Auschwitz Trial Told 75% of Jewish Victims Met Death Immediately

At least 75% of the Jewish prisoners who arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp had been marched directly to death in the gas chambers, the court trying 22 former Auschwitz administrators and medical personnel here was told this weekend.

The testimony was given by Mrs. Helen Cougno, an Austrian-born Greek citizen. She was brought to Auschwitz in March, 1943, with her husband and two teen-age children in the first transport of 2,500 Greek Jews from Salonika. She said that the Jews who were not immediately killed were either worked or tortured to death.

Meanwhile, a former SS sergeant who had served two years for torturing inmates at Dachau was arrested again at the Auschwitz trial here, after testifying on behalf of one of the defendants. The prosecution announced that George Engelschall, who was also a guard at Auschwitz as well as at the Dachau death camp, was under suspicion of participating in some of the atrocities committed by his friend, former SS Sgt. Hans Stark, one of the 22 men on trial.

Previous witnesses had testified that Engelschall had joined Stark in forcing a Polish Jew called “Big Isaac” to drown 21 fellow inmates, including Isaac’s own father. Engelschall was sent to jail to await trial.

Also at the trial this weekend, a prosecution witness, Peter Budan, gave testimony that conflicted with what he had told the court’s officers in pre-trial hearings; Budan, a Munich businessman and a former inmate and trustee of Auschwitz, said that many witnesses had told “fairy tales” about the defendants. He claimed that defendants Oswald Kaduk and Wilhelm Boger could not have been seen shooting inmates as scores of witnesses have testified.

In cross-examination, Budan admitted that he had himself whipped Russian Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz when they refused to obey his orders. The trial will be resumed tomorrow. The proceedings in the Auschwitz case have been under way since last December.

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