FRANKFURT (Jan. 16)
Hans Stark, a 42-year-old farmer, became today the first defendant in the Auschwitz murder camp trial here to admit be killed inmates while serving on the staff of the camp in which between 3,000 and 4,000 victims–most of them Jews–were annihilated.
Stark, who served as an SS officer candidate at the camp intermittently from 1940 to 1943, said he had dropped cylinders of Zykion-B poison gas into the camp’s tightly sealed old crematorium and thus asphyxiated Jewish men and women.
Speaking calmly and with self-assurance, the defendant said “it was terrible. They screamed and hasped for 10 to 15 minutes. Then everything was still. After that, he and the SS men who helped drop the poison gas into the chamber entered it wearing gas masks.
Stark testified that the victims looked grotesque, saying shooting people is one thing but killing them with gas is inhuman.” He said he was forced to take part in such actions by Rudoli Hoess, then the camp commandant who, Stark said, told me either I help or he could put me down there with them.”
The executions took place in the fall of 1941 and included one of the earliest killing by gas at the camp. Stark petitioned the court that he be judged in accordance with juvenile laws because he was under 21 when stationed at Auschwitz. He admitted taking part in three executions by shooting at the camp, but insisted that be had killed prisoners only once during this time.
On one occasion, he said, he herded 20 to 30 Jewish women and children–the latter including some only five years old–into the crematorium for execution by shooting but he did not himself do any shooting then. “What did you think at the time?” Presiding Judge Hans Hofmeyer asked him. He replied: “I thought they had been convicted by a court or something. I thought it was all legal.”