The Testimony of Franz Blaha about Dachau

In Trial of the Major War Criminals, Proceedings Vol. 5, Nuremburg, 1947.

Note that even though virtually all of Blaha’s testimony has been discredited by researchers and historians in the years since the trial, his testimony about phony atrocities at Dachau is much more detailed than the testimonies of similar atrocities at other camps such as Auschwitz and Birkenau. That is, for many years, we had much more evidence to support the claim of mass homicidal gassings at Dachau than we did for mass homicidal gassings at Auschwitz.

The difference, of couse, is that we still believe the testimonies concerning the camps “liberated” by Soviet troops, while camps liberated by the western allies have been investigated since the war, and testimonies such as those of Blaha have been quietly discarded.

Monday, 14 January 1946
Morning Session

THE PRESIDENT: Would you have the witness brought in? I think one of the defendants’ counsel was about to cross-examine him.

[The witness, Blaha, took the stand.]

HERR LUDWIG BABEL (Counsel for the SS and SD): I would like to put to the witness a few practical questions which I think necessary both for a better understanding of the earlier testimony of the witness and for my own information.

The witness was in the concentration camp from 1941 to 1945 and should be well informed on conditions as they were. His memory, as is evident from his previous statements, seems to be excellent.

[Turning to the witness.]

Do you know how the proportion of political and criminal inmates changed during the various periods? What were the approximate figures of political and criminal inmates in Dachau?

BLAHA: In Dachau it varied. There were political prisoners, professional criminals, and the so-called black or asocial elements. I am, of course, speaking only of the German prisoners; the inmates of other nations were all political prisoners. Only the German inmates were divided into red, green, and black prisoners. The great majority of Germans were political prisoners.

HERR BABEL: Can you indicate the approximate proportion? A quarter, a half, or three-quarters?

BLAHA: I am sorry, I didn’t hear you.

HERR BABEL: Can you give figures? How many were political prisoners half, three-quarters, or how many? Can you give an approximate number?

BLAHA: I would say that of 5,000 German prisoners, 3,000 were political and 2,000 were green and black prisoners.

HERR BABEL: Was that the proportion during the whole 4- or 5-year period?

BLAHA: It changed; because many died, some Germans left, many were drafted, and there were many new arrivals. In the last years there were more and more political prisoners, because many of the green prisoners were drafted to the front.

HERR BABEL: What approximately was the total number in 1941, 1943, and 1945?

BLAHA: Do you mean the total number of prisoners?

HERR BABEL: Yes, the total number.

BLAHA: We had 8,000 to 9,000 in 1941; in 1943 there were 15,000 to 20,000; and between the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945 we had more than 70,000 or 80,000.

HERR BABEL: Another question: You mentioned that at first you worked in the plantations. What did you mean by plantations?

BLAHA: The plantations were a large estate of the SS, in which spices, medical herbs, and things of that sort were raised.

HERR BABEL: Was this plantation inside the camp?

BLAHA: No, it was in the near vicinity of the camp, not a part of it.

HERR BABEL: You also mentioned work in armament factories. I gathered from your testimony that these armament factories were partially within and partially outside the camp. Is that correct?

BLAHA: Yes, at first these so-called German armament works were only outside the camp. Then, as a result of the bombings, some sections were moved into the interior of the concentration camp.

HERR BABEL: What was the number of camp guards in 1941?

BLAHA: For actual guard duty usually three SS companies were in the camp, but at Dachau there were in addition a large garrison of SS and a Kommandantur. Guards were taken from other SS formations from time to time, when it was necessary. It varied and depended on how many guards were needed. For regular duty there were usually three companies.

HERR BABEL: Were the prisoners in the armament factories guarded during working hours?

BLAHA: Yes. Every labor detachment had a commander selected from the guard companies and, in addition, these so-called guards,

who went with the detachment to their place of work and then brought the prisoners back to the camp.

HERR BABEL: While you were at the camp, did you witness any ill-treatment on the part of these guards in the course of their daily activities?

BLAHA: Yes; a great deal.



HERR BABEL: For what reasons?

BLAHA: The reasons varied, depending on the nature of the guards or the commanders.

HERR BABEL: But you said you were occupied, indeed according to your statements, very much occupied.


HERR BABEL: How then did you have an opportunity of observing such ill-treatment?

BLAHA: I performed many autopsies on people either shot or beaten to death at their work, and made of official reports on the cause of death.

HERR BABEL: You said they were shot. Did you see such incidents yourself?


HERR BABEL: Then, how do you know that?

BLAHA: The bodies were brought to me from the place of work, and it was my duty to ascertain the cause of death; that the men had been beaten to death, for example, that the skull or ribs had been fractured, that the man had died of internal hemorrhage, or that he had been shot; I had to make an official report on the cause of death. Sometimes, but this was rare, when an investigation was conducted, I was called in as witness.

HERR BABEL: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, do you wish to re-examine the witness?

MR. DODD: I have no further questions to ask the witness at this time.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the prosecuting staff want to re-examine? Colonel Pokrovsky?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: At this stage of the Trial I have no further questions to ask the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can go.

[The witness left the stand.]

MR. DODD: I should like to ask the Tribunal at this time to take judicial notice of the findings and the sentences imposed by the Military Court at Dachau, Germany, on the 13th day of December 1945. The findings were dated the 12th and the sentences on the 13th. I have here a certified copy of the findings and the sentences, Document Number 3590-PS, which I should like to offer as Exhibit Number USA-664.

THE PRESIDENT: Have copies of this been given to the defendants?

MR. DODD: Yes. They have been sent to the defendants’ counsel information room.


MR. DODD: I have one other matter that I should like to take up very briefly before the Tribunal this morning. It is concerned with a matter that arose after I had left the courtroom to return to the United States.

On the 13th of December we offered in evidence Document Number 3421-PS, and Exhibit Numbers USA-252 and 254. They were, respectively, the Court will recall, sections of human skin taken from human bodies and preserved; and a human head, the head of a human being, which had been preserved. On the 14th day of December, according to the Record, counsel for the Defendant Kaltenbrunner addressed the Tribunal and complained that the affidavit, which was offered, of one Pfaffenberger, failed to state that the camp commandant at Buchenwald, one Koch, along with his wife, was condemned to death for having committed precisely these atrocities, this business of tanning the skin and preserving the head. And in the course of the discussion before the Tribunal the Record reveals that counsel for the Defendant Bormann, in addressing the Tribunal, stated that it was highly probable that the Prosecution knew that the German authorities had objected to this camp commandant Koch and, in fact, knew that he had been tried and sentenced for doing precisely these things. And there was some intimation, we feel, that the Prosecution, having this knowledge, withheld it from the Tribunal. Now, I wish to say that we had no knowledge at all about this man Koch at the time that we offered the proof; didn’t know anything about him except that he had been the commandant, according to the affidavit. But, subsequent to this objection we had an investigation made, and we have found that he was tried in 1944, indeed, by an SS court, but not for having tanned human skin nor having preserved a human head but for having embezzled some money, for what — as the judge who tried him tells us — was a charge of general corruption and for having murdered someone with whom he had some personal difficulties. Indeed, the judge, a Dr. Morgen, tells us that he saw the tattooed human skin and he saw a human head in Commandant Koch’s office and that he saw a lampshade there made out of human skin. But there were no charges at the time that he was tried for having done these things.

I would also point out to the Tribunal that, we say, the testimony of Dr. Blaha sheds further light on whether or not these exhibits, Numbers USA- 252 and 254, were isolated instances of that atrocious kind of conduct. We have not been able to locate the affiant. We have made an effort to do so, but we have not been able to locate him thus far.

THE PRESIDENT: Locate whom?

MR. DODD: The affiant Pfaffenberger, the one whose affidavit was offered.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Mr. Dodd.