On 13 September 1946 in Gliwice, Regional Investigative Judge Jan Sehn, a member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, at the spoken request and in the presence of a member of that Commission, Deputy Prosecutor Edward Pęchalski, pursuant to and in accordance with Article 4 of the Decree of 10 November 1945 (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland No. 51, item 293), in connection with Articles 254, 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, interviewed a former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, who testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Marian Kopta|
|Date and place of birth||8 December 1911, Kraków|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Place of residence||Gliwice, Opolska Street 1|
I was arrested by the Gestapo on 10 May 1940 in Kraków and after a five-day stay in the Montelupich prison, and then after a stay of several days in the Tarnów prison, I was taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp on 14 June 1940. I stayed there until I was evacuated to Oranienburg on 25 October 1944. My transport was the first transport to Auschwitz ever, and I was given prisoner number 308. In the camp, I was assigned to the Reinigerkommandtur where I stayed for the whole time. My job was to clean the offices at the headquarters. Therefore, I could walk around all the offices and see what was happening there. In particular, I met camp commandant Höß, who came to the office every day.
As for the situation in various camp work details and in the camp itself, I only heard about it from other prisoners, because I worked without a break from 5.00 a.m. till 8.00 p.m. in the headquarter buildings. I took advantage of the freedom of movement I had around the offices during office hours, so I often witnessed prisoners being tortured during interrogations in the Political Department. Interrogations were carried out by the following SS men: Boger, Grabner, Wosnitza, Dylewski, Lachmann, Witkowski, and others. Since prisoners rarely confessed to their charges, they were forced to do so by beating, by being hanged on the so-called swing and in other ways. After every such interrogation, the desks and walls were spattered with blood. If the interrogated prisoner fainted while being tortured, he was often taken into the corridor where he was brought round, and when he regained consciousness, he was taken back for interrogation and tortured. Sometimes commandant Höß himself was present at such interrogations.
Apart from the interrogations in the headquarter buildings, a special barrack built next to crematorium I was also used for this purpose. There were six rooms intended for interrogations in that barrack. Additionally, there were tools for torture: swings, special chains, whips, beating sticks, etc. In that barrack, SS men interrogated prisoners, or rather, people who had just arrived in Auschwitz to be judged. These people, who were not registered and did not take part in normal camp life, stayed – still in civilian clothes – in block 2, which was guarded by SS men from the Political Department. They waited there for their turn to be interrogated and subsequently judged.
Once, the Politische Abteilung sent me to block 2 to announce that one of the people waiting there should be brought for interrogation. This was in 1942. I saw then that both men and women awaiting interrogation lay on the bare ground and were watched by a special guard so that they would not move. There were about 200 of them. I also saw with my own eyes that the majority of the people, immediately after the interrogation, lay limp in the corridor due to the torture and beating. After the entire group was interrogated, they were judged by a court consisting of Gestapo officers. As a result of such “court proceedings”, the majority were sentenced to death, and it rarely happened that someone was registered in the camp.
I also saw Höß at public floggings. After the evening roll call, in the presence of all the gathered prisoners and the entire camp personnel, convicts were punished with flogging and received a given number of blows on their naked buttocks. Sometimes, after a prisoner was flogged, he was placed – beaten and with naked buttocks – in front of other prisoners for them to see how badly he had been beaten. Walking around the offices, I very often entered the so-called Funkstelle [radio center], where messages were sent to the central authorities in the Reich. Therefore, I know that all daily reports referring to the number of prisoners, as well as any changes caused by death, illness, arrival of new transports or departure of transports to other camps, after they passed through the Political Department, were made available to camp commander Höß, who signed them. I saw such reports with Höß’s signature in the Funkstelle, because from there they were sent every day to Oranienburg.
The report was read out. At this point, the interview of the witness and the present report were concluded.