The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 23
(Part 1 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No. 23

6 Iyar 5721 (2 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the twenty-third Session of the trial open.

Yes, Dr. Servatius, we have received four applications for the hearing of witnesses who are now abroad. I notice that you have given a copy to the Attorney General. We shall consider these applications at the beginning of this afternoon's session.

Dr. Servatius: Yes, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: And Mr. Hausner, will you also be ready to respond to these applications?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, may I be permitted to voice one other reservation against the hearing of the witness who has been in the witness-box? The evidence has, perhaps, great significance from the point of view of its importance in a historical process. It is not relevant to a judicial investigation, since it has no connection with the Accused's responsibility. I would say, further, that these matters have already been stated and proven here by documents and other witnesses and by the Polish report. I am, therefore, of the opinion that there is a certain repetition here. Accordingly, the evidence should not be submitted, unless the Attorney General indicates important facts which have not yet been brought forward. The Attorney General has referred briefly to what the witness is about to testify, and that is - Operation 1005 of Sturmbannfuehrer Blobel, an operation which was intended to remove the traces of the extermination campaign. The only important circumstance can be the extent to which there was a link between the Accused and Blobel in this campaign. The task of Sturmbannfuehrer Blobel and the implementation of such tasks can be assumed to be correct.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, I have so far proved that Nazi Germany decided at a certain stage to destroy physically all the Jews who were in the areas of its occupation and control. I have proved that the man who was in charge of the implementation of this order was Heydrich, and that Heydrich, for his part, appointed the Accused. This has already been proven. Consequently, the Prosecution maintains that everything that was done as a result of that decision and under that control for the extermination of the Jews - is relevant. The Accused will be held responsible for all this and he will be obliged to give his answer to it, if he has one.

Secondly, we have shown that Eastern Galicia became a part of the Generalgouvernement. We have proved that at the Wannsee meeting it was concluded that the execution of the final solution in the region of the Generalgouvernement was the concern of the Head Office of Reich Security, and the Head of the Jewish Department there, Adolf Eichmann. This is extremely relevant. We are accusing him of this. Part of the millions were the half million Jews of Galicia. We have charged him with this and I am obliged to prove it. The onus of proof is upon me, and this is the witness.

Thirdly, we have maintained that there was a criminal conspiracy for the extermination of Jewry between the Accused and others and we accordingly constantly worded the indictment "together with others." We shall argue that it was possible to remain in Berlin and to be responsible for the extermination of the Jews of Lvov if the deed was done by virtue of that conspiracy.

That is as far as the extermination is concerned. With regard to the covering up of the traces, our point is that the Accused was the superior of Blobel - incidentally Defence Counsel exaggerated his rank; he was nothing more than SS Standartenfuehrer. The Court will find this in the document which has already been submitted, T/84, which is the report of Wisliceny. We shall substantiate this by means of three additional documents - the connection between Eichmann and Blobel, who was in charge of the operation of Einsatzkommando 1005. Consequently, everything that the witness has already said and also the facts that he is about to relate are most relevant and I ask to be permitted to continue leading the evidence.

Presiding Judge: Decision No. 13

We think that the evidence of the witness Wells is relevant to the subject of the trial. The question that has to be determined is the personal responsibility of the Accused for the acts set out in the indictment. In this connection the Prosecution has firstly to prove that all these acts were committed and secondly - the responsibility of the Accused. In accordance with established procedures in a criminal trial it is impossible to eliminate matters from the area of dispute by means of an agreement by the two parties. Nevertheless, we assume that the Prosecution will take note of Defence Counsel's statement that he will not challenge one or the other fact in regard to the general background of events, and will accordingly limit the extent of its evidence.

Attorney General: Dr. Wells, please.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Wells, you are still under oath.

Witness Wells: Yes, sir.

Presiding Judge: You may sit down.

Witness Wells: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, with regard to our decision we have just handed down, perhaps it would really be possible to accelerate somewhat the process of leading evidence by way of examining Counsel guiding the witness by his questions more than has been done so far.

Attorney General: Certainly. I have been avoiding leading questions all the time, but if the Court advises so, I shall do so.

Presiding Judge: One can assume that Defence Counsel does not object to this. I see no reason why you should not guide the witness.

Attorney General: To rephrase my question Dr. Wells. You arrived in Stojanow on a Monday before Yom Kippur. Is that correct?

Witness Wells: Yes.

Q. The streets of Stojanow were deserted?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You went to the flat of your grandparents?

A. Yes.

Q. You passed the house of your uncle Yaakov?

A. Yes.

Q. And you decided to make inquiries there?

A. Yes.

Q. You entered the house?

A. Yes.

Q. And then what did you notice?

A. I noticed my grandfather and my uncle and one aunt sitting at the table. Without any question, it was clear to me what had happened. That they are the remaining part of my family.

Q. Your grandfather said: Yes my boy, we are the last ones here?

A. Yes.

Q. You asked your grandfather whether he got a letter from Lvov?

A. Yes.

Q. He replied in the affirmative?

A. Yes.

Q. Then you asked when he got that letter?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he reply?

A. He replied one day before the action in Stojanow, the children, that is my four sisters, were sitting on this day crying about my mother and next day they were taken away marching to Radziechow for the final sending them off to Belzec.

Q. And that is where you learned that your mother was no longer there?

A. She was taken in the big action of August 1942 in Lvov.

Q. What did you do when you learned that?

A. I cut my veins on my arm, to commit suicide.

Presiding Judge: Tried to commit suicide.

Attorney General: How were you saved?

Witness Wells: I was saved by a neighbour doctor from the next house and by my uncle, and their idea was that none of us has the right to commit suicide because maybe you will be the last one to carry the name of our whole family and to tell what happened here.

Q. That is what your uncle told you, your uncle Yaakov?

A. Yes, that was my uncle Yaakov.

Q. Well, by and by Jews ventured into the streets of Stojanow again.

A. They didn't really venture into the streets because there were left at this time only thirty Jews of the population of over a thousand families from before.

Q. How many were left?

A. Thirty.

Q. Well, one morning you heard that something was in the air?

A. Yes.

Q. What was it?

A. It was the final liquidation of the Jews, making Stojanow and its people judenrein and also the neighbourhood.

Q. Did you see this "action"?

A. I saw - I don't know to which "action" you refer; there were a few.

Q. Well, let us speak about the one that you saw.

A. A few days after Yom Kippur I left for Radziechow which is ten kilometres west of Stojanow. There, there was still a Jewish ghetto so that at this time I went into this ghetto and I didn't care any more about any action or about life at all. I found a broken down place outside the ghetto and I lived there for a while; meanwhile there was also the final liquidation of Stojanow and also the first liquidation of Radziechow started.

Q. Your grandfather and your uncle Yaakov, when were they liquidated?

A. He was liquidated end of December together with my uncle Yaakov, his wife and their two children.

Q. What about your sisters?

A. My sisters were liquidated the Friday before Yom Kippur; all four sisters with my grandmother and two aunts and eight cousins were taken away at this time - marched barefoot from Stajanow to Radziechow. There they sat at the railway station for two days and two nights without any food - my youngest sister was seven years old at this time - and then they were packed into railway waggons and sent away to Belzec.

Q. When they were there, did they have any clothes on?

A. They were undressed when they were put into the waggons.

Q. You returned to Lvov on 20 December 1942?

A. That's right. I decided at this time that whatever would happen with my father and my two brothers, at least I would be together with them and I wouldn't try to hide any longer.

Q. How did you enter the ghetto?

A. At the beginning I didn't even know where the ghetto was, because when I left about five months before, there was still a larger Jewish Community, but now it had shrunk into a few streets. I jumped over the surroundings...

Q. You jumped the fence?

A. Jumped over the fence and got inside.

Q. You saw your brother Yaakov?

A. No, next day I was caught.

Q. I know you were arrested and you escaped.

A. I found my brother in the street.

Q. And where did your brother lead you?

A. Into a basement, where he and my other brother and a woman who was mentally ill lived together.

Q. Was your father still alive?

A. No, he disappeared in the action of October 18th-19th in Lvov.

Q. So, when did you last see your father?

A. I last saw my father in June when I left Lvov for Stojanow.

Q. You spoke to him?

A. I spoke to him. I asked him at this time what I should do, whether to stay there or to leave?

Q. What did your father tell you?

A. It was the first time I saw my father crying and saying: "I don't know what to say. It is a time that a father cannot tell his children what they should do. If I tell you one way and it turns out wrong, I will feel very guilty, and if I tell you the other way, so you have to take the responsibility on yourself."

Q. Now let us come back to your return to Lvov. When you saw your brothers in front of you, you sensed they needed you. What did you tell them?

A. I got in, I broke the [last existing] chair, made hot water; we started to wash up, I washed them, got in somebody to cut their hair because they had let themselves go entirely. My younger brother was at that time thirteen. They sold the last item from the house - they took what was left and bought chocolate to eat because they didn't care anymore. They thought that they had a few more days to live...they should sell and eat one time full. Now I made a hiding place for them and next day started out to get some work so I can stay in the ghetto.

Q. How many Jews were there in Lvov at that time?

A. About fifteen thousand.

Q. Now one day the ghetto was renamed?

A. Under Grzymek, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Grzymek, who took over from Heinrich, the ghetto was renamed 05Julag, Judenlager.

Q. A new order was issued about work, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the order?

A. The order was that only working people can stay and all non-working people are taken away. We couldn't keep our family any more, any place; and we had to move to different places where they told us to move so they had a complete check who moved and put up so many places for these people to live in.

Q. What was the effect of this new order? The mental effect on the ghetto inhabitants?

A. The mental effect on the ghetto inhabitants was that there was panic. We started to hide anywhere possible and they began to carry out inspections twice a day. They were very particular about the word "cleanliness"...every place had to be searched and looked over. They tried to see how clean it is, but this meant for us that in any place could be found anybody that will show his head. It meant also that anybody who got sick couldn't even lie for a day hiding in a bed, and this brought terrible panic and turned into even much more sickness than there was before this happened.

Q. What did he do to the sick people?

A. He took them away on lorries and took them away to be shot.

Q. Well, by the end of February both your brothers came down with typhoid fever and dysentery. Is that correct? What did you do?

A. I made a hiding place for them, which I had to make in any case, but in this hiding place I put a place where they can lie. I took care of them when I came home in the evening and kept them all the time until the time of the liquidation.

Q. Did you work at that time?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. I was cleaning the canals of the city.

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