Interrogation of suspected war criminal
(LIB 6312) and (LIB 6313) Two German civilians, a man and a woman, enter a room and cremate a body, feeding the corpse into the flames. The narrator indicates that this is the crematory of the city cemetery of Hanover (Hanover-Ahlem, a subcamp of Neuengamme), where the bodies of slave laborers were cremated. The man has been doing this work [Heizer] since 1924 and will be interviewed by US Captain D.C. Nolan and an interpreter, Lieutenant A. Ackerman. An American soldier carrying a movie camera is briefly visible in the frame. After the body is cremated Nolan and Ackerman ask questions of the cemetery worker. He says he has been working here twelve years and that 384 people from the concentration camp have been cremated here. At the soldiers' request, the man brings the records of those cremated for the soldiers to examine. The records [Totenzettel] are small cards that list the name, birth place, and reason for death for each prisoner. A small string is attached to each card.
Another civilian enters the room and is interrogated. The man says he is the director of the cemetery and that his job was to bury all of the bodies that were brought to him. The crematory worker reenters, holding the death cards. CU of one of the cards, which indicates that the Polish worker was executed by hanging. CU of the next card, for Symcha Pajczer, a tailor from Łódź, who died of heart failure at the age of 39. Ackerman reads two more of the cards to Nolan, then asks the crematory worker about the role of the cemetery director. The crematory worker says it was the director's job to decide who would be cremated. The director objects and says it was the police who decided who was to be cremated and who not. Ackerman and the director then have a very heated conversation, only some of which Ackerman translates for Nolan. Ackerman demands to know why the bodies were cremated instead of buried. He goes through the cards angrily, scoffing at the causes of death and reacting even more angrily to the names of Jewish victims. He asks the man about the purpose of the little strings attached to the cards and the man says they were attached to the bodies. Ackerman contradicts him and says they come from the Gestapo. The crematory worker confirms that the tags came from the Gestapo. Ackerman says sarcastically that the cemetery director doesn't know anything and asks him how long he has been a member of the party. The director says since 1929 but he finished with the party in 1933. The crematory worker says the director was a Blutorden Traeger (medal awarded to those who participated in Hitler's 1923 putsch attempt) and member of the SS. The director strongly denies this. Ackerman asks the crematory worker to repeat the accusation, then translates this lengthy conversation for Nolan, leaving out some details. He says that the crematory worker seems honest and claims to have been a socialist, and to have saved the death cards in order to prove what had been going on. Ackerman recommends further interrogation of the cemetery director.
- Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration
Record last modified: 2020-09-22 13:10:21
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1004596