The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 24
(Part 3 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: The Court will notice that there are complaints about the fact that the transfer of 20,000 Jews and 5,000 gypsies to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto would interfere with the sewing-workshops and armaments factories in the ghetto. This is an intervention by the German Army: "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht." The following document is our No. 1546. This is a reply to General Thomas on the same subject: "The Jews have been transferred."

Presiding Judge: This document will be exhibit T/244.

Attorney General: Himmler gave it his support.

The next document is our No. 1089. Mueller writes to the German Foreign Ministry and passes on to it an anonymous letter received in the Foreign Ministry in connection with the solution of the Jewish question in the Warthegau, and draws its attention to the fact that "'where you cut wood, that is where the chips fall,' and the Jewish enemy will always try to exaggerate as much as possible the measures being taken against him in the hope of arousing pity and to achieve the cancellation of these steps. Since they began taking action against this enemy, he has been trying by means of anonymous letters to avoid the destiny that is appropriate to him." The document came from IVB4.

Presiding Judge: This document will be T/245.

Attorney General: Our next document is No. 1547, the letter of a mother in Brussels "An meinen Fuehrer Adolf Hitler" pleading for her children who have been sent to Litzmannstadt. The Court has before it the mother's own handwriting addressing her Fuehrer. The reply is from IVB4 signed by Adolf Eichmann: "For reasons of principle I am unable to comply with the application of Maria Schwarz for the return of her children from the Ghetto of Litzmannstadt."

Presiding Judge: Was this woman a Jewess?

Attorney General: Judging from the contents of the letter she is not Jewish. The children's father is a Jew. She is a German woman and she turns to "her Fuehrer."

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit T/246.

Attorney General: And now I pass on to two documents dealing with the liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Document No. 943 is the minutes of a meeting at which there was an examination as to whether the existence of the ghetto is economically justified. Eichmann participated here on behalf of Kaltenbrunner. So it says. They dealt with the question of leaving the children or sending them away.

Presiding Judge: This document will be exhibit T/247.

Attorney General: As a supplement to this, a report was drawn up by Dr. Max Horn, the business manager of "Ost- Industrie" - that institution which I have mentioned - "Osti." Our document is No. 944. Horn writes to Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl supplementing his report jointly with Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann: "The enterprises in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto were examined once again." And in the second paragraph it says - I read from the German original - "Die Betriebe der Litzmannstaedter Ghetto sind unwirtschaftlich" ("The enterprises of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto are not economically viable").

Presiding Judge: This document will be exhibit T/248.

Attorney General: The suggestion is to convert the Litzmannstadt Ghetto into a concentration camp.

The following document is No. 945. A decision is taken not to convert the Litzmannstadt Ghetto into a concentration camp, but to reduce the number of Jewish inhabitants to the minimum essential for operating the armaments' factories.

Presiding Judge: Who wrote this? The previous letter was addressed to Pohl. Is the present one again to Pohl. It is Greiser.

Attorney General: Yes, the writer was Greiser.

Presiding Judge: Was he the Governor of the Warthegau?

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: This document will be exhibit T/249.

Attorney General: And now, with the Court's permission, I call Mrs. Esther Shiloh.

Presiding Judge: [To witness] Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Shiloh: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Esther Shiloh.

Attorney General: Where do you live?

Witness Shiloh: I live in Givatayim, at 101 Rehov Katzenelson.

Q. You were born in 1925, and therefore, when the War broke out, you were 14 years of age?

A. Correct.

Q. You were then living in Lodz?

A. Correct.

Q. You have parents and a brother?

A. I had parents and two brothers.

Q. I beg your pardon. Were you the only member of the family who remained alive?

A. I survived, and after the War I found my brother. We met after I had returned from the concentration camps, to the same place, to Lodz, to see whether we could, perhaps, find some other members of the family.

Q. Kindly answer my questions. Your parents and your other brother perished?

A. Yes.

Q. Mrs. Shiloh, you were transferred, together with your parents, to the ghetto when it was opened?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When was the ghetto established?

A. In 1940.

Q. Your father was a mechanical engineer and you studied at a Hebrew School and were a member of a Zionist youth movement?

A. Correct.

Q. Who appears in this picture? When was it taken? [Shows the witness a photograph.]

A. The picture is of one of the memorial meetings which I remember - of a memorial day for Bialik and Herzl.

Q. In what year was this?

A. This was roughly a short time before the last deportation in which my family and I were sent to Auschwitz.

Q. Was this in 1943 or 1944?

A. In 1944.

Q. And so you arranged a memorial meeting for Bialik and Herzl?

A. Correct.

Q. The pictures of Bialik and Herzl here - was this the memorial meeting for the 20th and 21st of Tamuz?* {*1The anniversaries of Theodor Herzl and Haim Nahman Bialik according to the Jewish calendar.}

A. Correct.

Q. The years shown here are the years of the deaths of Bialik and Herzl. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You are sitting here with your friends, wearing the yellow badge, and all of you are smiling. Why are you smiling?

A. Because, at the time, I said to my companions: Lift up your heads. In spite of the hunger and the cold, and despite the poverty and the suffering and the degradation, let us raise a smile on our lips, in order that we should be able to raise our morale and believe in a better tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow will bring freedom and we shall be liberated. And then they were so impressed that they smiled.

Presiding Judge: Were you then one of the chief spokesmen of this group?

Witness Shiloh: Yes.

Attorney General: I submit this picture, and this is all I wanted from this witness.

Presiding Judge: In what year was this?

Witness Shiloh: It was a short time before the final deportation.

Q. Which means?

A. This means that it was on the same date of the memorial ceremony for Bialik and Herzl.

Q. Very well, that is the date. But in what year?

A. 1944.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, have you seen this picture?

Dr. Servatius: I have already seen it from a distance. That is sufficient for me.

Presiding Judge: Do you have any questions to the witness.

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

Presiding Judge: Thank you Mrs. Shiloh. That is the end of your evidence.

Attorney General: The next witness is Dr. Josef Buzminsky. We shall again need the interpreter Advocate Riftin.

[The witness is sworn in Polish.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Josef Buzminsky.

Attorney General: Do you live in Tel Aviv, 128 Rehov Ahad Ha- am?

Witness Buzminsky: Yes.

Q. You are a doctor?

A. Yes.

Q. When the Second World War broke out were you in Przemysl?

A. Yes.

Q. You were saved thanks to a woman who hid you, who is now your wife, and who is a Polish woman living with you in Israel.

A. Yes. We were fifteen people whom she saved.

Q. Let us go back to the beginning, Dr. Buzminsky. When the German Army entered your town in 1941, let us skip the first events and come to the period when the civil administration reached Przemysl. What happened in the autumn of 1941?

A. In autumn 1941 all the Jews were ordered to move into the ghetto, and failure to comply with this order was punished by death.

Q. You moved to the ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. After this, the "Ordnungsdienst" (Order Services) was set up. What was that?

A. When the Jews were transferred to the ghetto, the Ordnungsdienstwas organized, with the object of maintaining order in the ghetto and bringing the Jews to the gates from there they were transported to work by the SS and the "Schutz - " the militia.

Q. What was your work?

A. I was engaged in hard physical work, in the loading of coal on to railway waggons, and in excavations. We were employed by an organization called "H.V. - Herren Unterkunft Verwaltung." I worked twelve hours a day without a stop. In exchange for this we received only a little soup which consisted of dirty water containing pieces of turnip and cabbage with worms.

Q. Was there starvation in the ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. How did the people obtain food?

A. There were food ration-cards for workers and for non- workers. The workers received approximately 200 grams of bread which was mixed with remnants of sawdust. 200 grams was the weight of a small slice. Those who didn't work received 100 grams. Sometimes we used to receive potatoes which were rotten, or some of the turnips and cabbage, or flour that was full of worms.

Q. Did disease break out?

A. There was typhus in the camp. People fell victim to it. There were no medicines except in a very limited quantity. Injections against typhus could only be obtained at the price of gold; a person had to pay everything he possessed, otherwise it was impossible to obtain them. People died of hunger. In the street one could see people swollen or emaciated to the shape of a skeleton dying before one's eyes.

Q. Did executions take place in the ghetto?

A. Yes. In June 1942 there was the first organized operation of deportation of a thousand youths to the Janowska camp at Lwow. An SS man, Rokita, came especially to demand from the Jewish Council a thousand fit young men.

Q. Your brother was among those taken away with them - your brother Isidor - is that correct?

A. Yes, he was taken to that camp, and two months later he was put to death in the camp by being hanged by the legs and beaten to death. At that time my sister, who went to Lwow in order to rescue him, was recognized in the street and shot. In July 1942 came the second deportation operation.

Q. After the first deportation "action," did they tell you anything as to whether any further operations would take place?

A. They said there would be a transfer of population to another place, where there would be more food, a more comfortable place of residence and work for wages.

Q. Now please continue: what was the second operation?

A. There were German notices instructing the inmates of the sections that had been cut off by the partition of the ghetto, that these people should come to the Umschlagplatz (the transfer site). Everyone had to take with him his personal belongings, including gold and jewellery, food for three days and baggage which should not exceed 10 kgs. Anyone disobeying would be shot.

At that time the people did not yet know that the purpose of this operation was extermination. Complete families, with their children, and with their baggage, gathered in the transfer square. At that time there were more than 20,000 Jews in the ghetto who had been living in there, and they had begun to bring Jews from the surroundings.

In August, a month after the first operation there was a second operation. There were the same notices, the ghetto was cut off, a selection took place and on this occasion people were given stamped certificates called "stamps of life," that is to say they determined that this person was capable of working or not.

Q. So then you knew already what "stamps of life" meant and what was the meaning of "transport."

A. Yes.

Q. Where did these transports go, Dr. Buzminsky?

A. All the deportations were to Belzec. From the first deportation, a few who had jumped from the train returned and they warned people in the second operation that the same thing awaited them. People began to hide themselves. But many went to the square in the normal manner.

Q. What is the meaning of "normal" - of their own free will?

A. In other words, they obeyed the order.

Q. Why?

A. Some of them believed what they had heard; others did not believe. They could not believe that Germans were putting healthy people to death.

Q. Please go on: what did you want to tell about the second operation?

A. At the time of the second operation I saw how they brought a certain well-known doctor, an old man, Dr. Grebstein, who had once been a colonel in the Austrian army. He showed them photographs and his diploma certifying that he was a colonel; he thought that this would save him. The SS men - I saw this with my own eyes - laughed, beat him to death and tore the diploma to pieces.

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