On 20 August 1947 in Kraków, District Investigative Judge Jan Sehn, member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, acting at the written request of the First Prosecutor of the Supreme National Tribunal, this dated 25 April 1947 (Ref. no. NTN 719/47), in accordance with the provisions of and procedure provided for under the Decree of 10 November 1945 (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 51, item 293), and in connection with art. 254, 107, and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, interviewed as a witness the person specified below, a former prisoner of the Auschwitz concentration camp, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Władysław Piątkowski|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Miedziana Street 65, flat 3|
I was interned at the Auschwitz concentration camp as a Polish political prisoner number 62053 between 27 August 1942 and March 1943, when I was transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on a mass transport.
I had spent the first five weeks of my time at the Auschwitz camp at block 11, which was the block of the bunkers and quarantine. During my time there, the Blockführer duties were discharged by SS- Oberscharführer Wilhelm Gehring. He is the person whose photograph has been now shown to me (the photograph of Wilhelm Gehring was presented). I recognize him beyond all reasonable doubt and I am not mistaken as to his identity.
He was the butcher of prisoners. He tortured them and beat them in an inhumane fashion until they crumpled to the ground. The victims he abused were taken to the hospital, and in many cases straight to the morgue. He was capable of beating a block elder unconscious with a rod because some prisoner was lagging behind. These were commonplace occurrences. He selected people for labor from among the prisoners under quarantine, and those who were weak and unfit for hard labor he designated to be sent straight to a gas chamber. In the final period of the quarantine, Gehring, at the request of the Arbeitseinsatzführer [work service leader], was supposed to supply him with prisoners for particular types of jobs. In such cases, Gehring had all the prisoners under quarantine gathered in the yard of block 11 and asked who was not capable of hard work. Since these were all new prisoners, unfamiliar with the circumstances at the camp, many fell into this trap and raised their hands in response to this call. Gehring would move them aside and then a van would arrive to pick them up and transport them to the gas chambers. Among those who perished that way was Basler, a Kraków attorney. He is the one whose photographs, from the collection presently displayed at the Kraków branch of the Polish Red Cross, I have found and I am now submitting. (The witness is presenting a photograph of prisoner 60719). He was a feeble and emaciated man; I got to know him better after I arrived at block 11 and we talked often. In many cases, I helped him get up because due to exhaustion he could not stand straight. Some two weeks after my arrival at block 11, that is around mid-September 1942, during one such selection performed by Gehring, Basler declared himself unfit for hard labor. He was moved aside with a group of prisoners, who likewise had raised their hands, indicating that they were unfit for hard labor. From among those who had remained, Gehring selected various skilled workers requested by the Arbeitseinsatz [work service]. When he moved away from us, the long-serving prisoners familiar with the circumstances at the camp told Basler what awaited him, that is, that he was going to the crematorium. Basler understood his position and started to plead with Gehring so he would assign him to any job. He declined and on the next day Basler and the entire group were transported to a gas chamber. No one has heard of him ever since.
At that time, the Lagerführer, that is camp leader, was a very short SS man, nicknamed “Łokietek” [elbow-high] for that reason. I do not remember his name. He was an extremely cruel man. I remember when during an evening roll-call he ordered everybody down on the snow and mud because one prisoner in the column had moved. All prisoners from one block lay in this position for the duration of the entire roll-call. On another occasion, I saw Aumeier torture a prisoner until he passed out, because due to sickness and weakness he had failed to report for the roll-call and remained in the block. After he was found, the block elders brought him, completely exhausted and drained. Aumeier beat this prisoner and kicked him when he was already on the ground. The said prisoner did not get up again and lay on the ground for the remainder of the roll-call.
The report was read out. At this point the interview and the report were concluded.