the SS. This incident was a matter of the post office, Grill explained, and did not concern the camp commander (375-376).
Grill also says, “I myself can remember two cases of burglary in the post office, where several packages had been stolen, and furthermore during the receipt of packages at the time when all the parcels were handed out prisoners took the parcels addressed to other prisoners by faking the number of the other prisoner on their arm as well as on their chest and put the number on their own shirt, and in this manner they were able to receive the parcel of the other prisoner who was on night duty. For the employees of the post office and the SS men in charge of handing out the parcels, of course it was impossible to remember the name of the face that was supposed to have received the package among the many hundreds of prisoners” (340). Those who received parcels were often robbed by other prisoners not ten or fifteen meters from the post office. Grill said these thieves were punished. There were criminals among the Germans as well as the Poles who needed to be punished to deter crime (340).
A Soldier Following Mail Orders
Grill estimates that aside from the prisoners working for him in the post office, he came into contact with as many as a thousand prisoners a day, depending on the number of packages, while he worked at the Gusen camp post office (340). The name Grill became synonymous with the post office and therefore with the censoring of mail and the removal of objects from packages (340). In regards to his conduct in the mailroom, Grill says that he was following strict orders correctly. “I was a soldier and carried out my duties in accordance with my instructions as a soldier (341).
“We were bound by orders which came down from the Reichsführer SS or from the camp commandant. We simply had to carry out such orders without making many questions (350) about such orders. Himmler himself was quite often in the camp and saw the conditions there and gave his orders accordingly. Had we not carried out these orders we would have been subject to the most severe punishment by the SS Corps without any questions of consideration whatsoever” (351).
Chmielewski and Drunken Beatings
In regards to the accusations that he and Chmielewski went through the camp at night and pulled prisoners out of their beds and beat them, Grill says that he was never at Gusen between 1 and but went home when his duties were over at . While on duty as officer of the day, Grill had nothing to do with the protective custody camp but only with the SS barracks and the camp headquarters’ staff. The block leader on duty had responsibility for the protective custody camp from one evening until the next. He stayed in the Jourhaus until the proper signal was given, and then toured the camp to make sure the lights and fires had been put out (343).
Grill claims he had no relationship with Chmielewski because the mail room had no connection to the custody camp. Chmielewski asked Grill to report incidents in the mail room to him, and when Grill did not, the camp commandant developed a disliking for him and had him punished for it on a few occasions (344). Grill says he had little contact with other members of the headquarters staff. As evidence that Chmielewski disliked him, he offers the example of a time when the camp commandant broke all the windows in the post office and shot out the lights with his pistol (345). Grill heard that once after Chmielewski had been drinking in the non-commissioned officers club with SS Master Sergeant Jentsch and SS Tech Sergeant Kluge all three had gone through the camp (345). Grill does not believe they were the only two SS to be involved in beatings resulting in death (268).
SS in Camp
SS Master Sergeant Jentsch was head clerk of the SS under Chmielewski. Schmidt was head clerk under Seidler. “The labor commitment leader and role call leader during the time of Chmielewski was Brust, Kluge, Damaski [sic], and Knockl” (345)
Deaths in the Camp
Deaths in the camp occurred in many forms. Prisoners were shot when trying to escape,
killed by electrical current, baths, gassing, hangings and undernourishment
(347). Grill personally participa
During his service in Gusen I, from1940-1945, he only saw two dead prisoners carried past the post office, shot while trying to escape and so could not offer testimony other than hearsay about the gassings or bathing-to-death or other means of death at Gusen (353). During his work at Gusen I, he never had anything to do with prisoners’ living quarters (340). He never went into the camp after 1 or because he did not reside there. He only went into the barracks (343).
Chmielewski and his inner group were the only ones who knew
about the deaths by gassing and baths (349).
Grill wasn’t allowed into the inner camp until 1942 when he
received a pass with a photograph. Until that time he had to enter accompanied
by a block leader (349), he was never as far back in the camp as the baths are
described to be. Grill suggests that Kowalski and others have confused him with
Tech Sergeant Gross, who looked like Grill but was a great friend of Chmielewski’s
so much so that Chmielewski took Gross with him when he left for Hertogenbosch