The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 21
(Part 3 of 9)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Where did you relieve yourselves?

A. Everything inside this hall.

Q. In front of each other, women and children and men together?

A. Yes, together. We were inside the train for several days. They closed the door. The windows were already shut, and also secured with barbed wire. Towards noon the train moved. We could notice through the aperture in the windows that the train was travelling in the direction of Przemysl - after that in the direction of Yaroslav. We knew that they were exterminating the Jews of the surroundings in the camp at Belzec. We decided that if the train turned to the right in the direction of Rawaruska, we would try to burst out of the train.

Q. To the right was in the direction of Belzec?

A. Yes.

Q. And left?

A. In the direction of Cracow. We still had only a spark of hope that perhaps they were transferring us to Plaszow that was a labour camp near Cracow.

Presiding Judge: All this was known to you?

Witness Gurfein: Yes. But they announced, day and night, that they needed the trains for their victory. We couldn't understand that nevertheless they found the time to transport the Jews for extermination all the time and to use trains for them. On every train there was an inscription: "Raeder muessen rollen fuer den Sieg" (Wheels must roll for the sake of victory).

Attorney General: At that time you didn't believe that the programme was to destroy the Jewish people?

Witness Gurfein: No.

Q. Despite the fact that you had heard reports from Belzec?

A. We received reports, but the spark of hope, nevertheless, still flickered in our hearts and we hoped that, perhaps, despite this, some miracle would occur. They kept promising day and night that they were stopping the deportations, the exterminations. But in view of the fact that the train turned in the direction of Rawaruska, we managed to force the window open and several of the people in the train jumped out. Each time a person jumped out, we heard shots. On each waggon there was an SS man with a machine gun. At approximately 2 o'clock in the morning - this was beyond Yaroslav - my mother pushed me from the waggon and told me to jump. I jumped from the waggon.

Q. How old were you?

A. Twenty-one. I left behind, inside, my mother and my brother. I hid in the snow. They halted the train and began to shoot in my direction. I crossed to the other side of the track and dug myself into the snow; I remained in the snow for two hours until I heard the train moving.

Q. Did you see your mother after this?

A. I didn't see my mother after this, nor any members of my family.

Q. How many hours were you in that horse waggon?

A. I was in that waggon from Friday morning until 2 o'clock the next morning.

Q. Did they give you any food there?

A. They gave us neither food nor drink. They didn't even allow us to bring snow into the waggon. We wanted to quench our thirst with snow; even this they forbade, and they shot into the waggon ahead of us because someone had brought a little snow into it.

Q. So where could you relieve yourselves?

A. In the corner of this waggon.

Q. There were women and children there?

A. There were women and children and old people together.

Q. Before this operation, could you tell us something about the plunder of Jewish property?

A. Yes. Immediately after the occupation of Sanok in September 1939, the Jews were ordered to bring to the Gestapo building every object of value in their possession under threat of the death penalty - gold, diamonds, foreign currency. Naturally the Jews gave them up. In the winter of 1941, the Gestapo gave orders, through the Judenrat to bring in furs and also - for those who had them - skis. These were needed for the German army. There were cases where people simply forgot to bring a glove or a piece of fur. The Germans subsequently conducted searches, took these people and brought them to Auschwitz. About one month later they found in the possession of a certain Jew, a piece of fur - they killed him on the spot.

Before the general deportation, they ordered the Jews to close up their homes, to leave everything in an orderly fashion and to bring the keys to the Gestapo building. The Jews were engaged in the transfer of their own furniture. In every case where they found attractive furniture, they transferred it to the local Germans. What they did with the remainder - I don't know. I saw in the camp at Zaslav piles upon piles of silverware, candlesticks, blankets, sheets. They piled up everything in order. They loaded the silverware on wheelbarrows - there was so much of it there.

Q. Tell me, at the railway station when they packed you into the train going to Belzec, when you thought that it was likely to go to Belzec why didn't you resist, why didn't you board the train?

A. We no longer had any strength left. Very simply, we wanted it to end quickly. This was in 1943. After so many years we did not have the strength to resist any more.

Q. You wanted it to end?

A. We wanted to die more quickly.

Q. Then why did you jump from the window?

A. There nevertheless was an impulse. For from the moment that we saw that the train was going in the direction of Belzec some spark was ignited. We saw someone jumping and some spark was kindled within people who wanted to save themselves. I wouldn't have jumped, if my mother hadn't pushed me forcibly.

Q. How were you saved from this hell?

A. After I jumped from the train, I went on foot in the direction of the town of Yaroslav. From there I reached Przemysl. I didn't find a single Jew there. I went into a house of some Christians. They allowed me to sleep there. After this I remained for some days in Przemysl and from there I travelled to Cracow. Cracow was a large city. I also tried to get into the ghetto. I was inside the ghetto for a little while. I saw that it was very bad there. I ran away from it. I hid as a Christian. Thereafter I entered the camp at Plaszow, together with people returning from work. Because the conditions there were so terrible, I ran away and hid as a Christian. Subsequently I crossed the border to Slovakia, and from Slovakia to Hungary.

Q. And from Hungary to Rumania?

A. And from Hungary to Rumania, and from Rumania to Turkey, and in 1944 I came to Palestine by train through Syria.

Q. And since then you have lived here?

A. Since then I have been here.

Q. Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius - do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions to this witness.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Gurfein, you mentioned the members of the SS - Kratzmann, Mueller and Schulz.

Witness Gurfein: Schulz was the commander of the Gestapo in Sanok.

Q. And who was Kratzmann?

A. Kratzmann was the Judenreferent within the Gestapo.

Q. Where was his office?

A. In the Gestapo of Sanok.

Q. And Mueller?

A. He was also a Gestapo man in Sanok.

Q. I didn't understand what you said about them. How did they take part in these events?

A. Kratzmann and Mueller were the most terrible Gestapo men. They also took part in the killing of Jews. The officer Schulz reached us in 1942 from Yaroslav. Subsequently we realized that he had come especially to organize the deportation of the Jews of Sanok. As I mentioned, they came to us, for we were a number of Jews together with their families within the camp of the Schutzpolizei (Civil Police). We hoped that we would be able to remain and to work there. They arrived that night, and saw that not all the people were capable of working. There were also small children. Despite the fact that previously they had allowed us to come into that camp with the members of our families as well, they separated us from each other and left only 20 persons.

Presiding Judge: You were asked what was the role of each of these Gestapo men.

Judge Halevi: What did the three Gestapo men, whose names you mentioned, do?

Witness Gurfein: At that time they separated our families from us, they loaded them onto trucks and transferred them to the Zaslav camp to be deported.

Q. You stayed there?

A. We remained in the camp of the Schutzpolizei.

Q. What happened to your families?

A. They removed them to the camp at Belzec in that same train, except for my uncle whom they gave another three months to live, and he was shot at the time the 500 people were shot.

Q. You said something about 10,000 Jews. Were they sent away all at the same time?

A. They were sent away together in three trains.

Q. Where to?

A. To Belzec.

Q. Was a separation made between those fit to work and others?

A. They took all the 10,000 Jews, both those who were fit to work, and also women, children and old men.

Attorney General: The camp at Belzec was an extermination camp, not a labour camp. There they did not separate people. There they exterminated everyone who arrived at the place.

Judge Halevi: You spoke of a particular case of separation of the families and that they cheated you and told you that within a short time you would see your families again?

Witness Gurfein: This was on that night, before the deportation, when they took the parents and the children away from us. The people who still remained in the camp began to plead that they should leave the families behind as they had promised. They calmed them down by saying that this was nothing, they were taking them only to some new habitation - we would be reunited within a week.

Q. Who said this?

A. The Gestapo commander in Sanok, Albert Schulz.

Q. That was a lie?

A. Of course, seeing that on the following day they transferred them by train to an extermination camp.

Judge Raveh: Did you meet any other persons from your town after the War?

Witness Gurfein: Yes. I met people. There were those who hid and who were not included in this transport. They hid with Christians and managed in this way to be saved. But of those who were on the train, I didn't meet anyone.

Q. Do you have an idea how many Jews of your town were saved?

A. I think that it would be possible to count them on the fingers of one hand - five or six people.

Q. Out of a population of 13,000?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your uncle survive?

A. No. They took him on the second transport and he perished.

Attorney General: I call Mr. Noach Zabludowicz.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Zabludowicz: Also Hebrew.

Attorney General: The witness speaks Hebrew.

The witness is sworn.

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

A. Noach Zabludowicz.

Attorney General: Do you live in Holon?

Presiding Judge: Age and address, please.

Attorney General: Yes. You live in Holon, at 14 Rehov Kalischer. You were born in 1919 in Ciechanow, and you work at the Electricity Corporation in Tel Aviv?

Witness Zabludowicz: Yes.

Q. At the outbreak of the Second World War were you in Ciechanow?

A. Yes.

Q. Where is Ciechanow?

A. It is near the border of Eastern Germany, a little more than 30 kilometres away.

Q. Was this annexed to Germany as "Eingegliederte Gebiete" (Incorporated Territories) after the occupation of Poland?

A. It was "Neue Heimat" (new homeland).

Q. Was it annexed to Germany?

A. Yes.

Q. Wasn't it part of the Generalgouvernement?

A. No.

Q. I understand that after the outbreak of the War and the transfer of people from Ciechanow to Warsaw, you remained in Warsaw until the surrender and thereafter you returned to Ciechanow?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us about the way back. Do you remember that the train stopped at one of the stations?

A. This was at the station Nasielsk, about 30 kilometres from home. When the train reached the station, the stationmaster came out - he was a German in a brown uniform - of the SS I believe - and ordered all the Jews to leave the train. Not one left - and most of the passengers on the train were Jews. When he turned to us a second and a third time and no one got off, he said that he wanted everyone to leave the train. All alighted from the train and stood there in rows. With me were my father and my two brothers. My mother had already returned some time before in a cart with my small brothers and sisters from Warsaw. Near me stood a woman, a teacher, with a few-months' old baby girl in her arms. Then the station commander turned to the crowd and said: "All Jews are to step out" and no one did so. He came up directly to the woman who was standing near me and asked her, in German: "Are you Jewish?" She answered in Polish that she didn't understand. He didn't ask anything further. He shot the baby. The woman shrieked and then he shot her, too, and said:

"Now, all of you get inside, back into the train."
Q. Let us come to the middle of 1940. Did any particular administration come to Ciechanow then?

A. A German administration. It was the SS, SD, the Gestapo and the SA.

Q. A civil administration?

A. German civil administration.

Q. What happened to the Jews when they came?

A. As soon as they came, they began to issue anti-Jewish decrees. They issued identity cards, on the first page of which there was written in large letters the word "Jude." They published a law whereby Jews had to wear the Star of David on their chests, on the left-hand side, with the word "Jude," and a patch of yellow cloth on their back. Jews were forbidden to walk on the pavements. Jews had to remove their hats before any person in German uniform. The Jews were ordered to report every morning at six at the market place in order to go out to work.

When all the Jews had been lined up, the Mayor - the "Buergermeister"came out and all the Jews took off their hats and said: "Good morning, Mr. Mayor," and his reply was "Good morning, swine." And with a whip in his hand he passed amongst the ranks and hit anyone he chanced upon until he was sated with Jewish blood, and they then detailed the detachments for forced labour - road building, cleaning roads, buildings, etc.

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