Jan. 16, 1964 - A former Nazi guard confessed in a Frankfurt court today that he took part in the gassing of Jewish inmates and shot four or five Soviet commissars in the Auschwitz death camp. “Today I am ashamed that I then considered the liquidations and murders as necessary and inevitable,” Hans Stark, 42-year-old ex-sergeant of the SS Elite Guard, said. Stark was the first of the 22 defendants in the trial of former Auschwitz staff members to admit having a direct part in the killings at the wartime death camp. Several million persons, most of them Jews, were murdered there under Hitler’s extermination program.
Visibly agitated, Stark said in October of 1942 he took part in gassing about 200 men and women in the basement of the Auschwitz crematorium. “For 10 to 15 minutes after the gas was dropped, they continued to scream horribly,” he said. “When the gas chamber was opened later, the corpses were piled up. One glimpse was enough for me. I said to myself: ‘never again.’” Stark said this was the only gassing in which he a personal part. “Didn’t you think that these gassings were gross injustice?” the presiding judge asked. “No, definitely not,” Stark replied. “At that time, I thought this was necessary.” He said he was then under the influence of Nazi indoctrination which held that the extermination of all Jews was vital for Germany’s future. Stark said that despite these convictions, he was reluctant to obey the order assigning him to drop the lethal cyanide gas. “When I hesitated, Commander Höss said: ‘If you do not go along, you will be put into the gas chamber too.’ At that, I went off to help insert the gas.” Auschwitz Commander Rudolf Höss was hanged in Poland in 1947.
Stark said he fired fatal shots in one execution. He said after he watched several Soviet commissars being shot in the neck by other SS guards, he was told: “Now it’s your turn, Stark.” “I took a carbine and shot the Russians. Their faces were turned toward a black wall,” he testified.