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Murder & Intrigue


AUSCHWITZ: Inside The Nazi State
Murder & Intrigue: Episode 5

By 1944, 550,000 people had already been murdered here at Auschwitz. But now, during just a few weeks in spring and early summer, that figure was to increase by over 300,000. 4 years after it first opened, a period of frenzied killing was to begin at Auschwitz unlike anything the camp had yet seen.

But the history of Auschwitz in 1944 is not just one of murder. There is also intrigue. For this was also the year that the Nazis sent unlikely messengers to neutral territory—to try to sow seeds of confusion among the Allies.

Subtitles: Do you understand comrades, what this is about? Things are getting hot for the Germans. They can see the writing on the wall. They want to negotiate.

And as the Allies learnt more about Auschwitz, the pressure on them grew - what were they going to do about it? This is the story of Auschwitz, the Nazis and the Allies in 1944—one of death, deceit and mystery.


The vast majority of those who were murdered at Auschwitz in 1944 came from one place—Hungary. In March 1944, German troops entered Budapest. For the Nazis, this was a rich country, ripe for plunder. And though already allied to the Nazis, the Hungarians had been unreliable partners as far as Hitler was concerned. Not least in their refusal to deport the 760,000 Hungarian Jews.

Shortly after they were established in Budapest, the SS called a Hungarian named Joel Brandt, one of the most politically active members of the Jewish community, in for a meeting. On the 25th April 1944, he went to see SS Lt Col Adolf Eichmann. We know what was said from Brandt's subsequent interrogation by British intelligence, as well as his post war testimony. Eichmann, infamous for organising the mass murder of the Jews, was about to make a surprising proposal to Brandt.

Subtitles: I am prepared to sell 1 million Jews to you. Who do you want? Men and women who can produce children? Old people? Babies? Sit down and tell me, Herr Lieutenant Colonel. You ask me who should live and who should die. I can't do that. I don't want to lose any of my people. I can't sell you all the Jews of Europe. But I can let 1 million go. We are interested in goods not money. Travel abroad and liaise with your international authorities and the Allies and then come back with a concrete offer.

Peretz Révész, The Committee for Help & Rescue, Hungary: "We tried to understand what was going on. It was possible that the Germans were just bluffing us. But we couldn't understand why."

But events elsewhere cast doubt on the Nazis' genuine desire to sell the Hungarian Jews, because this man, SS Lt. Col. Rudolf Höss, was returning to Auschwitz. Höss had been removed as the original Commandant of Auschwitz the previous November, promoted to a job in Berlin but now he'd been ordered to return to the camp to oversee the murder of the Hungarian Jews. At the Auschwitz main camp, Höss—a committed Nazi -held planning meetings with his senior staff.

\Excerpt from Höss post-war biography: "Auschwitz became the greatest human extermination centre of all time. The reasons behind the extermination program seemed to me to be right. There's nothing new in anti-Semitism - it's always existed all over the world. It's only come into the limelight where the Jews have pushed themselves forward too much in their quest for power."

Fuelled partly by these prejudices, Höss prepared for the arrival of the Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2 miles away from Auschwitz main camp. He oversaw the completion of a railway line allowing new arrivals to be brought directly into Birkenau.

Birkenau, part concentration camp, part extermination centre, had been the site of mass murder at Auschwitz since 1942. Here not just Jews but Polish Political prisoners and others the Nazis thought a threat to their rule were imprisoned. Crucial to the operation of Birkenau were 4 crematoria with gas chambers attached, where those selected to die were murdered and burnt.

Stanislaw Hantz, Polish Political Prisoner, Auschwitz: "What can't be shown, especially in Birkenau, is above all the stench of burning bodies. It spread a long way - kilometres from the camp. It wasn't just that the fire burnt for one day, went out and that was it. It burnt for months on end. Whether it rained or not, whether it snowed or not, the fire burned all the time."

Höss and his SS colleagues now anticipated that so many people were about to be murdered here the crematoria ovens simply would not cope, so huge cremation pits were prepared. One prominent visitor to Auschwitz during May 1941 was none other than Adolf Eichmann. Höss knew him well.

Excerpt from Höss post-war Biography: "Eichmann was completely obsessed with his mission and also convinced that this extermination action was necessary in order to preserve the German people in the future from the destructive intentions of the Jews."

Eliezer Einsenschmidt, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "Eichmann's visit I remember. His whole appearance. All the SS people had the same expression—they were always furious-looking, to show how important they were, to show they were important people."

Yet at the same time as organizing the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, Eichmann allowed Brandt to leave Hungary on the 17th of May 1944. His task: to see if the Allies would exchange 10,000 trucks for 1 million Jews. There was considerable urgency to Brandt's mission, because in Hungary the deportations were already underway. A task now performed with the essential co-operation of the Hungarian authorities. In the small town of Sárvár, close to the border with Austria, Alice Lok Cahana, her elder sister Edith, and the rest of their family prepared to leave.

Alice Lok Cahana, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "The scene of going out of Egypt came to my mind and we saw the cattle trains I told my sister this is a mistake, they have cattle trains here, they don't mean we should go in cattle trains. So we found ourselves in the cattle train they're closing the door on us and they're leaving a bucket for sanitary use and a bucket for water and I told Edith I would never use sanitary use bucket in front of these people no matter what happens and the 2 of us went to the corner of the cattle train."

Joel Brandt arrived at Istanbul in neutral Turkey, on the 19th of May. He met representatives of various groups with links to the Jewish leadership in Palestine, at the Pera Palace Hotel.

Subtitles: Do you understand comrades, what this is about? Things are getting hot for the Germans. They can see the writing on the wall. They want to negotiate. I don't understand why nobody from the leadership in Jerusalem is here. It's a matter of days, of hours Eichmann isn't waiting. Every day 12,000 are crammed onto trains. We must cable Jerusalem immediately and insist on somebody coming here, who name is known in the world - Chaim Weizmann or Moshe Shertok. Yoel, you can't cable these things We never know if our cables arrive on time and if they are not garbled. We have a messenger.There is a train going the day after tomorrow. This will take too long. Why not by plane, ideally tonight? Don't think it's so easy, Yoel. We don't get a plane.

Whilst Brandt encountered the first difficulties with his mission, the Hungarian Jews were arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a general rule the taking of photographs was prohibited at Auschwitz, but one member of the SS did record the arrival of this Hungarian transport. No one knows just why these pictures were taken, but they constitute the most valuable visual record in existence of what happened here. The Nazis wanted to see who could work as forced labor and who could not. The first part of this selection process was to separate the women and children from the men, and then to choose from within each group who should die at once.

Alice Lok Cahana: "When we arrived, I told Edith nothing can be so bad like this cattle train. I'm sure they will want us to work and for the children they will give better food. So they're saying right now the children should separate and go in another hut, group. Go line up with the children."

Alice, who arrived at Auschwitz with her family on a similar transport to this, had decided to stand with the mothers and children. She could not have picked a more dangerous spot.

Alice Lok Cahana: "I went to that group with the children and I was very tall for my age and suddenly the German soldier asked me 'Haben Sie Kinder?' - 'Do you have children?' I said 'No, I am just 15', in German, and then he put me to another group."

That moment saved her life. Alice was taken from the group with mothers and children, all of whom were selected for immediate murder, and was placed with fit and healthy young women who were chosen as slave labor. The moment of selection captured in these photographs, took only seconds. It was a procedure every new Jewish arrival endured.

Morris Venezia, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "A couple of Germans were separating us—when he was looking at the old people he put to the right and the young people to the left. So this is where they separate us. The right lane they took them right away to the gas chamber."

Dario Gabbai, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "My family was done already was down to the crematoria there, they perished right away you know, when they take direct to the crematoria after a couple of hours you don't exist anymore."

On average, 75% of the people on each transport from Hungary were selected to be murdered straight away. As the transports continued to Auschwitz, Joel Brandt traveled to Aleppo in Syria and on the 11th of June 1944 met with a representative of the Jewish Agency. Also present was a Major from British counter intelligence, who recorded the conversation. Brandt was about to hear bad news.

Subtitles: What happens if you do not return to Budapest? Then, comrade Shertok all the Jews in Hungary will be murdered. After 2 months there will be no more left of us than of the Warsaw Ghetto. Dear Joel, I now have to tell you something painful. You cannot go back to Budapest. The British request that you go to Cairo. Does this mean the British keep me as a prisoner? Do you know what you are doing? This is simply murder. If I don't return our people will be slaughtered. My wife, my mother, my children will be the first. I have come here as an envoy. But not as an envoy of the enemy. For me the Germans are the enemy. Just like the Allies. I am here as the envoy of 1 million people who are sentenced to death. Their lives depend on my return. Who gives you the right to arrest me? What have I done to England?

The British believed they knew why the Nazis now proposed a deal. The Germans were losing the war. The Red Army was marching on the Reich. And the Nazis said the trucks they wanted in exchange for Jews would be used only on the Eastern Front, in the war against the Soviet Union. Heinrich Himmler of the SS, who was behind the Brandt mission, wanted to split the Allies. On May the 31st 1944, at the Foreign Office in London, the Brandt proposals were considered by a Committee of the War Cabinet. Their conclusion was that the idea of exchanging trucks for Jews was 'blackmail' and should be rejected.

But during the discussion there was another, less idealistic reason suggested to refuse the Nazis' offer. Which was that to accept it might 'lead to an offer to unload an even greater number of Jews on our hands.' Shortly after the British decision, the Americans and Soviets also agreed that there should be no negotiations with the Nazis.

Peretz Révész, The Committee for Help & Rescue, Hungary: "The Germans kept repeating that the Jews are almighty, that the Jews rule the world. They kept saying America and England do whatever Jews ask, but we could see that that wasn't true."

Meanwhile, the Allies did not communicate their rejection of the Brandt mission to the Nazis here in Budapest. So, Brandt's wife, Hansi, together with Rudolph Kasztner, another Jewish activist, was able to plead repeatedly with Adolf Eichmann for a gesture that would show the Nazis were prepared to negotiate with the Allies. Both Rudolph Kasztner and Hansi Brandt later testified as to how the meetings went.

Subtitles: Why Herr Lt. Col. Do you not spare the children at least? We could ensure that they are looked after by us. You have to understand - I have to clear the Jewish crap out of the provinces. No arguments or tears will help! You probably do not have any children and that is why you have no pity on them. You are taking a great liberty Mrs. Brandt. If you speak to me like that I advise you to stop coming to see me.

Eichmann was not prepared to spare one person's life as a result of humanitarian pleas. But he and his SS colleagues were prepared to listen to another argument. They announced that one train full of Jews could leave Budapest for a safe destination, as a so-called gesture of good faith. The price per seat on the train: 1,000 US dollars. On the 30th of June 1944, a train containing 1,684 Hungarian Jews pulled out of Budapest station. A special committee, on which Rudolph Kasztner sat, had decided the final passenger list.

Eva Speter, Passenger on Kasztner train: "The Kasztner list was compiled on purpose like a Noah, Noah's Ark. Everybody and everything should be represented this will be the only part of Jews. Of Europe who remain alive there should be a representative portion."

But this was a strange Noah's Ark. Massively over-represented on the train were Kasztner's own relatives and people from his home town of Kolozsvar. And places were also given to several hundred rich Hungarian Jews who subsidized anyone on the train who couldn't pay.

Eva Speter: "If you have to save your life you'll try it in every way, even in a criminal way if it comes to that, but you have to save it, your life is the first you are nearest to yourself whatever people try to say. When they were in the train we were afraid, we never knew what will be our future."

Eichmann had promised that the train would travel to neutral Switzerland, but it didn't. At Linz, in Austria, the train stopped and Jews on board were told to get out and take a shower.

Eva Speter: "I was standing naked before the doctor and looking very proud into his eyes and ah, thought he should see how a Jewish woman is going, how a proud Jewish is going to die, because most of us knew that in Auschwitz from the taps there didn't come any water but gas. And ah, from the taps came fine warm water, afterwards we dressed up and returned to our train. It was a very relieving experience after we were ready to die there."

The train traveled on to Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany where those on board stayed for up to six months before the Nazis finally allowed almost all of them to travel to neutral Switzerland. The 1600 Jews who had left on the Kasztner train in June represented less than half of 1% of the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz. The Spring and early Summer of 1944 was to be the most notorious period in the history of the camp. The 4 crematoria with gas chambers were struggling to cope with the numbers the Nazis wanted to kill.

Two of them lay here in the western part of the Birkenau complex, with the gas chambers above ground. Two more were positioned close to the railway line that took new arrivals into the heart of Birkenau. These had the gas chambers in the basement. The Nazis had hugely increased the number of Jewish prisoners in the Sonderkommando they made work in the crematoria in order to deal with the massive numbers they wished to murder. So much so that a crematorium and gas chamber like this was operated by around 100 Jews and just 4 Germans. The torment endured by the Sonderkommando, forced, on pain of their own immediate death, to assist in the killing process, is one of the most shocking parts of the history of Auschwitz.

Morris Venezia, Jewish Sondercommando, Auschwitz: "When people was in that gas chamber you could hear some kind of a voice calling "God". It looked like those voice coming from kind of a catacombs which I still got the kind of voice I've still got in my ears"

These wire columns contained the Zyklon B gas pellets which were lowered in from above by the Nazis. And while it was always the Nazis themselves who committed this act of murder, it was the prisoners of the Sonderkommando who had to perform the horrendous task of collecting the bodies, taking them out and up a small lift to burn either in the ovens of the crematorium, or increasingly in the open air.

Dario Gabbai, Jewish Sondercommando, Auschwitz: "When the big you know transport from ah, Hungary came in then they were daily you know, they wanted to finish them fast, that's why they had the pits to go through."

This photograph, which a Sonderkommando risked his life to take, shows bodies lying by the open cremation pits at the height of the Hungarian action.

Morris Venezia: "Everyday they were burning dead bodies everyday, everyday, everyday. You get used to it. We know it, if we wondered that, we had a bullet in our head. It was like a robot."

On occasion, when killing small numbers of prisoners, the gas chambers were not used and the Sonderkommando were forced to be stand just inches away from the murders.

Dario Gabbai: "We had to take them they bring 1 by 1 we take them by the ears and behind him was an SS shoot him in the back and the guy would come down with a lot of blood was some of us there with the water putting down. After a while you don't know nothing, nothing, nothing bothers you. That's why your conscience you know gets inside of you and stays there until today you know, somebody else is in inside of me that tells me from time to time you get awake what happened why we did such a thing."

By now the Allies knew about this place and its role as an extermination camp.

Gradually, from early 1944 onwards, the level of knowledge about what was happening here had been increasing amongst the Allies, thanks to the escape of a handful of Auschwitz prisoners and the work of the Polish resistance. This culminated in a document which drew together the available intelligence and which came to be known as the 'Auschwitz Protocols'. It included sketches showing the position of the major crematoria and gas chambers at Birkenau.

As a result, from June 1944 Jewish organizations asked that the railway lines to Auschwitz and the gas chambers of the camp be bombed, requests which reached the American government only a few weeks after the landings on the D Day beaches.

Assistant Secretary of State John Mc Cloy rejected the requests saying the bombing was "impractical" and would lead to 'diversion of considerable air support' that was essential elsewhere. A clue as to the strength of McCloy's opposition to the bombing requests comes from this inter-office memo, where his own assistant Colonel Gerhardt writes "I know you told me to 'kill' this…"

In Britain, requests to bomb Auschwitz were once again referred to the Americans, and so the idea died. But the Americans went on in August 1944 to bomb the IG Farben factory being built at Monowitz just four miles from Birkenau.

Libuša Breder, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "Ah, we heard the aeroplanes coming and we wanted them to put the bombs on the camp at least we could run and hundreds and hundreds of planes were coming and we are looking up and no bombs. So this we could not understand. So absolutely god forgot us and people of the war forgot us, didn't care about what's going on and they knew what's going on there."

On a bombing run on 25 August the Americans accidentally took this picture of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Whether or not, of course, it would have ever been possible to destroy with a precision attack the crematoria and gas chambers, clearly visible here, and whether that would have made the Nazis stop committing murder at Auschwitz, is one of the great unanswered questions of history.

What is certain is that back in Budapest the protests about the deportations made by several foreign governments—including the British and Americans—did have an effect. The pressure reached a peak in early July when the Hungarians intercepted cables demanding those involved be punished. The Hungarian Prime Minister, Döme Sztojay and Edmund Veesenmayer, Hitler's representative in Hungary, met to discuss the intercepts. We know what was said from a detailed report Veesenmayer sent the next day to Berlin.

Subtitles: And then we have a telegram. With the names of 70 Hungarian and German persons—who are considered to be mainly responsible for the deportations. Right, there is my name. And yours as well, of course. I personally don't care about these threats.

But such protests and threats from the international community did influence the Hungarian head of State, Admiral Horthy. With the war clearly going against the Nazis he decided that the time had come to distance himself from his erstwhile ally. Horthy informed the Germans on the 7th July that the deportations of the Jews must cease. The Hungarian authorities would no longer co-operate.

After the official halt of the Hungarian transports, the Nazis at Auschwitz focused greater attention on inmates who had been imprisoned here at Birkenau for some time—the Gypsies. They lived in family groups in some of the worse conditions in the camp.

Franz Rosenbach, Gypsy prisoner, Auschwitz: "The atmosphere was terrible, because many of the small children and people in the blocks were ill, and everyone was mixed up together. The children were screaming: 'Mum I'm hungry, give me something to eat or something to drink. But they weren't allowed to drink the water because of the risk of catching typhus."

Franz Rosenbach survived only because he was eventually transferred elsewhere as slave labour. But his mother died at Auschwitz along with 21,000 of the 23,000 gypsies sent there.

Franz Rosenbach: "You see there were moments, moments which one really prefers not to think about. Such moments. The things that were done to us left you wondering why. We were beaten, kicked, degraded, but you didn't know why. You had no idea why. Simply because we were different."

Under Nazi rule the Gypsies who were to proportionately suffer more than any other group apart from the Jews. The Nazis considered them anti-social, despised their way of life, and thought them racially dangerous. On the evening of the 2nd of August 1944, the Nazis moved to liquidate the Gypsy camp. It was to be one of the most appalling single nights in the history of Auschwitz.

Alice Lok Cahana: "The Gypsy camp was very close to our barrack and we could hear it and the night was unbelievable. Full of screaming and crying and smoke and horrendous sounds. They took the Gypsies and the Gypsies were crying they knew where they are taking them."

Wladyslaw Szmyt: "Everybody defended themselves, defended themselves to the last. They bit, they scratched. The Germans had driven in trucks. They threw the children in them, and if one of them jumped out, they would hit him on the leg or the arm with a wooden club, break it and throw him back in, so that he couldn't jump out again, couldn't get out because his limb was just hanging there. When I saw this, I started yelling… And people grabbed me - Poles - as they were afraid that the Germans would come and throw a hand grenade in or something. They rolled me in a blanket to keep me quiet and sat with me."

The Gypsies were taken to the crematoria, many here to crematorium 5—and killed within its network of gas chambers. By the autumn of 1944, after the Gypsies had been murdered here, and the massive transports of Jews from Hungary and then the Lodz ghetto in Poland had ceased, the number of people killed at Auschwitz dropped to fewer to 1,000 a day from a peak of 10,000 in May. The Sonderkommando who worked in these gas chambers now began to fear for their own lives.

Dario Gabbai, Jewish Sondercommando, Auschwitz: "They were changing us. You know, we knew that our days were always numbered and we didn't know when the end would be."

Here in crematorium 4 at around 1.30 pm on Saturday, the 7th of October 1944, the Sonderkommando fought back. They set fire to the crematorium and armed with pickaxes and rocks they attacked their SS guards. Meantime the Sondercommando in crematorium 2 also rose up. After a few minutes of hand to hand fighting with the SS some Sondercommando managed to escape into the nearby woods, but all of them were later captured and shot. And the SS even sought revenge against those Sondercommando who had not taken part in the revolt.

Henryk Mandelbaum, Jewish Sondercommando, Auschwitz: "They didn't know what to do with us. So they had a kind of discussion and then they told us to lie face down on the ground holding our hands behind our backs and every 3rd person was shot. Some of my friends in the Sondercommando lost their lives and the rest had to go back to work. There was never much hope for us. I'm telling it like it is."

Dario Gabbai: "They didn't kill us because there were 4,000 cadavers that had to go into the ovens and we are the only ones that could do it and that's why they save us. But after that day they took most of us they left only 92 of us all the others they took and they killed them all around."

The same month as the Sondercommando revolt, there was a coup in Hungary. On the 15th of October 1944, Horthy's non-compliant regime was overthrown by the Nazi backed Arrow Cross militia. Eichmann immediately called Rudolph Kasztner in for a meeting. Kasztner later wrote a report about what was discussed.

Subtitles: Well, Doctor as you can see I'm back! Now listen well. This new government works on our instructions. So the Jews of Budapest are going to be deported after all. And this time on foot.

The Jews of Budapest, who had up to now largely escaped deportation, were now Eichmann's target. They were not to be sent to Auschwitz, but to Austria, where they would be used as slave labor. And because of the shortage of trains, they were to walk there. So during November tens of thousands of Jews from Budapest were forced out of the city and made to trek west. Many thousands died en route. But Eichmann incurred the displeasure of senior figures of the SS, concerned, in the light of how badly the war was going for them, that so much potential forced labor was being squandered. And so Himmler summoned Eichmann to a special meeting in December 1944 on his private train. Another SS Officer, Lt Col Becher, who also worked in Hungary, was present as well. After the war Becher testified as to what was said.

Subtitles: If until now you have exterminated Jews from now on, if I order you as I do now you must be a fosterer of Jews. I must remind you that it was I who set up the Head Office of Reich Security and not Muller or yourself, and that I am in command. If you can't do that, you must tell me so.

Himmler knew the German Army was struggling to hold back the Allies, and by January 1945 the SS here at Auschwitz were also well aware that the end was near. All reference to this place as a site of mass murder was to be eliminated.

Eva Mozes Kor, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "We woke up in the middle of the night with the sound of explosion, they were blowing up the gas chambers, the crematorium Outside the SS were waiting for us and ordered us to march, anybody who could not march fast enough was shot on the spot. We arrived in Auschwitz 1 which is about an hour walk at 1am. The Nazis again disappeared as if the earth swallowed them up."

Eva Mozes Kor, and twelve hundred other prisoners thought too weak to evacuate from the area, were now left for a few days to fend for themselves at Auschwitz main camp. Most of the guards had gone - but another SS unit had been ordered to come to the camp and shoot them. No prisoners were supposed to be left alive to testify to just what had happened here. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 other inmates of Auschwitz, thought fit enough to become slave laborers, were marched in sub zero temperatures railway junctions, where they were to be put on trains and sent West.

Ibi Mann, Jewish Prisoner, Auschwitz: "If anyone even dared to bend down to get muddy snow off their shoes they were shot; that was the end. We weren't allowed to bend over we could only walk quickly, quickly, quickly. On both sides of the roads there were ditches, big ditches and the ditches were full of bodies."

Also on the march amidst the chaos of this retreat were prisoners who had never thought they could possibly leave the camp alive—the Sonderkommando.

Dario Gabbai: "We survived that because the Russians were coming from Krakow and down and the Germans had got panicky and every place we went the Germans 1 by 1 when asking us if you work in the Sondercommando we were shot."

Once they reached the railhead, the Auschwitz prisoners were crammed into open wagons to continue the journey west, in temperatures that could reach as low as minus 20 degrees.

Morris Venezia: "Oh, the wagon was very packed, one guy was up and he was German he told us he was German who knows maybe a convict who knows and he wanted to sit down he couldn't stand no more this guy. So he told me I've got some cigarettes would you let me sit down, when I have cigarette you know ah, when I have some cigarettes so he gave me 2-3 cigarettes, I got up and he sit. So the cigarettes in 5-10 minutes were gone, I told him get up. Get up. Stand up. He wouldn't stand up.

So what I did was, me and a couple of my friends would sit on him and about 30 minutes, 1 hour, he was suffocated that guy and was thrown out of the wagon. I was happy. How did I feel? They killed all my family about 30, 40 people of my family and I killed 1 German, that was nothing."

Interviewer: "It was a murder, wasn't it? You did murder a fellow prisoner?"

Morris Venezia: "I was happy at the time, I told you, because he was a German. I wouldn't do that to, I wouldn't do that to one of, of ours, but anyway I wanted to be seated too over there, because I got tired too. Why should he live, because he gave me 2, 3 cigarettes? That's why he didn't wanna get up, so we sit on him and he passed away. Easy."

The Germans who were actually complicit in the murders at Auschwitz knew they were even more at risk from retribution as the war neared its end. Members of the SS, like Rudolf Höss, the former Commandant of Auschwitz, now tried to escape capture. And the story of Höss and his colleagues' attempt to evade justice and the Allied attempt to prosecute them is one of the most troubling in this entire history.