The following is the text of the sworn statement of Dr. Clifford C. Byrum, Captain of the Medical Corps of the US Army on June 8th 1945 about what he found in the investigation of the deaths of the babies at the Volkswagen-run "kinderheim" in Ruhen, Germany during the war.
SWORN STATEMENT OF DR. CLIFFORD C. BYRUM
I Clifford C. Byrum, Captain, Medical Corps, United States Army, 0-441364, 658th Clearing Company, APO 339, having been duly sworn, make the following statement on my oath:
I am a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and am professionally qualified to render opinions on medical practices.
On 4 June 1945, I accompanied 1st Lt. George Haney of the War Crimes Branch, Headquarters, 9th U.S. Army, to Ruhen, Germany, to assist in the investigation of the alleged deaths of 300-350 Polish and Russian infants from malnutrition and systematic neglect at an institution in Ruhen.
Sister Hilda Lammerer, a registered German nurse was questioned in my presence by Lt. Raney. She stated that she had been employed in the day nursery established by the Volks Wagon factory for Russian and Polish infants in Ruhen. She indicated that sanitary conditions were extremely appalling, that the death rate among the infants was extremely high and that the medical officials in charge were unconcerned and markedly delinquent in rendering proper medical care to both the ill and well babies. She expressed the opinion that medical neglect was in a large measure responsible for many of the deaths, and indicated that no effort was made to control the deaths or to determine the exact cause of the deaths. She stated that Dr. Korbel who attended the nursery came only once a week and spent approximately 30 minutes in the nursery. She did not remember ever seeing the doctor thoroughly examine any one of the babies. She states that no attempt was made to isolate ill babies, however the formulaes were prepared in a manner acceptable to medical authorities of Germany and that all the water, instruments, and utensils were thoroughly boiled. Sister Hilda intimated that the responsible nursing party was a Sister Ella Schmidt. She stated that Sister Schmidt would not cooperate with the Russian or Polish mothers and that she was not concerned with the welfare of either the mothers or the babies. Sister Schmidt insisted that the routine continue regardless of the number of deaths resulting. This nurse left the town prior to its capture by American Troops. Sister Hilda was in charge of the older babies, while a Russian girl was put with the newly born babies. Sister Hilda stated that the infants which died, uniformly exemplified the same symptoms and signs. The babies had distended abdomens with bluish discoloration and marked dehydration was present in every case. Subcutaneous salt solutions ranging from 5 to 10 cc were administered to many of the babies and last minute stimulants y hypoxdermic methods had also been administered. The bodies of the babies were put in the toilet, stacked one on top of the other and wrapped with the minimum amount of toilet tissue.
The undertaker was questioned by Lt. Haney and revealed that he had buried haphazardly between 300-350 babies over a period of nine months in the nearby cemetery. He stated that three to six or more babies were put in each grave with no attempt of identification of the individual graves. He stated that the bodies showed marked distention of the abdomens with bluish discoloration and that the extremities were malnourished.
Examination of The death certificates revealed that the majority of the cases were diagnosed as feebleness, which is not considered a medical diagnosis. The investigating party proceeded to the cemetery where several of the graves were exhumed. The first grave to be exhumed showed 3 babies in a box. Decomposition of the bodies was well under way, however, there was evidence of distention of the abdomen and wasted muscular tissue. The babies apparently had been buried without a box and dug up and put in a box, for the babies were covered with dirt. The second grave to be exhumed showed five moderately decomposed bodies in a paste board box. There were distention of the abdomens of the more preserved of this group.
Two other graves were exhumed but due to the marked decomposition, the babies were not removed from the ground. It was clearly evident that more than two bodies were in each of the graves.
The investigating party proceeded to the nursery where an inspection was made and several of the personnel questioned. The building would not meet medical standards for a nursery. There was evidence of recent cleaning of the building. A Russian girl named Tanya who had attended the newly born infants was questioned and it was revealed that she was with the babies during the day and witnessed the making of their formulas. She stated that without exception, all of the newly born infants which were taken from their mother, died. The babies had marked vomiting, diarrhea, and later developed distended abdomens, and dehydration, resulting in death. She stated that the babies were not fed from 1900 to 0400 the following day, and that no one but German personnel were allowed with them at that time. She showed the material which was fed to the babies, and apparently it was the same type of food fed to the German babies who thrived on the formula. She further stated that many of the babies had skin diseases and that the babies went for hours without being washed and diapers changed. She further stated that many of the mothers were not allowed to see their babies frequently and that the mothers made frequent attempts to get their babies from the nursery but were severely threatened. She stated that the overseer of the nursery and the doctors were fully aware of the situation.
Based upon the evidence presented during the course of the investigation, iis my considered medical opinion that there was marked medical neglect which could easily have been the cause of many of the deaths. The sanitary conditions, time interval of the babies formulaes, the nursing care, isolation, medical supervision and control were below the most minimum standards of the medical profession. However even with the evidence of extreme neglect and malnutrition, it is extremely doubtful that this would result in a 100% death rate. This fact leads me to suspect the possibility of a systematic method of causing death of these children.
Subscribed and sworn to before me on this 8th day of June, 1945, at Gifhorn, Germany.
George J. Haney, 1st Lt.