The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 13
(Part 1 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No 13

8 Iyar 5721 (24 April 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the thirteenth Session of the trial open. Professor Baron will continue his testimony. You are still giving evidence under oath.

Attorney General: Professor Baron, at this morning's session, you gave us a description of Jewry before the Holocaust. Let us leave aside the story of the Holocaust for a moment, since we shall be hearing proof thereof in other ways. Please tell me, can you give us a description of this Jewish world, vital, full of life and creativity, as it was revealed after the surrender of Nazi Germany?

Witness Baron: Generally speaking, the impression we received in 1945 was one of total destruction, a much greater destruction than the extent to which Jewish communities were destroyed at any time in their history which is so full of destruction. Even in the days of the first Crusade or the Black Plague, there was no devastation as all-embracing as this and spread out over such a great and vast area as in the year 1945. For example, in Poland, in the country where there had been approximately 3,300,000 Jews before the Second World War, very few remained. According to the figures in our possession, and according to the census conducted by the Central Jewish Committee in Poland on 15 August 1945, only 73,955 Jews remained, of whom 13,000 were Polish soldiers and 5,446 were registered in ten displaced persons' camps in Germany and Austria. In other words, out of 3,000,000, possibly within a slightly larger territory, there remained a very small remnant of those who had survived.

The same held true for Germany, where between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews survived, or in Czechoslovakia, and other central European countries.

Possibly, the graver aspect was the fact that so few children remained. That is to say, of the element so vital for the future of the Jewish people, there now remained so few. We can say that in Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, where a census taken in 1930 showed that there were 117,551 Jews, there remained in October 1945 only 14,489 Jews, and of these only 1,179 were children aged 15 or younger,that is to say a very small percentage of approximately 8.5-8.6.

This was so terrible a situation that it was obvious that the Jews of Central Europe would not return to the condition of prosperity and growth which they had endured before the Holocaust.

The greatest tragedy lay especially in the fact that the destruction was the largest in those areas where the Jews were most creative and prosperous, namely in Germany, Poland and adjacent countries. Other countries in which the destruction was slightly less than this had not been so productive and so vital to the Jewish world as a whole, as were the very areas which were almost entirely emptied of their Jewish inhabitants.

If I may be permitted to quote a personal experience, I visited the town where I was born, Tarnow, in 1937 and again in 1958. In 1937 there was still a flourishing community of some 20,000 Jews, with all their outstanding institutions, a synagogue that had existed there for about 600 years, and so on. In 1958 I found about 20 Jews there, and only a few of them were natives of Tarnow. This was typical of a large number of towns throughout Poland and the neighboring countries.

According to the census I mentioned before, Jews were found in a total of 224 centres in Poland. Before the war there were more than 2,000 communities in that country - that is to say the vast majority of the communities had been completely wiped out - there were no Jews there at all, and those found in the 200 localities were obviously very few indeed. The destruction was therefore horrendous, and as I mentioned before, there had never been anything like it in the history of the Jewish people.

Q. That is to say, without precedent in the entire history of the Jewish people.

A. Unprecedented in the entire history of the Jewish people. For example, the Chmielnicki massacres in the middle of the seventeenth century, resulted in the destruction of not more than one-third of Polish Jewry only. The other countries scarcely suffered at all. In the days of the Crusades, communities were wiped out in Germany, Hungary and in Palestine, but in Spain and Italy, in the Balkan countries (except Constantinople), and possibly in North Africa and the other Asian countries, there was hardly any destruction at all. In other words, only a minute part of the Jewish people suffered destruction. Generally speaking this is true of all the disasters and all the suffering the Jewish people endured throughout the generations.

But this time the catastrophe was decisive for one third of the nation, and moreover in the most productive centres, and to such an extent that Jewish communities even outside Europe, whether in the United States or other countries of the American continent, or here in the Land of Israel, all these communities felt that they had been orphaned, left without their parents, that their parents had disappeared, that these fathers who, with their spirit, their culture and their religious faith and so on, had inspired all the Jewish communities. All these had now become bare of their substance. Perhaps it may be added that not only is the number small, but more so the quality had been greatly diminished. For actually the massacre of the more enlightened, of the spiritual leaders, was even greater than within the community in general. The communities established after the War had to begin almost afresh, and precisely without that great spiritual leadership they had previously possessed. Thus the destruction truly reached down to the very foundations.

Q. Professor, can you now give us your evaluation of the effect of the destruction upon European Jewry and World Jewry?

A. Yes, these effects continue to be felt to this very day, and there is no doubt that they will be felt for decades, perhaps for whole generations. In the ultimate assessment there were, according to our statistics, approximately 16,500,000, or possibly even more, Jews in the world in the year 1939. Today, at the most, there are 12,000,000. At the end of the Second World War, there were, apparently, only 10,500,000. That is to say, even today, sixteen years after the War, the number of surviving Jews is less by a quarter or more than what it was in 1939. In order to appreciate the significance of this destruction, it would suffice to compare it with nations defeated in the war, those who in fact were vanquished in the war, such as the Germans or the Japanese.

In Germany, when the War ceased, there were many destroyed cities, the nation was starving, everything seemed dark and gloomy. Nevertheless, today, sixteen years later, the populations of West and East Germany together have greatly increased. I do not now remember the latest figures, but there is certainly no doubt that their population has increased by about a quarter of the previous number of inhabitants. Japan, which experienced Nagasaki and Hiroshima, nevertheless now has about 90,000,000 inhabitants, that is to say about one-third more than in the year 1939.

At the same time, the Jewish people today numbers no more than about 12,000,000, as I stated. And one thing has to be borne in mind: if the natural increase of Jews had been that of the rate of the thirties, by more or less the same annual average of 120,000, then 22 years after 1939, they would have undoubtedly increased by more than 2,500,000, that is to say, there would have been more than 19,000,000. If the Jews had participated, as no doubt they would have participated, in the changes that came about in the forties and the fifties in the expansion of the world population, in that population explosion which I mentioned, the average annual increase would certainly have amounted to at least the 140,000 of the twenties and possibly even to 150,000 and 160,000, that is to say, the Jewish people would have now totalled about 20,000,000 souls or more. Instead of 20,000,000 there are 12,000,000.

Furthermore, in the fields of culture, religion, education, communal activities and organization, the destruction of European Jewry was felt, as I have already stated, in all the countries of the world.

If you will permit me, I would add something else. It is difficult to picture, it is hard for the imagination to conjure up what would have happened to the Jewish people if Hitler had arisen not in the thirties of the twentieth century, but - let us say - in the seventies of the nineteenth century. If it were possible to imagine this development and to conjecture what would have occurred if, instead of Bismarck being responsible in the political sense, for the Franco-German War in 1871, if in his place there had arisen a man like Hitler, another Hitler, and instead of conquering France he were to have conquered the entire area from the Atlantic Ocean to the Russian zone of occupation as Hitler had done, and if he had then exterminated the Jewish people as the new Hitler had done - the results then would have been unfathomable.

What would have remained of the Jewish people would have been so negligible that the genocide - as they afterwards termed it - would have been total. There would not have been a Jewish people in the world. In the United States, Canada, Britain and all the other countries, including Soviet Russia, the remnant of survivors would have been so infinitesimal that it would almost have been out of the question to re- establish the Jewish people. At present, of course, the conditions have changed for the better and there remains a surviving remnant - more than a surviving remnant - two- thirds of the nation were already beyond the areas under Hitler's control, and they were saved.

Attorney General: Professor Baron, would you be able to tell us something about the numbers of the victims of the Jewish people in the Holocaust?

Witness Baron: It is, of course, difficult to count the losses exactly; not merely because I myself am not a statistician, but, in general, we know that the Germans destroyed not only people but also the documents and the memoranda on which some sort of an estimate could have been based. But from everything I have examined and read, it seems to me that the figures which are contained in several sources are very close to the truth, namely about six million Jews. As we know, this figure was stated by the Nuremberg Tribunal. I also have with me the book by Gregory Frumkin, the well-known statistician of world affairs, who gives a general survey in his book Population Changes in Europe Since 1939. This book was printed in London in 1951, and also in New York. After he quotes certain figures for all countries, he reaches the conclusion that the number of Jews known to have been killed reached 4,372,000. Thereafter he adds:

"If the population of the territories ceded to the U.S.S.R. were included, it would probably be found that the total number of Jews murdered by the Germans amounted to some 5 millions, and if the U.S.S.R. territory occupied by the Germans during the war were likewise taken into account, the figure might easily be between 6 and 7 millions."
The same conclusion was also reached by the Anglo-American Commission of Enquiry which examined the Palestine problem and the question of Jewish refugees; it took into account approximately such a number. On page 58 they quote the total number of the Jews in Europe. They arrive at a figure of 9,946,000 Jews who were in Europe in the year 1939 and of 4,224,000 Jews who remained in 1946 - that is to say, a difference of roughly 5,724,000.

All the figures are, as I have pointed out, estimates, assumptions, because the documents ensuring an exact account are lacking. Even from my calculation, which I previously mentioned, to the effect that in 1939 there were 16,500,000 Jews in the world and that subsequently 10,500,000 survived, it emerges that about 6,000,000 Jews disappeared. And while there were other victims - not only the Jews who were killed by the Nazis - one must remember that children were born in other countries, such as, for example, the United States. According to accounts in our possession, in the United States there is an increase of 50,000-70,000 Jews every year in the United States in excess of those who die; in other words in the course of six years the Jewish community in the United States increased by 300,000-500,000 Jews. If we add all the figures together then, in my opinion, this usually accepted figure of 6,000,000 is practically certain - it may be slightly less, but it can also be greater than that, and might even reach 7,000,000. At all events such an extent of the Holocaust is enormous.

A question even much more important is: what in actual fact has remained, namely, what were the consequences of the Holocaust, as regards the whole world and as regards the Jews. As regards the Jews, as I have already said, a third of the nation no longer exists - instead of 20,000,000 or at least 19,000,000 there are only 12,000,000. And it was particularly the most creative countries that disappeared from amongst the centres of Jewish culture. This has, of course, basic spiritual and religious aspects. The influence on the Jewish people cannot easily vanish. Even in the times of the War people were asking the old question "Shall the righteous men suffer and the wicked men prosper?" Indeed, why had it to be the Jews of Poland and Lithuania where the righteous men of Israel were more numerous than the wicked. Why were they the ones to be annihilated and not others, why were they destroyed at all?

And if you will permit me I would quote to you from a particular sermon given during the Holocaust by Rabbi Kalman Kalmish Schapira, because this question still exists - it has not disappeared. He said in his sermon, in 1941 or 1942 recalling that when ten men were killed by order of an alien Government, the question arose whether the world would continue to exist. And he said: "Shall the world continue to exist and not be turned into chaos? When the ten martyrs* {*Heb. "asarah harugei malhut," name given to ten sages put to death by the Romans.} were killed, the angels cried out bitterly: 'Is this the Torah and is this the reward?' And a heavenly voice was heard, saying: 'If I should hear another voice, I shall turn the world into water.'

And now, innocent children, pure angels, even the great holy men of Israel are murdered and slaughtered only because they are Jews, they are greater than the angels, and the vast spaces of the world are filled with their cries of horror which could break down barriers of iron. And they cry out 'Is this the Torah and is this its reward?' And notwithstanding this the world did not overturn and remained as if nothing had happened..." And this question of 'Shall the righteous man suffer' continues to be asked by thinking Jews of every generation from that time on.

There has come down to us the legacy of the ghetto, the songs of the ghetto, the songs of the partisans, we have been left the preachings of Leo Baeck, the well-known scholar who survived after leaving the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, a legacy which obviously enriched the treasures of the Jewish people. But we still regard ourselves as orphans, whose parents were murdered.

From the point of view of the world as a whole, there is no doubt that there is a serious rift here. For the first time the Nazis introduced into the world a doctrine which was exceedingly dangerous, which constituted a threat to the entire world. If any nation is entitled to determine in regard to another nation, whichever it may be, that it is sub-human, and that it is possible to annihilate it, ill- treat it throughout the world, there would be no end to it. Any nation possessing arms would be able to attack another nation, weaker than itself, for it can simply say that it is sub-human. And, in the historical sense, these are things that can exist and this doctrine constitutes a danger not only to the Jews, but to the whole world.

There is also another matter: The Nazis introduced a new precept even into the hatred of Jews. In general they were really anti-intellectual - they did not accept at all that relationships between nations should be based on logical foundations. There were very strong irrational elements, but only on the Jewish question did they begin immediately with anti-Jewish research. They founded institutions, one after the other, to study the history of the Jews, the life of the Jews. And first of all - the Political Institute for the History of the New Germany -- Reichinstitut fuer Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands - in Berlin, and the Institute for Research into the Jewish Question - Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage - in Frankfurt. And they entrusted their spiritual leader, Alfred Rosenberg, to be the director of this Institute.

Everywhere they raided Jewish libraries, the Rothschild library and the library of the Alliance in Paris, and after a few years they amassed 350,000 books in order to prove in scientific fashion that the Jews were worthless. They continued this process, not only in Germany, where there were also other foundations and institutions of that kind, but when they conquered Poland, they established at Poznan a special Chair for the History of the Jews. In Paris, in France, there was a special Institute. And they even influenced the Italians to commence investigating the history of the Jews, of course in their pseudo-scientific manner, in Florence, in Bologna, Milan and elsewhere in order to collect anti-Jewish material.

I happen to know even of a special library collected by Streicher, the Streicher who generally speaking did not excel in intellectual accomplishments. And for his pornographic outpourings he had no need for documents. But nevertheless, he assembled 7,000 - 8,000 books in Hebrew, books of the Kabbalah etc. These are now in New York. He employed a number of so-called "experts" who extracted from these books - works of the Rabbis and others - documents for the purpose of denigrating Judaism and the Jews in general.

It seems to me that this heritage is gradually disappearing, as the world has been warned. I am glad to see that in the world there is actually an appreciation of the fact that genocide is a dangerous thing for the whole world and not only for the Jews. They should accordingly realize that they should not begin to study Jewish history in the non-scientific manner of those institutes which I mentioned, but that all this pseudo-scientific heritage should disappear from the world and in its stead should come pure scientific research based upon the truth.

Attorney General: Thank you, Professor Baron. And now, to conclude, here is a map. I would request to submit it and I would be grateful if you would assist us by showing the progress of the Nazi occupation in Europe according to dates. May I be permitted to hang up the map?

Presiding Judge: Yes, certainly.

Attorney General: Here before us is a map of Europe. Professor Baron, will you kindly trace for us the progress of the Nazi occupation according to dates?

Witness Baron: This is Germany which, from 1933 onwards, was under the rule of the Nazis. This was German territory [He points to the map.] In 1938, in March 1938, Austria was annexed to Germany when its armies invaded Austria during that month. In the same year, in September 1938, the armies of Germany occupied the Sudetenland. Thereafter, in 1939, in March 1939, they occupied Czechoslovakia and partitioned it. The main sections, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia became a Protectorate. The section of Slovakia became an independent state. Afterwards the War broke out on 1 September 1939 and the armies of Germany occupied Poland. However, in September of that year, 1939, the forces of Soviet Russia also entered East Poland. When Poland was partitioned, the western part was annexed to Germany proper; that is to say the regions which belonged to Germany before 1914 plus other areas such as Lodz, for example, which were added to them.

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