Sworn testimony of Robert Platschek; age: 23; citizenship: Hungarian Jew
In the Birkenau camp in Poland, the SS men gathered there would place a rope at the height of four to five feet, somewhat like in football, tightening it from side to side and forcing several hundred people to go underneath it. If a man was able to walk under the rope without stooping, he was taken to the camp to work. If not, he was taken to the gas chambers, where they used hydrogen cyanide. The killing took from one to two minutes. This group was taken to the camp hospital, where the weak and sick were first placed.
The number of prisoners in the camp amounted to 60,000–80,000. They were German criminals of different kinds, mostly political prisoners. Those political prisoners usually received better treatment than the others, because they were German, but some of them were treated harshly. A number of those prisoners had been placed in the camp for a period of two years. They tried to behave themselves and work. There were also some Slovaks, who were to stay in the camp longer.
As far as the sending of people to gas chambers is concerned, there were no exceptions. However, they would usually take people from the hospitals, who were very sick or weak. The prisoners knew about it, so they did not admit that they were sick and did not ask to be put in the hospital, because they would be included in the next group destined for cremation.
I don’t know anything about the gas chambers, except that the gas chambers and crematoria were situated in one building. The gas chambers were opened every month. German prisoners were also selected if their health declined or they became unable to work. The work consisted in disassembling and scraping engines from aeroplanes, etc., in order to provide the Germans with metals. These parts came from American and German aeroplanes brought from the front.
The camp itself was clean and commanded by Dr. Mengele. I saw a three-day-old Jewish child, born in the camp, wrapped in a newspaper, still alive, who was thrown on a pile of corpses destined for cremation. We all heard that it was Dr. Mengele who gave that order.