Anton Pacholegg: Another obvious liar from Dachau
Anton Pacholegg is another witness who gave testimony at Dachau shortly after liberation. His testimony is particularly interesting as not only does it give very weak and unconvincing details regarding human skin leather, hypothermia experiments and air pressure experiments, but he gives a radically different description over the fall of Rascher. This he attributes as resulting from “negligience” and poor science results presented to the Luftwaffe, and his wife being arrested for embezzlement. There is no doubt that Pacholegg was very close and trusted by Rascher, according to Wolfram Sievers before the Nuremberg Tribunal he accompanied Rascher to Voralberg (the part of Austria adjacent to Switzerland) and there escaped. This escape is confirmed by Sievers official diary the was entered into evidence. According to the testimony here, Pacholegg voluntarily returned to Dachau and spent the rest of the war in the “dungeon” because he felt sorry for Rascher. A rather extraordinary act if true. The original capture of Pacholegg bears curious similarities to the Venlo Incident, all in all we are left with the impression that Pacholegg was probably involved with some kind of resistance or espionage, which he is careful to obscure as he proceeds with his shocked witness of medical atrocities act.
It does seem curious that with the whole panoply of liberated prisoners of Dachau available that the American Army seem to pick out characters that carry such little conviction to be their star witnesses.
PS2428 page 291 to 298
Testimony of Anton Pacholegg at Dachau, Germany, at 13:00 hours on 13 May 1945.
Tec 5 James Lundy, 32355293, Hq 6th Army Gp, appeared as a reporter and was sworn by him in the following form: “You swear that you will faithfully perform the duties or reporter in this investigation now being conducted by me, so help you God.”
Pvt Erwin Boesch, 42054817, Hq Seventh Army, appeared as an interpreter and was sworn by the Investigator-Examiner in the following form: “You swear that you will truly interpreter in this investigation now being conducted by me, so help me God.”
Mr. ANTON PACHOLEGG appeared before the Investigator-Examiner and testified as follows:
Q. What is your name? A. ANTON PACHOLEGG.
Q. What is your address? A. Thurndorferstr #52, Frauenfeld/Turgan, Switzerland.
Q. We are making an investigation of the alleged atrocities committed by the SS at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Are you willing to be sworn and testify under oath as to what you know of these alleged atrocities at the Dachau Camp? A. Yes.
Q. Please stand up, raise your right hand, and be sworn. “Do you, ANTON PACHOLEGG, swear that the evidence you shall give in this investigation now being conducted by me, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” A. I do.
Q. Is the address you have given above your permanent address? A. Yes.
Q. What is your nationality? A. I am an Austrian.
Q. What was your occupation or profession? A. I was a patent lawyer.
Q. What has been your education? A. I studied at the University of Gretz from 1912 to 1914 and the University of Paris from 1924 – 1926 having been in the Austrian Army in the interim.
Q. What degree do you hold? A. Doctor of Science which authorizes as to practice as a lawyer in Switzerland.
Q. How did you come to be in the Dachau Concentration Camp on 2 August 1939? A. At the request of my business agent in Austria I met him at the Swiss Frontier to discuss personal matters. I was arrested by the Gestapo. I am of the conviction that this meeting was a ruse arranged by the Gestapo in cooperation with my business agent in order to effect my arrest. I actually came to Dachau at the end of the year 1942 and have been here ever since.
Q. Have you been here as a prisoner since that time? A. Yes.
Q. Why were you kept as a prisoner? A. I was kept as a prisoner under suspicion of having been in connection with English secret service organization. The Gestapo could not produce any evidence for this accusation. I was also accused of having dealing with Jewish people and also for violation of Reich Monetary Restrictions.
Q. What was you job in Camp, if any? A. In the 1st year from 1942 to 1943 I spent my time in the punishment company doing different manual labor such as sweeping the streets or in conjunction with seven other men pulling the street roller, digging in the gravel pit and then I managed somehow to be transferred into Station No. 5 which is the office of the Experimental Station. I received a job as a clerk in cases concerning patents of that station.
Q. What sort of Experimental Station was this? A. The sole purpose of this experimental station was to compile lists of all German education installations and to get them completely listed and classified in our office so that the SS with this information could sue further means of their own to get German educational and scientific education completely under SS control.
Q. What was the name of this Experimental Station and was it located in Dachau? A. Yes it was located in Dachau and was called the First Experimental Station of the Luftwaffe and then only “Experimental Station” and in 1944 changed to Heritage. They were all cover up names for the true purpose of what was actually accomplished here in an experimental way. I want to add that in the beginning of March 1945 teh name again was changed to “Experimental Station” experimenting on living humans for the benefit of mankind.
Q. What was your function in this experimental station? A. I was a clerk.
Q. In light of your being at this investigation what would you say of interest in this proceeding as to what you know of this experimental station? A. First I want to talk about experiments about air pressure in connection with the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe delivered here at the Concentration Camp at Dachau a cabinet constructed of wood and metal measuring one meter square and two meters high. It was possible in this cabinet to either decrease or increase the air pressure. You could observe through a little window the reaction of the subject inside the chamber. The purpose of these experiments in the cabinet was to test human energy and the subject’s capacity and ability to take large amounts of pure oxygen and then to test his reaction to a gradual decrease of oxygen – almost approaching infinity. This amounted to a vacuum chamber in what had been a pressure chamber at the beginning of the experiment. Such prisoners were chosen for these experiments upon written request which was sent to Berlin. Suggested names of prisoners in this camp were sent and authorization was received here in camp. Then the experiment was begun. Dr. Sigmund RASCHER actually picked the physical subjects and sent the name to Berlin. He chose those persons from the group in camp within the punishment company, which group was made up of political prisoners who had already been marked for extermination. A few convicts were among these political prisoners, having been placed there merely to depress the morals of the political prisoners and, so, a few convicts were killed along with the others.
Q. What do you know of the so-called “Rascher Process?” A. The process so-called is more or less a slang time. It was simply a method of testing a person’s ability to withstand extreme air pressure. Some experiments would have no visual physical effect on a person but would only be indicated by meter recordings. There were extremes, however, in these experiments. I have personally seen through the observation window of the chamber when a prisoner inside would stand a vacuum until his lungs ruptured. Some experiments gave men such pressure in their heads that they would go mad and pull out their hair in an effort to relieve the pressure. They would tear their heads and face with their fingers and nails in an attempt to maim themselves in their madness. They would beat the walls with their hands and head and scream in an effort to relieve pressure on their eardrums. These cases of extremes of vacuum generally ended in the death of the subject. An extreme experiment was so certain to result in death that in many instances the chamber was used for routine execution purposes rather than an experiment. I have known RASCHER’s experiments to subject a prisoner to vacuum conditions or extreme pressure conditions or combinations of both for as long as thirty minutes. The experiments were generally classified into two groups, one known as the living experiments and the other simply as the X experiment which was a way of saying execution experiment.
Q. Did Dr. RASCHER have any assistant that you remember in this work? A. Yes, there was a prisoner by the name of WALTER NEFF who was the doctor’s constant aid. He was discharged from Dachau on 5 April 1944 to accept an appointment in Munich in the office of “Reichsführer SS Personal Staff’,” which was the bureau in charge of our experiments in this vicinity.
Q. What was the average daily toll from this experiment? A. I counted daily from one to as many as sixteen bodies left from a day’s work. I would say the weekly average was about twenty. These experiments were conducted until September 1943 beginning in 1941.
Q. Was Dr. RASCHER in charge of this work for this whole period? A. Yes. RASCHER told me that he had been put on this work by HIMMLER personally and he was there until it was abandoned. I forgot to mention that in the early part of the work in 1942 Russian civilians, prisoners of war and Jews of all nationalities were used. Particular attention was paid in being sure that the man was a Russian commissar or some sort of intellectual.
Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add about this experiment? A. Yes. I can never forget the way RASCHER acted. RASCHER used to go for the prisoners personally and would bring them in at pistol point. He would casually shoot any who tried to make a break or any who did not move fast enough. Once herded into the room he would sneer and tell them that they had fifteen minutes to live and he would relax the prohibition of no smoking among prisoners and that they could have a smoke. The most disgusting part was that when the prisoners lined up, RASCHER would go along and make what he called a leather inspection. He would grab a man by the buttocks and/or thighs and say “good.” After the group had been killed, the skin from these bodies would be removed from these thighs and buttocks. I was in the office many times when human skin with blood still on it was brought into RASCHER. After the bodies had been carted away, RASCHER would inspect them carefully, holding them up to the light for flaws, and would pass on them before they were tanned. They were always stretched over small wooden frames when they came to RASCHER. I saw the finished leather later made into a handbag that Mrs. RASCHER was carrying. Most of it went for driving gloves for the SS officers of the camp.
Q. Was this so-called “Doctor” a doctor of medicine or science? A. He was a doctor of medicine, I do know that. He was about thirty-four years of age. I have been told that RASCHER was killed by the SS before the Americans got here but I have no proof of that.
Q. Were there any other experiments conducted other than those you have mentioned? A. Yes.
[….line illegible but about cold water experiments….]
with the help, of course, of the personal assistant NEFF. The test was to determine the degree of cold temperature that a human being could stand and still have his faculties. This was for the Luftwaffe also. As well as determining what a man could stand the experiment would usually go on until that man passed out completely. Then there was an experiment to find a way to revive a prisoner who had so collapsed.
Q. Where were these experiments performed? A. They were performed in the outdoors during the winter time. It was always at night as a rule because the weather was coldest at that time. Men would be put outdoors naked, lying in metal carts from two to twelve hours depending upon the individual’s constitution. Some fainted sooner than others. Examinations or written tests were made constantly to record pulses, temperatures and general physical reactions. When a man fainted he was wrapped in a life preserver and thrown into a tank of water at room temperature. He was kept there until he revived or until he was pronounced dead. In addition to this, there was the testing of the hear, blood count, respiratory system, etc. Another experiment conducted with these half-frozen, unconscious people was to take a man and throw him boiling water of varying temperatures and take readings on his physical reactions from extreme cold to extreme heat. The victims came out looking like lobsters. Some lived but most of them died. Scientifically, I cannot understand how they lived. Still another method was to revive a half-frozen man by the warmth of another body. For this test healthy, normal women were brought from Ravensbruck and two women would be undressed and the half-frozen body of a prisoner placed between the two warm, nude bodies of the women. The three bodies were kept this way until the warmth of the women’s bodies revived a man, or until he was declared dead.
Q. Who was present at such an experiment? A. HEINRICH HIMMLER and his staff generally witnessed these important experiments here at Dachau or any new experiment. Standartenführer SIEVERS was always present with HIMMLER.
Q. Were there any other personnel involved in these things? A. Yes, Dr. BUNZCNGRUBER, a civilian employee and the station’s capo JAUK. There was another civilian employee FEIX, who together with Dr. BUNZCNGRUBER had been prisoners at this camp before coming civilian employees.
Q. Where are these people now, if you know? A. Civilian employee FEIX and former prisoner NEFF, assistant to Dr. RASCHER, are now employed at a government owned plant for the manufacture of a hemostatic remedies to stop blood flow. This plat is located between the town of Lindau and Briggins in Baden. I do not know where the others are.
Q. What were the other tests, if any? A. There was one to test flight clothing for the Luftwaffe. The victim for this were dressed in various types of flight suits with life jackets and were thrown into vats of water, too deep for a man to stand in and the rim of which was too high to grab onto so that a man would have to remain as he was thrown. His hands were always chained together. The water was the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean or of the North Sea in middle winter. This temperature was important to the experiment. The victim would be left floating for about four hours, or sooner if he fainted, but he would not be removed until the heart beat went down to a certain minimum. After that tests for revivals would be made. I would like to state that on all these experiments, pictures, both still and moving, were taken. Charts and graphs were drawn and all sent to Berlin. At the headquarters of the Luftwaffe and upon decision by the experts of the Luftwaffe all the aforementioned experiments were declared scientifically worthless with the result that Dr. RASCHER was fired from his position and reduced to the rank of SS Hauptsturmführer.
Q. Was this in punishment or a feeling of humanitarianism? A. It was deemed punishment for inefficiency and inexperience and a waste of time when he did so much without knowing first what he was doing.
Q. What else did RASCHER do? A. Next Dr. RASCHER, in his capacity of SS Hauptsturmführer, conducted experiments to find a remedy to stop bleeding from all causes. He would extract about an eighth of a liter of blood from a prisoner who previously had to swallow certain tablets for the single purpose of causing blood to coagulate in case of an open wound. They would then examine this blood and check the time of coagulation from the time it was extracted. Another experiment as told to me by NEFF personally was done in the following manner. The prisoner would be taken into the gas chamber at the new crematorium and extremities of the body amputated without the use of anaesthetics, i.e., living bodies were used to simulate battle field condition wounds and shell fire wounds. The coagulation tests were being conducted during this time. Dr. RASCHER conducted this experiment and would later dictate his findings for the official report.
Q. Were there any other things of this nature that went on? A. I remember in particular any report I made out almost always ended with the remark “Experiment successful but the patient died.” This may sound like a joke as I have heard it before but I have never had to write it before and realize it was true.
Q. Are there any more experiments you remember which you can give names of personnel conducting them? A. [….] I would like to talk about what I know of the dungeon here. I was thrown into the dungeon after having [???????????]. The circumstances of my [arrest???] were that in RASCHER’s absence I cleaned out his safe and took all signed receipts of sale for gloves and pocketbooks that RASCHER had sold, i.e., gloves and pocketbooks made from human skin. There were other documents also which I can’t remember now. My English friend in camp who has since been killed made a contact for me on the outside. When I left camp I met this intermediary from the British and handed him all these compromising documents. This person took them on to Switzerland. I do not know where he is now nor where the documents are. I came back under guard and thought I would be killed but RASCHER saved my life. RASCHER was in trouble charged with negligence and he thought I could save him. He in turn said he had burned the documetns in question and I was merely thrown into the dungeon where I remained for nine months in chains. RAUSCHER was convicted of negligence and many other things and was later dismissed from the service and I understand has since been killed by the SS, for what he knew. RASCHER’s wife was convicted for embezzlement and imprisoned. I gave RASCHER 5,000 marks to keep frombeing killed even before this came up. I had money on the outside. RASCHER had told us when I gave him the 5,000 marks that the SS was afraid something would go wrong in Germany and that the American Invasion might be successful and if it was every prisoner would be killed.
Q. Who was in charge of the dungeon? A. Sturmführer STILLER [sp?]. I don’t remember the name of his assistant. Most of the punishment I received in the dungeon was inflicted by an SS man from Munich who came from the Gestapo to question me. I don’t know their names and in all the time I was there I can hardly remember all the things they did to me, nor can I remember the names. It was the usual beatings, sometimes for long periods standing in chains, and questions that tortured my mind. They could torture your mind as well as your body. They would take me out of the cell for interrogation and, when in answering a question in a proper manner, they would beat me to their great satisfaction with their fists and hit me on either side of the face causing me to reel across the room and faint. They would take a pail of water and throw it over me for revival. One day I was taken out of my cell for interrogation very early in the morning and it seems they were in a bad humor because upon entering the room one of the SD Gestapo men took a wet towel, wrapped it loosely around my neck and dragged me all over the room until I lost consciousness. When I woke up again I found myself completely soaked from a drenching of water and then I was taken back to my cell without any interrogation taking place. Once during my stay in the bunker, one of these lager cells, I was able to observe Oberscharführer BACH with a few other SS men walk up to a cell and, opening the little trap door, fire point blank at the prisoner in that cell. It was customary among prisoners in the bunkers to refer to these shootings another “Schutzenfest” – this means shooting party.
Q. Can you remember any other names of SS or other personnel who treated you cruelly or abused you in the camp or any of the other prisoners? A. None that I have not already mentioned. I will think of these things in years to come and names and faces will come to me but right now I have given the ones I can remember.
Q. Is there anything else you wish to say about personalities you met here in camp? A. Yes, in January 1944 I was taken to Berlin by RASCHER after we had finished writing up some of the experiments. In Berlin I was kept by RASCHER in case he needed me toe xpalin the results of his work but RASCHER himself took the reports in and reported to Obergruppenführer Dr. CONTI, one of the SS who I understand was one of the directors if not the supreme leader of the medical department of the SS. He knew all about the experiments and these reports were given to him constantly. HEINRICH HIMMLER, CONTI, SS Obergruppenführer Dr. ERNST KALTENBRUNNER of Berlin, were in direction connection with our experimental station, knowing everything that went on and ordered what happened. RASCHER was just a petty crook in a high position and the only reason I am alive is that RASCHER had to have me with him. RASCHER took his orders from those men I have just named and these men are the real ones I would like to get for what we had to see at Dachau. That is all I have to say.
Testimony adjourned at 1600 hours on 13 May 1945.
Attested David Chavez Jr.
Colonel J.A.G.D. Investigator-Examiner
[page 8/ page 298 of file]