The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 21
(Part 4 of 9)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. How long did a working day last?

A. There were no hours. From the morning, at six o'clock until dark.

Q. What happened to Jewish property?

A. At the same time they issued a confiscation order. All property was confiscated - not houses, since you cannot take houses away - but shops and the contents of shops, and also monies and flour mills and stores. Everything belonging to Jews was confiscated.

Q. What about food? What food did you receive?

A. They confiscated all the Jewish bakeries, and one bakery remained for the Jewish public, and then they distributed two hundred grams of bread to each Jew. Jews were forbidden to walk in the street from 7.30 p.m., from the time it became dark. When the Jews were shut off in their homes, the Gestapo men began their brutal treatment. I still remember several of their names: Rosmann, Barsel and others like them, who came late at night...Pardon me, I want to go back for a moment: At that time the Jews were ordered to restrict their area of residence.

With us it was a ghetto, but it was the only ghetto that was not closed although it was a defined area which Jews were forbidden to leave. Anyone found outside this restricted area was shot. At that time they destroyed many of the old houses in the centre of the town; they were mainly Jewish houses and the people whose good homes were taken away had to enter the restricted area.

Judge Raveh: What period are you talking about?

Witness Zabludowicz: Of 1940-1941. We took another four families into the apartment in which we lived. The Germans began their cruel treatment. They used to knock on the entrance doors, break down these doors and enter the houses. Inside the rooms people had settled down by making tiers of bunks in each room, right up to the ceiling, at three or four levels, and couples occupied each bed. They used to come into the houses and say:"You up on top - come down; you over there - come down; you down below - get off." Then they would ask the man "Why are you sleeping with this woman?" The reply would be: "This is my wife." The same way they questioned another and a third. And then they would exchange the men and the women and then they would compel them at pistol point to have sexual relations in the presence of the children and all their families; and all kinds of things, and blows and killing.

There was a terrible instance the first time they entered a courtyard in the market street late at night, between 11 and 12, and shouted into the yard: "Hurry up, all Jews are to get out." The men began running. They seized the last five Jews and took them into custody. After several weeks of being detained in prison, the order came from Berlin: Since these Jews had shirked work, they received a death sentence by hanging. They erected a gallows in the centre of the town and hanged them in the presence of all the Jews of the town who were forced to be present. They were left hanging for 24 hours.

Q. They were left hanging for 24 hours?

A. Yes.

Q. At that time you were working as a driver for a Volksdeutscher by the name of Kessler?

A. For the Reichsdeutscher Kessler.

Q. Were there deportations from Ciechanow?

A. Yes.

Q. How many times?

A. Before the general deportation there was one deportation.

Q. When was the general deportation?

A. The general deportation was in November 1942.

Q. Where were the Jews deported to?

A. To Auschwitz.

Q. What was the food situation in Ciechanow - did you have anything to eat?

A. The food situation was very bad. First of all, Jews were not allowed to walk in the streets. Whoever walked in the street was beaten up. Whoever fell into the hands of the Germans was given blows, whether he removed his hat or not, whether it was a child or an adult, whether it was a woman or a man - everyone got his beating. And the food was issued according to coupons and was very limited and very bad.

Q. Was there sickness?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the health situation?

A. Not good. There was a doctor named Braun who worked devotedly day and night and opened a kind of clinic in his house - it was a wooden hut - and he provided aid.

Q. What illnesses broke out?

A. Typhus and all kinds of starvation illnesses.

Q. You personally encountered an incident when you were inside the ghetto, and two German soldiers passed by you. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us briefly what happened.

A. In May 1940 - until then I had worked with the Land Gendarmerie and a lieutenant by the name of Kolberg. I was with him as a sort of mechanic and I looked after his car, and on many occasions I also travelled all over the province. He was the officer in charge of the rural police throughout the whole period.

Presiding Judge: What was your profession?

Witness Zabludowicz: Driver, mechanic, electrician.

Attorney General: The two German soldiers passed by and you didn't take your hat off?

Witness Zabludowicz: I didn't take my hat off.

Q. What did they do after they saw this?

A. They stopped and said: "You Jewish swine! Why don't you remove your filthy hat from your head?" I answered them shortly "Kiss me." They came running at me. This was 18 or 19 years ago. I was somewhat younger and I was also once the best runner in the whole of our province. I made off at the double. They chased me and overtook me. But I went down to the ground and the two of them fell over and I escaped.

Presiding Judge: I didn't understand that.

Witness Zabludowicz: When they caught up with me, I bent over, and they fell over me, and then I disappeared.

Attorney General: You hid?

Witness Zabludowicz: I hid.

Presiding Judge: Did you evade them?

Witness Zabludowicz: Yes. I still don't know how they got hold of my address and particulars, but the next day I was told to travel to Beilin, to a vegetable garden in the vicinity of the town, six kilometres from Beilin where Jews from the ghetto of Malba were working. There was an order from the German transport office - that each week one of the German truck owners had to give...

Attorney General: Let us leave aside these details. In the end did they find you?

Witness Zabludowicz: They found me.

Q. Did they take you to the police?

A. Yes, to the police station.

Q. What happened then?

A. At the police station I was arrested and they took me to the Gestapo. At the Gestapo I received a reception like this. It was 12 o'clock. They had all gone to lunch. Only the Commander was present. He read out the charge sheet. He asked:

"Wisst Du warum man hat Dir hergebracht?" (Do you know why you have been brought here - (in broken German)) and I said: "Yes, I do, aber das alles ist nicht wahr" - (but all this is not true).

Q. Please say this in Hebrew.

A. It is difficult to express this in Hebrew. These are the original words. It is hard to translate. This is very "choice" language.

Presiding Judge: Very well, continue as you wish and the German words will be translated.

A. He said to me "Du Saujude, so frech bist Du noch?" (You Jewish swine, you are still so impertinent?). He went to a cupboard and took out a whip with a plaited lash at the end of which there were pieces of lead and gave me a savage beating over the head. My head swelled and I was oozing blood all over and couldn't see. He said "Du Hund, Du hast eine Vorspeise, aber Du kommst kein Lebendiger davon heraus" (You cur - you have had the hors d'oeuvre but you will not get out of here alive).

Two weeks later I was summoned to an interrogation at the Gestapo. There was a call inside the prison "Open the door." The man in charge inside the prison, one of the prisoners, shouted "Achtung" (Attention) and everybody stood up. Then they called "Zabludowicz, komm mal heraus!" (Zabludowicz, come out). When I approached the door, I asked whether I should get dressed, for I was wearing a shirt without trousers. He said "Nein, Du brauchst Dich nicht anziehen" (No, you don't have to get dressed), and he took me outside. When I came to the corridor, he stopped me. One of the Gestapo men was standing there - I don't remember his title, his rank - and he bound my hands in the most modern way, through the legs, took out a revolver and said: "Pass mal auf, wenn Du erweiterst Dich weiter als drei Schritte, bist Du erschossen" (Take note, if you move more than three paces away, you will be shot).

That day was market day, it was a Tuesday, I left the prison and they brought me to the Gestapo. I walked all the time with my head facing backwards since I did not know what he meant by three paces. When I reached the Gestapo building, they received me "fairly well," evidently they were already waiting for me, and the first question was "Was, bist Du ein Jude?" (Are you a Jew?). I replied "Yes." They asked "Wo hast Du Dein Schandfleck?" (Where is your badge of shame?).

Before I could even manage to answer as to what happened inside the prison, I received a "warm" reception. One of the officers came in and said:"Der Mann gehoert heute zu mir" (This man belongs to me today), and he summoned me to his room. He seated me comfortably on a chair. He actually made a "good" impression on me - like the others. He turned to me and said: "Herr Zabludowicz, rauchen Sie bitte?" (Mr. Zabludowicz - please, do you smoke?). I said "No." The first question was that I should tell him of the incident which I caused on Saturday. I told him. I did not omit the smallest detail of what had happened. I told him exactly what had taken place. He asked: "Do you know what the penalty is for that?" I said: "I know." He said: "I am prepared to help you on condition that you will be released from here and go straight home. I know very well that you have not been listening to the radio. But tell me only who listened to the radio and you will go straight home from here."

Presiding Judge: What radio?

A. The previous indictment had been...during the last two years I had been a "German" a "pure German" (ich war ein Volksdeutscher).

Presiding Judge: What does that mean?

Witness Zabludowicz: On that day in May 1940 I began working for Kessler he obtained an identity card for me as a pure German - (Volksdeutscher).

Presiding Judge: In your name?

A. In my name, not Noach Zabludowicz but Robert Zabludowicz.

Presiding Judge: And this was so from 1940 to 1942?

A. Until May 1942. There was a problem with his sister-in- law, but it is of no consequence to this trial. When they questioned me at the police station, a certain policeman, who recognized me, asked: "Was, Du hier?" (What, you're here?). An officer asked him: "Where do you know him from?", and he replied "Er ist doch von der Kessler-Bande. Sie haben dort eine juedische Regierung, und sie machen was sie wollen." (He is one of the Kessler gang. They have a Jewish government there and do what they like. This Kessler was the employer for whom I worked. He was Bernhard Kessler, one of the purest and cleanest Germans that I knew at the time of the War, who helped many Jews.

Q. Was Kessler the German who employed you as a driver?

A. That is correct.

Q. And he arranged your papers?

A. That is correct.

Presiding Judge: Now let us return to this interrogation.

Witness Zabludowicz: In the interrogation I said to the officer: "Commander, Sir, whatever I did - I did. I beg your pardon twenty thousand times: The whole week I was away. I worked on the route from our village to Tilsit - that is in East Prussia, the last place on the border with Lithuania. I was away the whole week, and on Saturday, at noon, I came home.

Q. What were you hauling there?

A. The Germans used to travel between the villages and they took various things. They took all the poultry, removed their heads with an axe, threw them into crates and wrote on them "Maschinenteile, zerbrechlich, nicht umkehren" (Machine parts, fragile, do not turn upside down). They sent these crates to Germany, together with pigs and chickens. And I was the honest person who carried this. I said to this officer:"Whatever I did - I did. I admit this and I am ready to receive my punishment. But as far as the radio is concerned, I am not prepared to tell." And thus it went on from 8 o'clock in the morning...

Q. What was the suggestion, to inform on people...?

A. The suggestion was that I should report who listened to the radio.

Q. What radio?

A. The foreign radio (auslaendischer sender). At that time I belonged to the underground - throughout that period.

Judge Raveh: That is to say, he wanted to know which members of the Kessler gang listened to the foreign radio - was that the idea?

Witness Zabludowicz: No, the reference was to Jews.

Q. Jews, generally speaking.

A. There was also a Jewish girl working there.

Q. What did he want to know? Who were listening, the Jews or members of the Kessler gang?

A. Jews, these members of the Kessler gang were Jews. He did not get an answer to what he wanted from me. At that point somebody came into the room and apologized; his telephone was not working and he asked whether he could telephone from there. He replied "certainly," a few seconds later four cadets entered - one needed a book, the second the telephone, and the third something else. After they heard how the interrogation was proceeding, one of them shouted: "Warum spielst Du sich so mit ihm? Gib ihn in meine Haende, ich mach ihn gleich fertig" (Why are you playing with him? Put him in my hands, I'll soon finish him off). And he said to me: "See what luck you have, how good that you did not fall into their hands." In short, with a word here and a word there, the preliminary interrogation ended.

There was a semi-circular chair there and it had openings. They told me to lie down on my stomach on the chair, with my head going through on the other side. One of them came up, took my head between his legs, while another one stood on my legs. I was on my knees, and my legs were being held. Two of them took out whips with the lead tips and started beating. I couldn't shout because I was choking. I felt moisture all over my body. I couldn't count the blows I received. I had already lost count. I began to work myself loose with all my strength; I made a tremendous effort, and I knocked over the two who were holding me, together with the chair, and the chair was smashed to pieces, and they fell down.

Then they said: "Der Hund hat uns den Stuhl kaputt gemacht" (The dog has broken the chair for us), and they seized the legs, they were round legs made of hard wood, we used to call it "redwood," oak, and they began to beat me on my head with these legs until there were no more pieces of wood left. I fell down and fainted, and then they poured over me a bucket of water that had been standing in the room. I regained consciousness somewhat. The room was full of blood.

It was one o'clock. At one o'clock they looked at their watches and said: "Wir muessen Mittag essen gehen" (We have to go for lunch). There was a man there walking around, his name was Bresler, he used to wander around the streets of the town, and they told him to watch me until they returned.

Q. Did you ask him to finish you off?

A. Yes. But now I thought that until they returned, for about half-an-hour, I would be able to rest a little. This Bresler, I thought to myself, would allow me half-an-hour or for whatever time I had. In the room there stood a square stove, made of porcelain. When they went out, he said to me: "Oben, herauf! Oben, herunter!" (Get up! Get down! Get up! Get down!) And so on. I had to climb up on the stove and get down until I lost all my strength. Until I fell down at his feet and begged him:"Ich bitte Ihnen, schiessen Sie mich!" (I beg of you to shoot me). He answered me: "Du Hund, es ist eine Schade eine Patrone. Du wirst so krepieren muessen" (You dog, it would be a pity to waste a bullet on you - you will have to die this way), and he kicked me in the mouth with his foot and I spat out all my teeth.

At that time the important "men in charge" returned and started with their new tortures. Then one of them standing near a table, opened a small box, the size of a packet of tea, but made of bakelite, about the size of a telephone and extracted wires from it. The interrogation officer asked me: "Do you know what this is?" I replied: "An electrical apparatus," and he said:"Wenn Du wirst nicht die Wahrheit sprechen, wirst Du bald im Apparat sprechen" (If you do not speak the truth, you will speak the truth with the aid of this instrument).

They put the two ends which had clamps on them on my hand. They began to turn a handle, something like the receiver of a telephone, and I began to feel the current in my hands. Each time it became stronger, and my hands began to move automatically and very rapidly over my whole body, and I began simply going from wall to wall, and they began giving me murderous blows on my head. I don't know why, with this going on, I didn't fall down. They held me in this way by force about an hour- and-a-half, or two hours, and shouted "Gib ihm!" Give it to him!).

And then he said to me "Der Hund hat uns den ganzen Strom aufgefressen!" (The dog has swallowed up our entire current!). Thus they went on knocking me around and beating me savagely until 7:30 in the evening. And then suddenly the interrogating officer looked at his watch and said: "Oh, um Gottes willen, ich muss noch heute die Sara hoeren" (Oh God (suddenly he remembered God) - I still have to question Sara today). Sara was a girl who had also worked for Kessler in the household and the vegetable garden. She was also under arrest. They went to call her. Meanwhile they told me to tidy myself.

And when Sara came into the room, they said to her: "Sag mal bitte, Sara Altaus, was ist Noach Zabludowicz fuer Dir?" (Tell me, Sara Altaus, what is Noach Sabludowicz to you?). She replied" "Mein Kamerad" (My comrade). They said: "Was, So ein Schwein - ein Kamerad?" (What? Such a swine is your comrade?). She didn't understand what it was all about, what was happening. And they continued: "Der Hund hat kein Radio gehoert? Alles - Sara!" (This cur did not listen to the radio? Was it all Sara?). Within myself I thought that they had got the point here and that she would reply:"Not me - it was him." But the hand of God was upon her and she said: "That is not true." She worked only in the vegetable garden, and if they called her on occasion into the house, it was only to clean the utensils and she never went near the room with the radio.

They took us back to the prison and we remained there for six or seven weeks and they transferred us to a camp for education (Erziehungslager) by means of labour. And I received "Education" from these fine people, and then they took us to Sonsk - this was 8-10 kilometres from the town - and in this place there were only Poles, and we...

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