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Former Auschwitz Guard Claims Ignorance of Gassings

Jan. 9, 1964 - A former assistant to the commander of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, testified today that he was unaware that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill people. “I had no idea that Auschwitz was an extermination camp. I never saw gas chambers,” Robert Mulka, a former S.S. lieutenant, told a Frankfurt court trying 22 former camp guards. Mr. Mulka, 68 years old, who went into the export business after he was cleared during denazification proceedings, also denied he ever participated in selecting people to be gassed. “That’s a downright lie,” the defendant told the court.

Describing his duties as adjutant to camp commander Rudolf Höss, a post he held for 10 months, the Hamburg businessman said he looked after the guards’ welfare and the camp economy. In reply to a series of questions, he said: “I never set foot in the camp where the prisoners were being held. The presence of children was unknown to me. I never participated in ‘rabbit hunts.’” The latter were incidents in which inmates were shot by the score. The gray-haired defendant, who is free on bail, conceded that he had “suspected that terrible things” were happening in the camp.

Prosecutors in the Auschwitz trial have charged that Mr. Mulka played a major role in the transformation of Auschwitz from a concentration camp into an extermination complex in 1942; in the planning and construction of the four Birkenau crematoria and gas chamber complexes; and the selection of arriving transports of Jews for extermination.


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