On 19 June 1947 in Kraków, municipal judge Dr Henryk Gawacki, acting deputy prosecutor of the District Court in Kraków, with the participation of a reporter, Aniela Bereźnicka, senior registrar of the Prosecutor’s Office of the District Court in Kraków, pursuant to Article 20 of the provisions introducing the Code of Criminal Procedure, in connection with articles 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, heard the person named below as a witness, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Kazimierz Szelest|
|Date and place of birth||25 March 1917 in Kraków|
|Parents’ names||Jan and Wanda, née Piątek|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Pawła Popiela Street 6, flat 10|
|Relationship to the parties||none|
From August 1940 until 18 or 20 January 1945, I stayed in the Auschwitz camp as a prisoner, and during this period, from June 1942 until the end of my stay in the camp, I was involved in the kitchen for the prisoners or in the storeroom of this kitchen where I cut the meat. This kitchen was located just off the main gate to camp no. 1, and its window overlooked this gate. Through the window I saw exactly everyone who left or came into the camp. Having spent so long a time in the camp, I was thoroughly aware of all the details, even down to the individual members of the camp crew, because seeing them almost every day, I knew where each of them was occupied and what activities he was doing. Therefore, regarding some of the former members of this crew I may state the following: I recognize the defendant Wilhelm Gehring shown to me today without any doubt as one who in 1942 would very often, on the way to his service, walk by the kitchen where I worked, and from other prisoners I learned that he was serving as an SS man in the infamous block 11, the so-called block of death. Block 11 received prisoners either sentenced to death by shooting (known as a “shoot-out” in the slang of the camp) on the basis of a decision made by the Politische Abteilung [political department], or prisoners assigned to the so-called punitive unit, SK (Strafkompanie). The punitive unit was located in block 11, and from this block, the prisoners would go out or were driven to work, and they had it the hardest. As a result of the extremely brutal treatment of these prisoners during their stay in the block as well as the hard work, the majority of the prisoners from the punitive unit perished and only a few survived. I was in block 11 in 1943 from September to October in cell no. 8 on charges of belonging to a secret military organization in the camp. I was sentenced to be shot and at the last moment when, with my hands tied up with wire, I went out to the yard against the wall, I was released by a special order, when my superior from the kitchen Karl Egersdorfer intervened on my behalf. During my stay in block 11, I witnessed the executions of prisoners and because I’m a big man with a strong constitution, they used me to carry bodies from where they fell to where they would lie, so as to make room for the next prisoners to be shot.
On this basis, and on the basis of what other prisoners told me, I assert that all the SS men who served in block 11 participated in the shooting of prisoners and if they didn’t actually pull the trigger themselves, they otherwise assisted in leading the prisoners to the place of execution. As a rule, the prisoners would be beaten and tortured, not only those sentenced to death, but those in the SK [Strafkompanie] as well.
The defendant Wilhelm Gehring had a reputation among the prisoners of a brutal guard. I can’t name the prisoners who told me about the defendant Wilhelm Gehring. I would like to add that I met this defendant many times before my assignment to the kitchen for the prisoners and so I remembered his exact figure. I personally was never harmed by Wilhelm Gehring.
The report was concluded and signed after being read out.