The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 15
(Part 5 of 6)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Can you estimate the number?

A. I don't remember any more. One year 35,000* {* This is evidently a gross overestimate. The official Jewish Agency Statistics for 1935 reports 7,447 immigrants for Germany}. Jews from Germany reached the country. That was in 1935. It was the peak of the immigration from Germany. But after the beginning of the Arab riots the number declined. The overall British policy with regard to immigration, to aliyah (immigration to Palestine), changed. This was connected with the disturbances.

Q. What was the number of certificates in 1938 and 1939?

A. It was very small. I have to count it in tens. But we resorted to other means, to circumvention, with the help of Captain Foley.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Cohn, you have completed your evidence.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I ask to call Witness Aharon Lindenstrauss. Your Honour, I propose to deal with a chapter which I shall be able to conclude almost certainly by 6 o'clock, rather than start on the documents. I may have to ask the Court to go back in time temporarily when we get to the submission of the documents.

Presiding Judge: The documents that were discussed this morning?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No. Documents about which the witnesses do not know, from the files of official authorities.

Presiding Judge: Never mind.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: Your first name?

Witness: Aharon Lindenstrauss.

State Attorney Bar-Or: You were born in Berlin, Germany?

Witness Lindenstrauss: Yes.

Q. What year were you born?

A. In 1904.

Q. You studied Law?

A. Law, Economics and Banking.

Q. At which university?

A. At Berlin University.

Q. What profession did you practice?

A. In 1932 I became an advocate in Berlin and before that I worked in several banks. I had also been a Werkstudent (a working student). In 1932 I became an advocate and I worked in that capacity until 1933, until my licence was revoked in the summer of 1933.

Q. This was about June 1933?

A. I am not certain. The licence was revoked between April and June 1933.

Q. What did you do then?

A. Since I was a Zionist from childhood and had always belonged to the Zionist Organization, I already worked in the Palestine Office in Berlin, Meinekestrasse, since January 1933.

Q. What number?

A. Number 10.

Q. What was your specific field of work?

A. I was in charge of the Aliyah Department of the Palestine Office in Berlin from 1933 till 1939.

Q. When did you leave Germany?

A. I left Germany on 1 March 1939.

Q. Since then you have been in this country?

A. Since then have I been in this country.

Q. What do you do now?

A. I manage an industrial bank in Haifa and am also a member of the Haifa Municipal Council.

Q. Tell me please, Mr. Lindenstrauss, do you remember an official journey you made from Berlin to Vienna in 1939 before you left Germany? Kindly tell the Court all the details you know and remember.

A. Yes. This was after the pogrom in Berlin in 1938. In October 1938, I had been on a visit to Palestine in my official capacity in connection with negotiations with the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem and I returned two or three days before the pogrom. On that day I went straight to the Palestine office in Berlin on Meinekestrasse. There I found the whole building wrecked, typewriters in the courtyard and chaos all over. The only room that was left intact was mine because I had gone to Palestine and repairs were being made in the room while I was away. We assembled all the officials in the building, the Head of the Zionist Organization, Benno Cohn, and all the other officials from the Keren Hayessod, the Jewish National Fund and the Juedische Rundschau. All the officials gathered in my room. Benno Cohn advised me to give a report on what was going on in Palestine - in order to reduce the tension. In the meantime various messengers came from outside and reported that in one place a synagogue was burning, in another a department store and somewhere else a shop. We realized there was a danger that the building in Meinekestrasse 10 would be attacked and we dispersed and gathered again in private homes belonging to some of the senior officials.

Meanwhile the validity of a great number of certificates was about to expire in December 1938, mainly Palestine immigration certificates for parents and there was a danger that they would not be able to make use of them. We therefore applied to the Gestapo and pointed out that this could hold up the emigration. I still remember that one day I met with two SS officers in front of the house in Meinekestrasse 10 and they brought with them all the keys from the Kristallnacht (night of the broken glass) when everything there was turned upside down.

Q. Did you know these officers?

A. Not personally. They were holding a large envelope which contained hundreds of keys to all the offices in the building. I asked the housekeeper to go with the two SS officers and look for the room where the certificates expiring in December 1938 were kept. After a long search they found the room. They opened it and we could continue the preparation of the Aliyah of these parents, who reached Palestine in December 1938.

After this, the situation of Aliyah from Germany became quite hopeless; there were no certificates and of course this influenced the mood among the Jews in Germany. For one thing there was great pressure such as there had never been. I remember that in the "British Passport Office" in Berlin, Captain Foley's office, hundreds of people were queuing up for visas to Palestine, but it was not always possible to help although this man tried to help as much as he could.

At the end of January, I don't remember the exact date - it must have been the end of January or the middle of February - we suddenly received a telephone call at the Palestine Office, I think it was from the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden saying that the Accused had instructed a delegation from all Jewish institutions in Berlin to come to Vienna immediately. We went the same day, four or five of us, I don't remember exactly.

Q. Do you remember any of the names?

A. Yes.

Q. Which names do you remember?

A. I remember that the Head of the Jewish Community in Berlin, Heinrich Stahl, went; Seide went, he died later in the camp, I think; also the legal adviser of the Jewish Community, Advocate Kotzover, who was also head of the postal service in the camp and was later killed with his whole family; there was also the head of the Reich Representation of German Jewry, Dr. Franz Meier and myself as representative of the Palestine Office in Berlin.

Q. You went to Vienna?

A. We went to Vienna. Yes.

Q. Describe what happened.

A. When we arrived in Vienna we were received immediately. We were given rooms in some hotel under the control of the Vienna Gestapo, who saw to it that we did not come in contact with the public in Vienna.

Q. Did you know that contact between you and the Jews of Vienna was forbidden?

A. We were told nothing about that. We arrived, we were met, we were taken to some hotel - I have forgotten the name. There were Gestapo people there who assigned specific rooms to us and specific waiters.

Q. Who met you at the railway station when you arrived in Vienna?

A. I cannot tell you.

Q. But you were met?

A. Yes.

Q. And taken to the hotel?

A. We went to the hotel and the next day, or the same day, we went to the headquarters of the Accused, to the Rothschild Palais.

Q. Where was that? Do you remember the name of the street?

A. I think it was Prinz Eugen, I don't remember, at any rate, it was the well-known Rothschild Palais, that is where the headquarters of the Accused were.

Q. The members of the delegation arrived at the Palais together?

A. Yes. We went together and entered the gate. Two SS men were standing next to it, very unpleasant types in steel helmets. They phoned upstairs immediately, apparently to the room of the Accused and announced, as I remember exactly, that four persons had arrived. They said it differently: "Vier Stueck aus Berlin sind angekommen" (Four pieces have arrived from Berlin).

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