On 29 September 1947 in Kraków, Appellate Municipal Judge Dr. Stanisław Żmuda, a member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, on the written motion of the first prosecutor of the Supreme National Tribunal, dated 25 April 1947 (file 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), in relation to 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||Izabella Sosnowska|
|Date and place of birth||23 August 1914, Kraków|
|Parents’ names||Benedykt and Stefania Freyman|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Occupation||professor at the State School of Music|
|Place of residence||Kraków, Dębniki, Zielna Street 34|
I was interned at the Auschwitz concentration camp as a Polish political prisoner number 7576 from the end of June 1942 until the liquidation of the camp, i.e. until 18 January 1945. Over that period, I was assigned to different working kommandos at the camp, starting with the Aussenkommando [external work detail], through the laundry, kitchen, the Entwesungskammer [disinfection room] and finally the Revierschreibstube [hospital office].
During my time at the Auschwitz camp, I had direct contact with the following SS women, whom I knew by sight and by their names and whom I also identified in the course of the presentation held at the Kraków Central Prison on 25 September 1947: Maria Mandl and Therese Brandl.
Maria Mandl, serving in the rank of Oberafseherin, fulfilled the functions of Oberaufseherin [overseer] and Lagerführerin [camp leader]. In that capacity, she was dreaded at the women’s camp – not only by female prisoners but also some SS men. Issuing particular orders and seeing that they would be carried out with diligence by Aufseherins under her command, she sought to cause distress to female prisoners every step of the way.
For the slightest supposed offenses she handed out harsh penalties, such as kneeling on gravel with bare knees and arms in the air, which were additionally encumbered with stones; whipping and shaving heads for a wrong type of parting in the hair, for an odd curly lock of hair, for smoking a cigarette etc. Mandl was also known for frisking prisoners, a task she either performed personally or supervised as it was carried out by Aufseherins under her command; finally, Mandl was known for filing reports to the political department, which typically resulted in sending people either to the penal company (SK, Strakompanie) or to the bunker.
In connection with my duties with the Revierschreibstube, I remember one inspection which Mandl carried out on Easter Sunday at the Schreibstube office, in the course of which she found peelings from raw potatoes, and for that, she beat, with her hand, prisoner Thila from a Slovak transport.
From the conversations held at the office, or even from Dr. Rhode, the Lagerartz [camp doctor], I know that Mandl often pressured him not to admit too many female prisoners to the hospital and to try and remove sick prisoners as soon as possible, regardless of their health. Indeed, there were a number of cases whereby female prisoners, who had been prematurely discharged, fainted and weakened after or in the course of delousing and were taken on stretchers back to the hospital, their condition very serious.
I also saw Mandl participate in selections of female prisoners to be gassed, which were carried out in the presence of camp authorities and camp doctor. I also saw Mandl at the general roll call in the winter of 1942/43, an event memorable for the entire women’s camp; I watched this roll call from a Schreibstube window, because I did not take part in the roll call myself, being a member the Revierschreibstube kommando. The said roll call lasted from early morning right up to the evening roll call and was held in a meadow outside the camp. The return to the camp was concurrent with the selection of female prisoners of all nationalities to be executed. The prisoners had to run through the gate to the camp along a row of SS men and Aufseherins, who on the orders from camp management, of which Mandl was also part of, pulled the prisoners with canes by their neck and took them to block 25, i.e. the death block. Let me add that the prisoners were dressed and they underwent selection not accompanied by any examination, nor were they declared sick, and the process was completely arbitrary. A couple of hundred prisoners were selected on that occasion.
I knew Therese Brandl from her time as head of Bekleidungskammer [clothing storeroom] and in that capacity she earned a reputation for being a ruthless person, who harassed female prisoners for no reason. In particular, she continuously refused to issue prisoners with underwear or clothing from the inventory, even if camp regulations allowed her to do otherwise. These actions saw female prisoners freeze in wintertime and sick prisoners lie naked at the camp hospital. She was also known for beating female prisoners, which I heard many times from my camp comrades.
At that the procedure and the report were concluded. The report was signed after it was read out.