TO: Arthur Sinai, Deputy Director, OSI
FROM: George W. Garand, Historian
SUBJECT: HORN, Otto - Report of Interview
REF: OSI #42 - DEMJANJUK, Iwan
NOV 27 1979
On the morning of 14 November 1979 Norman Moscowitz, Staff Attorney, OSI, Bernard J. Dougherty, Jr., Criminal Investigator, and George W. Garand, Historian, OSI interviewed the German national Otto HORN at his residence located at 66 Yorkstrasse, West Berlin. This interview began shortly after 0900 and ended shortly before 1000. Mr. Dougherty and the undersigned translated during the interview which was conducted in German since HORN is conversant only in that language.
HORN is 76 years old and lives in a small one-bedroom apartment by himself. His place of residence was meticulously clean and despite his advanced years he conveys the impression of being stable with an excellent recall of events during the time he was stationed at Treblinka. Shown a sketch of the death camp at the beginning of the interview he identified various buildings within the camp without hesitation. He was assigned to the camp for approximately one year, from September 1942 to September 1943, and specifically to the upper part of the camp which housed the gas chambers. The old, smaller one remained in use until a larger new one went into operation in early 1943, at which time the old one was torn down. In connection with the layout and operation of the camp HORN mentioned that the installation was surrounded by guard towers manned by about 25 Ukrainian guards at varying shifts. In addition, these Ukrainians who were armed with rifles and wore some type of uniform the color of which the interviewee no longer remembered would await the arrival of trains at the unloading platform at which time the new arrivals were herded along a narrow walk to a shed where they were forced to take off their clothing. Thereupon, again following a narrow footpath which was fenced on both sides to block the view of the new arrivals from what was ahead, the victims were rushed to the gas chamber on the upper level. When the chamber was full the doors were slammed shut and a German named SCHMIDT or SCHMITT would supervise the actual gassing. Two Ukrainians worked directly under Schmidt. One of these operated the machinery that funneled the lethal gas into the chamber while the other supervised the inmate work detail that removed the bodies from the chamber and dumped them into two very large pits that had been dug nearby. While the Ukrainians at the train unloading platform rotated between there and the guard towers the two Ukrainians assigned to the gas chamber itself were invariably present at each gassing. He no longer recalled the name of the Ukrainian responsible for overseeing the removal of the bodies, but had a good recall of the one responsible for operating the death machinery. That man's first name was Iwan, a tall heavy set individual approximately in his mid-twenties at the time with shortly cropped hair and full facial features. He never knew Iwan's family name since such names were in any case very difficult to pronounce and the Ukrainians were invariably addressed only by their first names. Iwan took great pride in his position as assistant to SCHMIDT and felt that this status placed him a few rungs above the other Ukrainians who act merely as guards. Iwan would appear on the scene only after a trainload of victims had arrived and would leave the premises as soon as he had accomplished his assigned task., [sic] leaving the removal of bodies to the second Ukrainian and his crew. HORN commented that he never did trust the Ukrainians who spent most of their time carousing in the nearby Polish villages from where they would return drunk late at night, shouting and carrying on and firing their weapons. In contrast to the other Ukrainians who were without exception armed with rifles, IWAN was armed with a pistol of unknown make. He was never observed as making use of this weapon.
HORN's opinion of the Ukrainians was generally unfavorable. Not only did they fall asleep at their assigned guard posts, but they also tended to show disrespect towards the lower ranking Germans assigned to the camp. At the same time he questioned their political reliability, since later in the war, during 1943, a number of them deserted to the Russian partisans. In one instance, when the Treblinka camp was closed down in late 1943 and the Ukrainians were being transferred to Sobibor, escorted by a German officer, the Ukrainians murdered their escort and joined the partisans.
Initially shown a series of eight photographs of Caucasion [sic] males, HORN carefully viewed each photograph that depicted an individual wearing dark clothing. Each one of the photographs showed a frontal view of the individual down to a few inches below the neck. Hair styles of these individuals varies, as did length of hair, physical stature and age that varied from the low twenties into the forties. One of the photographs depicted IWAN DEMJANJUK as he appeared in the early 1940s. After studying each of the photographs a length HORN initially could not make positive identification of any of the individuals though on one or two occasions he felt that one or two of the individuals shown looked vaguely familiar to him, though he could not recall where and under what circumstances he had met them. At this point the first group of photographs was gathered up and placed on one end of the table with the one depicting DEMJANJUK left facing upward on top of the pile. Mr. Dougherty thereupon presented a second series of eight photographs to the interviewee, each showing a second group of male Caucasians clothed in what would normally be considered closer to civilian attire than the clothing worn by most members of the first group. One of the photographs in the second group was that of IWAN DEMJANJUK, taken in the early 1950s and depicted DEMJANJUK with a fuller and more rounded face and a more receding hairline. HORN studied this photograph intensively and then, looking at the earlier photograph of DEMJANJUK, identified that individual on both. Nevertheless, he noted some minor differences, such as IWAN having had somewhat more hair at the time he knew him.
Towards the conclusion of the interview HORN expressed his willingness to be re-interviewed more formally provided there was no publicity. Throughout the interview HORN displayed an alert mind and with regard to the events at Treblinka during the period he was assigned there, his recall is excellent. All questions put to him were answered in a forthright mannner and in the mind of the undersigned there is no doubt as to the man's honesty and integrity. It would appear that this man, at age 76, has had ample time to take stock of his life, and in the opinion of the undersigned, helping our investigation is one way in which in the twilight of his life this man is trying to make amends for the things that happened at Treblinka and elsewhere during World War II.
|15 November 1979||