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Nazi Dentist Testifies at Auschwitz Trial in Frankfurt

Jan. 24, 1964 - A dentist who supervised the smelting of gold teeth taken from people gassed at the Nazis’ Auschwitz concentration camp said today that the “inmates’ welfare was uppermost in my mind.” Testifying before a Frankfurt court that is trying 21 former members of the death camp’s guard and staff, the dentist, Dr. Willi Frank, said: “I never cursed a prisoner. I got along well with all of them. I tried to make their stay in Auschwitz as pleasant as possible.”

The indictment charges the 60-year-old dentist, who joined the Nazi party when Hitler took power in 1933, with having taken part in the selection of prisoners to be sent to the gas chambers and the supervision of the gassing. Although he denied both charges, Frank acknowledged that he had been present, “about 20 times,” at the ramp when trains brought new groups of prisoners. “As a rule, each dentist in the camp got a turn to substitute for a regular physician assigned to selection duty,” he said. “I had to be around, but I never picked people to be gassed.” In reply to a question, Frank said with a tone of pride: “In my department, all prisoners wore hand-tailored suits and were allowed to let their hair grow.” He did not mention that the “suits” were striped. “Were you inside a crematory?” he was asked. “Yes,” Frank replied, “but only to visit my [inmate] assistants who smelted the gold teeth into sheets. They were apprehensive that their turn had come to be gassed.”

Frank’s testimony brought to 11 the number of defendants who acknowledged that they had known of the gassing and murders at Auschwitz but denied any participation in the atrocities that took the lives of an estimated three to five million people, mostly Jews. Only two defendants have admitted that they took part in some of the killings; two others refused to testify.


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