The voices of Holocaust survivors and Nazi death camp guards can be heard in an online audio archive launched Monday of testimony from Germany’s first Auschwitz trial half a century ago.
The Fritz Bauer Institute put online hundreds of hours of recordings of German-language testimony about the horrors of Auschwitz, where more than one million people were murdered during World War II, most of them Jews.
The institute, which is dedicated to studying the Holocaust, a decade ago published written transcripts of 430 hours of testimony and audio recordings of 100 hours, but it has now made the material available online at www.auschwitz-prozess.de
The witness testimony from the 1963-65 Frankfurt trial of 20 death camp guards, which was originally kept in the city archives, includes recordings of survivors recalling the horrors of Auschwitz as well as defendants denying culpability.
One of the witnesses, inmate and medical doctor Otto Wolken, in the trial recalled the horror of those who immediately upon arrival at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland were sent to the gas chambers, among them many young mothers and children.
“Those who at first seemed to be the lucky ones were placed in the labour camp, but for them it also ended with death — but only after hideous, terrible agony, fear and torture,” Wolken, aged 60 during the trial, told the court.
“It’s hard to say who pulled the better lot. Because even the few who eventually survived, they too are scarred for life. Each of them for the rest of their lives carries with them what they mentally and physically endured there.”
Mostly European Jews but also Roma, homosexuals and other persecuted groups perished at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland from 1940 until it was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.