Testimony of Oskar Tandler given on
Oskar Tandler, a 57 year old weaver (395) was born in
Tandler joined the NSDAP
Tandler is asked a series of questions about statements he made in an earlier interrogation:
Asked if he recalled saying in the earlier interrogation (416) that he was a block leader “from the end of 1941 until November 1943” (417). Tandler explained, “That has to be understood in this way, that one could be used at all times as a block leader as well as an interpreter or as a detail leader” (418).
In the earlier interrogation, directly after this answer,
Tandler had explained his duties as block leader. “I had to look after the
welfare of the inmates, to see that there was cleanliness and discipline in the
blocks over which I had charge, that the inmates got their food distribu
In the earlier interrogation, he had then been asked, “As block leader, where you in charge of other inmates?” His answer had been, “Yes, in the block I was in charge of there were only Russian inmates. They were under my orders and I had to take care of their food supply and see that they were clean” (418). Tandler, in the present trial, says that he does not recall having made this statement: “Not in this sense” (418).
He was unaware that he was referred to as the “Ukrainian” (429).
SS Captain Chmielewski was in charge of Gusen I until he
(Chmielewski) left sometime in 1942. Tandler got to know Chmielewski’s group,
(399) “the officers in the immediate vicinity of Chmielewski’s office” (400), Tech Sergeant
Gross, Kluge, Fassler, Jentzsch, Dameshke,
and Brust, the latter “one of the quietest men I have ever gotten to know as a
role-call leader” (399). Jenstzsch was in the SS
office, the right-hand man of Chmielewski. Gross and Kluge were
labor-commitment leaders. Brust and Damaschke were roll call-leaders about whom
Tandler says, “I do not include them in the group around Chmielewski” (399).
Chmielewski’s group consumed large quantities of alcohol which led to violent
behavior. Under the influence they would break everything in the
non-commissioned officer’s club (400). Chmielewski’s group consis
Chmielewski gave Tandler the Detail Well Construction Weihe [sic]
“approximately from the beginning to the middle of November 1941” (401)
which he comple
After the Detail Well Construction ended Chmielewski made Tandler the interpreter of Polish and Russian for all of Gusen I (402). Tandler had to interpret for the Political Department in inheritance cases, criminal investigations, and divorce cases. His main interpretation work was for work details. He had to tell inmates how to use their tools and tell them what work had to be done [presumably in Polish](402) until the Russians arrived, and then he was translator for the Russian block and for the work details (403).
Tandler told the court that he never saw Grill with
Chmielewski’s group. He testifies that the only time he saw Grill was when he
went to the post office. Grill went home after work. Tandler also testifies
that he rarely saw Grill at the non-commissioned officers club and does not
remember with whom Grill associa
In June or July of 1942, approximately 300-400 young Russians
came from Mauthausen and were put in Block 24. SS Technical Sergeant Kluge was
in charge of the block for three or four weeks until he was given the job of
labor commitment leader (404). Initially just the interpreter for the young
Russians, Tandler took charge of the young Russian block from “the end of June,
the beginning of July 1942, until May, 1944 with the exception of the time from
November, 1943 until March, 1944, during which time I was sick” (404) (416). He
characterized his relationship with the young Russians as “a father to his
family.” This characterization was given
to him not by the Russians but by his “SS buddies” (404). He told the court
that when the young Russians marched to work, they sang. At first they sang
German and Russian songs, but SS Captain Chmielewski fo
According to Tandler the young Russians’ average day went thus: A half hour after roll call they were marched, singing, to their place of work where Tandler handed them over to an SS man, a skilled worker, under whose tutelage they worked as apprentices to become stone cutters (405). The Young Russians worked shorter days than the older inmates. They worked a half an hour after roll call and they returned a half an hour earlier (405). Tandler gives the court a description of a Wednesday afternoon: “On Wednesday afternoon I drilled them in marching while they were singing or did athletics, and on Wednesday afternoon at I went with them to a movie” (405). Saturday afternoon they were “altogether free” (405). Tandler tells the court that he enjoyed marching with “the boys” (405) and that they enjoyed it as well (405). He denies that, as Pedro Gomez testified, he used singing and marching as a form of punishment which killed many (431). He tells the court that he knows they enjoyed it because after he had received the orders from Chmielewski that the Russians had to sing (405), several inmates who spoke German (ten to twenty) offered to write the German words in Russian so that others would be able to sing (406).
No relationships were built between young Russians and the
older Russians because they were prohibi
He told the court that none of the young Russians from Block
24 were ever execu
He also denies Pedro Gomez’ testimony that prisoners contrac
Russian Prisoners-of War (POW)
Tandler says he never beat a Russian POW (415).
The Russian POWs arrived at Gusen I at the end of September
or beginning of October 1941 (416). For the first four to six weeks, they were
put into “quarantine” (419) and then sent out into work details at the
beginning of December, mostly to the stone quarries to be used as stone cutters
(419). They were in Blocks 13, 14, 15 and 16, which became known as the
“Russian Camp” (406). Tech Sergeant Knockl was in
charge of the Russian Blocks. “Block leader and detail leader in the stone
quarry were SS Staff Sergeant Becker and
(408). Later, Smernov, a Russian and former
captain of the Cossacks was added as a block leader and also served as
interpreter in the camp when Tandler was with outside details (408). The Russian blocks were fenced off from the
rest of the camp and there was wire going around the fence. There was a guard
Tandler says that he never heard anything about the gassing
of Russians in Block 16 or other crimes while in the camp, although “Lately I
have heard a lot of stories about it” (408). He denies ever having heard, as
Kowalski testified, of the gassing of 156 Russians or ever having stood near Jentzsch in the
camp, or with Jentzsch, Seidler, Brust or Slupinski
while Slupinski wore a Tyrolean outfit. He does
remember one evening when Block Leader Knockl told
the block eldests that prisoners had to clear the
barracks the next morning because their barracks had to be disinfec
According to Tandler the Russians were infes
Tandler again sta
He tells the court that when the Russian prisoners arrived
“from a front collection camp” (410), they were badly undernourished (410,
429). They used to pick up ga
Kamienski had testified that while
the Russians were in quarantine they were only given half a ration and that is
why they would eat ga
“Freezing” of the Russians
The worst deaths came in January 1942. Tandler tells the court that no one gave consideration to the fact that the prisoners were weak and undernourished. Everyone had to work whether they were able to or not. Tandler describes January 1942 as being a “hard winter” (419). He goes on to testify “during the month of January a few hundred of them were brought back from the stone quarry frozen to death or nearly frozen to death. For this reason out of my own initiative several times I went to the camp commander Chmielewski. He told me: ‘That is none of your business. Take care of your own affairs”’ (419). Work was stopped at the end of January when the number of deaths increased (420).
Tandler states that he was never a detail leader in the work details of Gusen I and so had nothing to do with the prisoners being taken to work or the manner in which they were loaded onto cars (420). Staff Sergeant Becker and Kuehtreier were the detail leaders and block leaders in the stone quarry (408).
Tandler denies Krause’s testimony in which he (Krause)
states that those Russians who survived the winter were gassed in the spring
(421). Tandler also denies defense witness Lutte
Tandler also denies (433) Kamienski’s
testimony that Tandler beat the Russian POWs and kicked them with his feet when
they did not understand his poorly transla
Deaths at Gusen
During the middle of December 1942 a large number of inmates died (419). The most deaths at Gusen occurred during the fall of 1941 and winter and spring of 1942 (433).
Tandler does recall hearing about bathings-to-death while at Gusen. He did not witness these incidents and cannot estimate how many died, but he did hear about it often (433).
Tandler states, “Invalids were given baths and many of them died on account of it” (433). According to Tandler Chmielewski and his group were responsible for administering these baths at night after consuming large quantities of alcohol, and that they were known for doing other things [unspecified] as well (434). He goes on to say, “I never saw anything like that, and I wouldn’t have let them do it if I had seen them” (434).
Tandler recalls that a Russian was brought down from Mauthausen in either 1941 or 1942, but says that he witnessed this Russian’s execution as a spectator (424). In an earlier interrogation, he had said he never saw an execution but only heard about them (425).
Tattoos and Soap
Tandler says that he never saw any tattooed skin being dried or heard about soap being made from human beings. He calls these stories “fairy tales” (432).