The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: If Defence Counsel is able to help us - we shall be very glad to receive his help. As far as we know, Hoefle was in Lublin. But it is possible that the Accused knows this better than we do.

The following document is No. 1248. This is a cable of 9 October 1941 from Litzmannstadt, addressed to Himmler, in which the Head of the district Uebelhoer, Regierungspraesident und SS Brigadefuehrer, complains that SS Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann has evidently concealed the correct facts regarding the situation in the Ghetto of Lodz and supplied false data (falsche Angaben), because there is no more room there to place people, and the conditions are most dangerous and most difficult, and the danger of plagues does not exist any longer since the plagues already exist there, even without placing another twenty-five thousand people in Litzmannstadt.

The reference was to Eichmann's plan to put into Lodz another twenty thousand Jews and 5,000 gypsies.

He writes that out of 160 thousand Jews who were in the Ghetto on 30 April there remained only 145 thousand on the day the cable was sent.

Presiding Judge: Was the Regierungspraesident an official of the Ministry of the Interior?

Attorney General: So we believe. And he asks that these people should not be sent to Lodz. He castigates Eichmann's methods of handling this matter by using the term "methods of crooked horse-trading."

The next document...

Judge Raveh: Is there a reply to this document in the Accused's statement?

Attorney General: Yes. We shall see this directly.

The following document is No. 1247. This is the report of Ventzki, the official who dealt with the affairs of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. He reports on the problem of the dispatch of 20,000 Jews and 5,000 gypsies; he analyses the position in the Ghetto, points out the terrible rate of mortality there, and at the end reaches the conclusion: "We have countless problems to solve, even without receiving the gypsies here."

Presiding Judge: Who was Ventzki?

Attorney General: We believe that he was the assistant of Uebelhoer who sent the cable. I draw the Court's attention to what is said on page 13 regarding Ventzki's conclusions.

The following document is No. 1544, in which Heydrich states that despite all the complaints and objections and despite the remarks of Brigadefuehrer Uebelhoer, 20,000 Jews and 5,000 gypsies would be sent to the Ghetto at Lodz. But the heading of the letter, Your Honour, is IVB4 - Eichmann's unit.

Presiding Judge: It says IVB4a.

Attorney General: This is sub-unit a. The letter is addressed to Himmler himself, in reply to the reservations of the Governor of Lodz. On page 2 Heydrich states that Eichmann examined the situation and that the persons in charge of the Ghetto had agreed to accept these 20,000 Jews.

Dr. Servatius: In order to clarify these documents, I wish to bring the following matters to the attention of the President of the Court. These remarks are based upon a quarrel which had arisen between the Generalgouvernement and this province. For the Governor of the Generalgouvernement, Frank, did not want the Jews and he opposed their transfer to this area. In consequence thereof they remained en route and this brought about the fact that they were taken to Litzmannstadt.

Attorney General: I must, to my regret, dispute the remarks of Defence Counsel. At all events, a factual explanation should be given under oath. It does not emerge from the document. Litzmannstadt was also not in the area of the Generalgouvernement. On this there is certainly no disagreement.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/222.

Attorney General: The Court will notice that in paragraph 2 Heydrich writes about the fact that Uebelhoer demanded that the name of the official in question should be mentioned and that a complaint should be lodged against Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann with the Reichsfuehrer SS in this matter.

Presiding Judge: Did he reject this, since he was responsible for his subordinates and it was possible to make the complaint to him?

Judge Halevi: Heydrich goes further. He accuses the complainant of unpatriotic behaviour, behaviour that was not in keeping with the SS - with membership of the SS.

Attorney General: The Court will notice where the document came from, and what its source was, in the heading. Clearly when the letter was addressed to Himmler himself, Eichmann would not sign it, but Heydrich. But the letter originates from him and from his Department.

I call now our next witness, Mr. Henryk Ross. Mr. Ross will have to testify in Polish, and Advocate Riftin will be able to assist us in translating from Polish to Hebrew and vice versa. I would be grateful to the Court, if it will swear in Advocate Riftin as a interpreter.

[Advocate Riftin is sworn as interpreter.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

A. Avraham Riftin.

Q. Are you an advocate? An Israeli?

A. An Israeli advocate, previously a Polish advocate until 1939.

[Witness Ross is sworn]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Henryk Ross.

Attorney General: Do you live in Jaffa, Rehov 402/6?

Witness Ross: Yes.

Q. Do you work at Orit Zincography in Tel Aviv?

A. Yes.

Q. You were born in the year 1910?

A. Yes. On 1 May 1910.

Q. When the Second World War broke out, you were in the Polish army. In November 1939 you moved to Lodz where you resided?

A. Yes.

Q. The Ghetto at Lodz was established in 1940, is that correct?

A. Yes. That is correct. The Ghetto was established in 1940. Notices about the Ghetto appeared beforehand, but the Ghetto was closed off on 1 May.

Q. Were food ration cards distributed to the population?

A. Yes.

Q. Was it possible to exist on the food rations that were given?

A. It was impossible.

Q. What food was given to the Jews of Lodz?

A. It was precisely this: We received a loaf of bread for eight days. Apart from this there were food rations in small quantities, which were sometimes rotten. Everyone rejoiced at the prospect of potatoes, but finally it became clear that they were all rotten and unfit to eat.

Q. What did the people eat?

A. Those who worked received an extra ration of soup. The soup consisted of 800 grams of water, 60 grams of potatoes, 3 grams of some cereal and 50-60 grams of what was called in German Kiloriben Here in Israel there is no such thing - I haven't seen it. When there were no potatoes, they added this to the soup.

Presiding Judge: Aren't you referring to Kohlrueben or beet?

A. Yes, Kohlrueben.

Attorney General: By the way, it exists in Israel. You worked before the War as a journalist and photographer, and at the time of the occupation you worked in the statistical department of the Ghetto management?

A. Yes, before the year 1939 - that is to say before the outbreak of the War - I was employed as a photographer for more than ten Polish newspapers in Poland. When the War broke out and I returned from the War, when the Ghetto was established, I was given the post of photographer in the statistical department. I worked there from the year 1940, approximately until August 1944.

Q. We shall soon come to your photographs, Mr. Ross. But meanwhile tell us something about the statistics, how many Jews were there in Lodz at the time the Ghetto was set up?

Presiding Judge: When, Mr. Hausner?

Attorney General: He told us, in May 1940.

Witness Ross: In May 1940, when the Ghetto was officially sealed, 203,000 Jews were registered, according to what I saw in our department.

Presiding Judge: When the Ghetto was established?

Witness Ross: Yes, when the Ghetto was sealed and closed off.

Attorney General: After this were Jews from other places added to the Ghetto?

Witness Ross: Afterwards more Jews arrived who had been transferred from small townlets such as Zdunska Wola, Pabianice, and other townlets. In 1942, Jews who had been expelled from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg and Austria were brought into the Ghetto. They numbered 21,000. Most of them consisted of the intelligentsia. Amongst them were also rich people as well as non-Jews, whose forefathers of the third preceding generation only were Jewish.

Q. Perhaps you would tell us something about these offspring of mixed marriages who reached the Litzmannstadt Ghetto?

A. There were women who, according to the German racial law, were pure Aryans, but they came to the ghetto together with their Jewish husbands. According to the German racial law, the fourth generation was already exempted from being in the ghetto - they were pure Germans. There were cases where people did not even know where they were travelling to. And they even had with them children who, already of the fourth generation, were not Jews, so to say cleansed of Jewish blood.

Q. Were there also members of the "Hitler Jugend" (Hitler Youth) amongst them?

A. Yes. There were instances where the children arrived together with their parents and walked around for the first days in the uniform of the Hitler Jugend.

Q. What was the attitude of these children to the Jews of the ghetto?

A. In the first two or three days they went around in the streets singing "Hei-li, hei-la" in German, and naturally beating up the Jews. This thing continued for two or three days. Afterwards they understood, their parents explained to them that things were not good for them. They did not have anything to eat.

Q. You said that at the beginning there were in the ghetto 203,000 Jews. 21,000 persons were added from the villages and from abroad. What happened to this quarter of a million Jews, approximately, during the years 1940-1944?

A. Throughout this time, during the five years of the ghetto, they died from starvation and they worked very hard. The food rations were not adequate. People either swelled up from hunger or became emaciated. There were cases of people collapsing in the street; there were cases where they collapsed at work and at home because of the difficult conditions. We were 6-8 persons to one room, depending on the size of the room. People froze from the cold. There was no heating. The hunger and the frost caused much distress.

I saw instances while at work where men collapsed, and help that could have come, arrived too late. Matters reached such a state that during a single day they used to bring 120 people to the cemetery. There was a Burial Society with its vehicles. To begin with they were taking for burial two or three victims of starvation. But afterwards, when the number reached 120, it became necessary to construct special carts to transport the bodies. I saw entire families, skeletons of people, who during the night were dying with their children.

When the neighbours entered in the morning, they saw that all of them had died from frost and starvation. Surrounding the ghetto was a fence guarded by Germans. In the beginning they were Volksdeutsche police in blue uniforms. Afterwards there were other guards on behalf of the German ruling power - amongst them men of the NSDAP.

Q. Mr. Ross, you dealt with statistics?

A. I worked in the statistical department.

Q. Do you know how many people, roughly, died from starvation in Lodz?

A. More than 120,000 people, approximately, died of starvation.

Q. What happened to the remaining 100,000?

A. Meanwhile, from 1940 to 1944, there were deportations. Already in 1940 there were deportations of 1,000, 500 persons in each operation.

Q. Mr. Ross, at the beginning were the deportations voluntary? Were the people invited to register for deportation?

A. Yes. After the year 1940, the Germans wrote to the Judenrat the Jewish Council, asking them to register for departure, saying that it would be good for them and that they would receive work and good food.

Q. Did you in the ghetto know at that time where the transports were going to?

A. In the year 1940, it was still not known, but in 1941, at the time of the further deportations, the Jews began to make enquiries and it became known to them that they were going into the "frying pan."

Q. What was the "frying pan?"

A. This was a routine expression of the people in the ghetto. They knew they were going to be burned, they used to call this "going to the frying pan." The largest deportation was in 1942. Then many Germans of the SD came in, they conducted an operation (Aktion). They took people from blocks of houses, surrounded them, removed from the apartments children and aged people through a process of selection, loaded them on to carts; they even loaded them on to tramcars, sometimes making them run on foot.

During this time of deportation in 1942, they expelled from the ghetto more than 20,000 Jews, snatched children from the arms of their mothers; I do not have to say that this was not voluntary, and I do not see the necessity for talking here about the shouts and the blows. I saw an instance where they collected children in a particular hospital in Drewnowska Street. Drewnowska Street was partly in the ghetto and partly in the city. There was a fence on the pavement. The hospital was in the ghetto and the street was in the city. I once saw vehicles come up with two trailers, large vehicles with eight wheels. These were open trucks, they called them "Roll Kommando," I do not know if this was only a nickname used by the people of the ghetto or whether this was the official name - I had no knowledge of this.

In these vehicles there were sick people, women and men. The Germans concluded that too few people were riding in the vehicles. They said they had to load more. The trucks came to the front of the hospital where the children were assembled.

The Germans threw the children from the second floor and from the balconies. The children were of various ages, from one year to approximately ten years. The Germans threw them from the balconies on to these open trucks, on top of the sick people. A few children wept, but most of them were already not crying . The children scratched the walls with their fingernails. The children did not cry any more, they knew what awaited them, they had heard about it. They could not cry.

The Germans were running around in these rooms, they beat them and threw them from the windows and the balconies into these trucks. I was not there for a long time, for it was dangerous even for me to be there. But seeing that I had the instinct of a reporter, of a photographer, I went in there and took the risk. But I quickly fled from there for the sight was not a pleasant one.

Q. Mr. Ross, you were a photographer in the ghetto?

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, what is the position? Will this witness be able to complete his testimony in a short while?

Attorney General: I am not sure, Your Honour. The witness was a photographer and I want to submit a number of the illegal photographs he took. The legal pictures are not in our possession. I would like him to identify them and explain them. This can take about half an hour.

Presiding Judge: We shall continue with this evidence in the afternoon, and thereafter we shall hear the application of Dr. Servatius for hearing witnesses from abroad.

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