Sachsenhausen Trial Testimony
Extract from the trial of Anton Kaindl, former commandant of Sachsenhausen Death Camp
Public Prosecutor: What kind of exterminations
were committed in your camp?
Kaindl: Until mid of 1943, prisoners were killed by
shooting or hanging. For the mass exterminations, we used a
special room in the infirmary. There was a height gauge and a
table with an eye scope. There were also some SS wearing doctor
uniforms. There was a hole at the back of the height gauge. While
a SS was measuring the height of a prisoner, another one placed
his gun in the hole and killed him by shooting in his neck. Behind
the height gauge there was another room where we played music in
order to cover the noise of the shooting.
Public Prosecutor: Do you know if there was already an
extermination procedure in Sachsenhausen when you became
commandant of the camp?
Kaindl: Yes, there were several procedures. With the
special room in the infirmary, there was also an execution place
where prisoners were killed by shooting, a mobile gallows and a
mechanical gallows which was used for hanging three or four
prisoners at the same time.
Public Prosecutor: Did you change anything in these
Kaindl: In march 1943, I introduced gas chambers for the
Public Prosecutor: Was it your own decision?
Kaindl: Partially yes. Because the existing installations
were too small and not sufficient for the exterminations, I
decided to have a meeting with some SS officers, including the SS
Chief Doctor Baumkotter. During this meeting, he told me that
poisoning of prisoners by prussic acid in special chambers would
cause an immediate death. After this meeting, I decided to install
gas chambers in the camp for mass extermination because it was a
more efficient and more humane way to exterminate prisoners.
Public Prosecutor: Who was responsible for the
Kaindl: The commandant of the camp.
Public Prosecutor: So, it was you?
Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were exterminated
in Sachsenhausen while you were commandant of the camp?
Kaindl: More than 42,000 prisoners were exterminated
under my command, this number include 18.000 killed in the camp
Public Prosecutor: And how many prisoners died by
starvation during this same period?
Kaindl: I think 8,000 prisoners died by starvation during
Kaindl: Yes. On February 1st, 1945, I had a conversation
with the chief of the Gestapo, Muller. He ordered me to destroy
the camp with artillery bombing, aerial bombing or by spraying
gas. But due to technical problems, this order coming directly
from Himmler was impossible to fulfill.
Public Prosecutor: Suppose that there was no technical
problem, would you have carried out this order?
Kaindl: Of course. But it was impossible. An artillery or
an aerial bombing was impossible to hide from the local
population. And spraying gas was too dangerous for the local
population and the SS.
Public Prosecutor: What did you do then?
Kaindl: I had a meeting with Hohn and some others SS and
I ordered to exterminate all the ill prisoners, those who were
unable to work and, the most important, all the political
Public Prosecutor: Was this order fulfilled?
Kaindl: Yes, partially. During the night of February 2th,
the first prisoners were killed. There were plus or minus 150
prisoners. Until end of March 1945, we succeed in killing more
than 5,000 prisoners.
Public Prosecutor: Who was in charge of this
Kaindl: Accused Hohn was in charge of this operation.
Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were in the camp at
Kaindl: Approximately 45,000. On April 18th I was ordered
to embark all the prisoners on barges and to conduct the barge on
the Baltic sea where I had to sink it. But we had not enough time
to find enough barges for so many prisoners because the Red Army
was advancing too fast.
Public Prosecutor: What happened then?
Kaindl: I ordered the evacuation of all the prisoners
able to walk, first in direction of Wittstock, then to Lubeck
where they had to embark on ships and sunk.
Public Prosecutor: Did the prisoners received any care
during this evacuation?
Kaindl: No. 7,000 prisoners received nothing because we
had nothing to give them.
Public Prosecutor: Did these prisoners died by starvation
during this Death March?
Source: The Forgotten Camps