Testimony of Gotthard Krause given on June 19, 1947
Summarized by Eric Weigand
Gotthard Krause, a forty-seven year old construction
specialist working for Landrat, Neustadt
Huardt was called as a witness for the defense
(225). Before the war, he was convic
First placed on the “snow detail” at Gusen, he spent
November and December 1940 and January 1941 “taking care of the transport of
snow” (226) until he was made block clerk of Block 23, the “block of Spaniards”
(227). He later moved to Block 2, where prisoners who had special duties in the
camp, such as canteen duties or clerk duties, lived (231). In addition to being
Block 2’s clerk, he was assigned to the mailroom. His assignment to the
mailroom was unofficial, however. “The labor-service leader and the roll-call
leader didn’t make any objections to this work of mine, but the camp commander
At the time he was clerk of Block 23, he says four thousand Spaniards arrived in Gusen I and they were “distributed over some of the blocks” (227). At the time, he estimates there were perhaps six or seven thousand prisoners in KZ Gusen I (227).
German Prisoners in Gusen I 1942
Krause estimates the number of German prisoners in Gusen in 1942 to be 600 to 800 out of a “total strength of 9000” (246).
As block clerk, he kept up to date lists of prisoners, their
religions, their work details and repor
As block clerk, Krause’s duties took him to the camp clerk’s office three times a day where he had “exclusive” (228) contact with the camp clerk and his assistants who were under the supervision of the roll-call leader (228-229). The Gusen death register was kept by Camp Clerk Nos. 1 and 2 (275).
Roll-call leaders were responsible to the first and second camp leaders. Krause agrees with the defense counsel that, in relationship to the camp commanders’ daily contacts, there was similarity between the roll-call leaders’ duties and the duties of the adjutant of a regimental colonel. Similarly, the second camp leaders could be considered the camp leaders’ adjutants along with the roll-call leaders, labor-service leaders and labor-commitment leaders (229).
SS Administration at KZ Gusen I
SS Guard Companies
There were four guard companies that were under the supervision of SS Lieutenant Colonel Obermayer, and the names of the officers in these guard companies are Schmutzler, Rismer, Vaessen, and Buler, although he also says they “changed in between” [object of preposition unclear] (234). In relation to furloughs given to guards, Krause is unsure who had the final decision. It might have been Obermayer or even Ziereis because he recalls several orders for furloughs or leaves arrived from Mauthausen (235).
Neither Obermayer or other guard leaders had much to do with prisoners in Krause’s memory (234).
“Real Camp,” “Large Camp,” Chain of Guards, and Work Details
Krause defines the “real camp” as the camp within the electric fence and the wall. He defines the “large camp” as including the SS barracks and the workshops. When prisoners were working in the quarry, a large “guardening detail” [sic] (236) or chain of guards was required. Thus, during the day, the SS barracks were surrounded by the chain of guards, but at night only the protective custody camp was surrounded by guards (236).
In the morning, prisoners would be on
Krause reports that guards had little influence over prisoners. However, if a work detail “got a bad reputation through the camp commander and then special command details were organized with the dog detail, etc.” (238). This happened frequently and when it happened there were always a few dead bodies in the evenings (238).
Schuettauf and Prisoners
As Krause recalls, the prisoners never had any connection with the accused Schuettauf (238). Schuettauf had just one general reputation among the prisoners, that of General Belly. Krause testifies that Schuettauf did not have any influence on the work details as far as the carrying out of the work was concerned (239). He also goes on to say that he never heard the name Schuettauf in connection with any incidents of inmates getting worked to death (238) or in connection with the executions that took place in Gusen (242).
Krause does recall seeing Schuettauf within the protective custody camp in the morning when he would approach the desk of the labor-service leader to get instructions for the guard details.
Krause also recalls seeing Shuettauf within the protective
custody camp when the entire administrative staff was present for executions.
Krause witnessed six or seven such executions by shooting or hanging. On these
occasions Ziereis would order the execution and the entire camp would be
assembled (240) in the evenings and an announcement would be made about why the
man was to be hanged (241). In regard to the hangings, these were carried out
Krause witnessed two shootings and heard a few others. He
states that six SS men carried out the shootings at Gusen between the two stone
blocks, Nos. Six and Seven before which was a pile of gravel and bricks which
were used to catch the bullets (241). He
believes that it was probably the duty of the command leader to select the
execution detail, and that this was an assignment of the guard company
(242). Krause explains that the
execution was witnessed by “the company leader, camp leaders and the command,
the physician, and perhaps one or two people from headquarters staff which were
When an execution was going to take place, everyone in the
camp knew about it. Such events were
commonly discussed amongst the prisoners, along with the names of the SS men
After getting moved from Block 23, the “Block of Spaniards,”
to Block 2, Krause worked in the mailroom unofficially, in addition to being
the block clerk. Krause was assigned to
the mail room where he would work under SS Staff Sergeant Wil
Krause testifies that Grill was a member of the headquarters
staff but was not close enough to the
Along with Krause and Grill in the mail room were the “so-called censors” (245). These were usually SS men who, on account of illness or some physical disability, were unable to go on duty in their companies. Prisoners were employed there as censors only when Krause was working: “I was a German, a Spaniard, Amadea Zinkervrell, a Pole, Marian Schiffzcyk, then the Pole, Edward Cynajek, then Stanislaw Nogaj, and then there was an Austrian employed, I don’t remember his name anymore (245).
Krause recalls that the camp’s postal guidelines and
regulations for Gusen were established by SS Altfuldisch
at Mauthausen (246). The instructions were brought to
the knowledge of the prisoners by being “prin
Originally, the letters could be twelve lines long, the same
number as lines on each page (247). But when the one or two censors (whom Grill
Prisoners were allowed to write two letters a month, and some prisoners tried to give hidden messages in their letters. These prisoners were punished directly with five to ten blows with a stick or just a few slaps to the face (248). If official reports were made of the violation of the general postal rules, the individual would receive twenty-five blows or would have been sent to the punishment company (248).
Krause himself testifies to being punished for handing out a
letter to prisoner Rudi Meixner uncensored, a letter
which Grill had seen already (249).
Krause’s punishment for this was ten blows with a stick. This violation,
in the understanding of the SS, might have involved the exchange of messages
endangering the security of the camp would normally be punished by a transfer
to a punishment detail after a report to the camp commander. However, Grill
When asked how many packages the camp received, he states “I
don’t know the exact number, but per month there were 1800 to 2000. Months
Usually two SS men, SS Staff Sergeant Grill, or SS Corporal Reitloff, or SS Iffert and two inmates, handled the packages as soon as they arrived in camp (252). When packages arrived, if they were damaged prisoners entered the item in a special log in the presence of “of the woman who delivered the mail. The entries had to be made then because the Postal Office had to make good for insured packages” (275). Originally, the censoring was done in a room in the headquarters building, and then in a special room within the camp (253).
In 1942, the camp administration ordered that “a part of the
contents of the packages had to be removed when the packages were censored and
these contents were to be kept separately for special uses” (252). There was a
limit as to quantity allowed per prisoner of certain items, but Krause says
this rule was never adhered to (253). “The inmate would open the packages, the
SS man checked the content of the package for fo
The items removed were distribu
Krause recalls that there were cases of inmates believing
Grill had ordered parts of their packages be removed and either kept, or given
to other inmates, but these persons were then informed of their error
(254). Along with articles getting
removed to give to other inmates, there were some articles that were removed
and were taken to the Jourhaus for the sole use of the SS (255). These were on some special order that had
nothing to with Grill. These were
incidents that just happened a
In Grill’s defense, Krause says that prisoners seeing packages of the deceased or packages that had been misaddressed and therefore were undeliverable carried from the mailroom assumed that these were packages intended for them (267). Red Cross packages were sent to the addressee, usually “Red Spaniards” (278).
Krause relates that he was a “prisoner buyer” when he was in the mailroom. In explaining how much power the block leaders had over prisoners, he says, “Another example of how I worked---for a time I was the camp buyer. If I had for example bought tobacco for the inmates and this tobacco wasn’t in my block, the block leader comes in and takes for himself two or three or even four packages, I couldn’t say anything about it though the packages would be missing because if he didn’t punish me immediately, the next day he would find fault with me and punish me for sure. I couldn’t possibly save myself” (272).
Chmielewski and Night Beatings
There were rumors of Chmielewski going through the prisoner billets between one and at night. The name Grill was once mentioned in connection with these rumors. Krause states that it was possible that Grill might have had night duty in the Jourhaus, but if so, he would have then had to report to the mailroom the next morning as usual. He did not live in the SS barracks but in St. Georgen. Although he heard once from a block clerk that Grill had been involved in an episode with Chmielewski when prisoners’ barracks were entered at night, he could not remember which block clerk he had heard this from (257-58).
According to Krause, the first showers were construc
The open shower exis
Usually, when inmates in a block heard the orders “Fall out for bathing” (260), they would strip and then go to the bathhouse. No one led them to the bathhouse. “The healthy ones arrived there first, and the sick and weak ones stumbled behind and they were generally the ones who remained there.” If the SS personnel arrived to supervise, the inmates then knew what was going to happen because usually the inmates took the baths alone (260). The order to bath happened several times a week, and the number of “so-called baths” (261) happened so frequently that he could not give a number (261).
Krause tells that he learned of such events only hours afterwards because the inmates had to carry away the bodies and the block clerks had to go there to make the identification of the bodies (258). One evening in 1942 around nine or ten at night, Krause was in the dispensary and heard “quite a bit of hollering outside. To my question, what was going on there, I was told the SS are bathing inmates again” (258). At that time Krause was not a block clerk, as he was sick in the dispensary, but he maintains that all of the block clerks knew about these incidents because they had to identify and register the bodies that other inmates had taken from the showers. These incidents were generally talked about among the inmates (259).
Krause said he could not personally identify any of the
defendants in this trial as having been involved in bathing-to-death and had
never heard any of the defendants names mentioned in relation to
bathing-to-death (261). Schmitt, Jungblut and Jentsch were mentioned as having participa
Gassing of Russian POWs
Krause heard of gassings in Gusen but only remembered the
time 132 Russians were gassed in Block 16. That night, Krause’s block was
ordered to leave their clothes behind and go to sleep in another block (262),
and then their block was gassed, something he recalls happening three times in
all his experience in Gusen I. Later they heard that a physician had ordered
Russian Block Number 16 to be “deloused” as well, by which he ironically meant
gassed (262). That night, when he arrived at his temporary quarters, a “block
in the twenties” (263), he heard that the Russians in Block 16, who were
suffering from minor ailments, had been told they, too, would be deloused, but
that they were to stay in place (263-264). “They were told that that if the gas
would cause them to sneeze they should simply pull their blankets over their
faces and that would stop” (264). The next morning at roll call 132 of them
were announced to have died in Block 16. The only name Krause recalls connec
Hartung, who lived with Schoenewolf
in the SS non-commissioned officers home outside the camp, worked in the
“telephone central” (265). He was not prohibi
Jews at Gusen 1943
Krause testifies that there were Jews in Gusen in 1943 (265).
Americans at Gusen
Krause does not recall any Americans at Gusen I (266) and does not recall the name of Willi Tuttas (274)
Tandler and the Young Russians
Oscar Tandler was the block leader of the young Russians in
Block 24. Krause recalls that Tandler was often called the Father of the
Russians because “while he was very strict with the young Russians, he did try
to educate them” (266). He would bring in the camp band to the block and teach
the young Russians marching songs. Krause says, “It was surprising for us old
persons who were never allowed to sing somewhat surprising to see these young Russians marching through
the camp singing the German marching song, ‘Erika’” (266). Krause also reports
that Tandler argued with Block Eldest Ernst Halle over
According to Krause, the first transport of Russians arrived in the end of 1941 and were put on stone quarry detail. Those that survived the stone quarry labor were later gassed by March or April of 1942. A sign was even placed on the barracks that read “Prisoners of War” (270-271). As a block clerk, Krause knew it was not out of the norm at Gusen to have six, seven, even ten deaths a night, but in Block 16, where Russians were held in the winter of 1941 and spring of 1942, 20, 25 or even 30 deaths a day was not unusual (270).
The delousings were an attempt to
control fleas and insects in the barracks. Due to these fleas, spot
Construction of Crematory 1942
According to Krause, there was no crematory at Gusen when he
arrived there in 1940. Commander Ziereis
ordered the construction of the crematory at Gusen (234) in 1942 (232) to burn
the corpses of the people who had died on account of undernourishment because
the crematory at