Signed statement by Dora Almaleh, prepared for British War Crimes Tribunal, 13 June 1945 (WO 239/19)
IN THE MATTER OF WAR CRIMES
ATTROCITIES AT BELSEN
DEPOSITION OF DORA ALMALEH (Female) late of 19B Othos Peve Ganna, Salonika, Greece, sworn before Major SAVILE GEOFFREY CHAMPION, Royal Artillery, Legal Staff, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.
1. I am 21 years of age and because I am a Jewess I was arrested on 1st April 1942 and taken to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where I remained until I was transferred to Belsen in November 1944.
2. I recognize No. 2 on photograph 22 as an S.S. woman at Belsen. I knew here by the name of HILDE and I have now been told that her full name is HILDE LISIEWITZ. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was one of a working party detailed to carry vegetables from the store to the kitchen by means of a hand card. In charge of this working party was LISIEWITZ. Whilst I was on this job I allowed two male prisoners, whose names I do not know, to take two turnips off the cart. LISIEWITZ saw me do this and she pushed the men, who were very weak to the ground and then beat them on their heads with a thick stick which she always carried. She then stamped on their chests in the region of the heart with her jack-boots. The men lay still clutching the turnips. LISIEWITZ then got hold of me and shook me until I started to cry. She the said ‘Don’t cry or I’ll kill you too’. She then went away and after 15 minutes I went up to the men and touched them to see if they were still alive. I formed the opinion that they were dead. I felt their hearts and could feel nothing. They were cold to the touch like dead men. I then went away leaving the bodies lying there and I do not know what happened to them.
3. I recognize No. 1 on photograph No. 5 as an S.S. man at Belsen who was in charge of the bread store. I have now been told that his name is KARL EGERSDORF. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was working in the vegetable store when I saw a Hungarian girl, whose name I do not know, come out of the bread store nearby carrying a loaf of bread. At this moment EGERSDORF appeared in the street and at a distance of about 6 meters from the girl shouted ‘What are you doing here?’. The girl replied ‘I am hungry’ and then started to run away. EGERSDORF immediately pulled out his pistol and shot the girl. She fell down and lay still bleeding from the back of the head where the bullet had penetrated. EGERSDORF then went away and a few minutes later I went and looked at the girl. I am sure she was dead and men who were passing by looked at her and were of the same opinion. The bullet had entered in the centre of the back of the head.
I do not know what happened to her body.
SWORN BY THE SAID DEPONENT DORA ALMALEH AT BELSEN THIS 13TH DAY OF JUNE 1945, BEFORE ME
S.G. Champion [Signed]
I HEREBY CERTIFY that, the said Deponent not understanding English, this Affidavit was translated in my presence to the said Deponent before swearing and I am satisfied that its contents were fully understood by the said Deponent.
Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. S.G.Champion[signed] Major R.A. I HEREBY CERTIFY that I have accurately translated this Affidavit to the said Deponent. Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. [signed] It appears to be a matter for medical evidence as to whether it is possible for a human body to have lost its warmth by death within 15 minutes, even where the man was in a weak state and had been savagely assaulted.
Major R.A.« Return to Belsen concentration camp 1945
4. Read Source 4. This is a witness statement from one of the prisoners at Belsen.
- What had Hilde Lisiewitz done?
- What had Karl Egersdorf done?
- Look at the photographs in Source 5. Do the people you are looking at seem capable of the actions you have read about?
- Kramer and some of the SS Guards were put on trial for war crimes by the British. Kramer’s defence was that he was only following orders. Some guards said the same. Do you think this is an acceptable defence?
- Kramer and several guards were executed. Hilde Lisiewitz was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and Karl Egersdorf was acquitted and released. Do you agree with these punishments?
- Many guards escaped and lived quietly for many years. Do you think it is right to arrest and try former concentration camp guards 40 or 50 years after the events described here?