The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 25
(Part 7 of 8)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Did you also join the action?

A. No, we were far away. But we saw it all. From this I learned something which I had already guessed, and we learned it subsequently, in the days of the April revolt as well, not to be drawn into street fighting. Only after we heard the explanation of Mordechai Anilewicz...

Q. Did you see the whole action?

A. We saw the action, and afterwards we saw the escape and how they disappeared. Later on we saw a wooden hut where the Germans buried three fighters who were captured by them and murdered. Mordechai Anilewicz was saved and returned after two or three days; he was saved by simple Jews at the last moment. But he was one of the few that were saved - the rest of the fighters fought until the last minute, and this is no mere manner of speaking - up to the last minute.

For this reason we decided to take other steps, partisan tactics and to fight in the houses.

Q. The underground prepared a plan of resistance, what to do. There were various suggestions. Was there once a plan to set fire to the ghetto and be burned alive?

A. Yes.

Q. You did not accept this suggestion?

A. That was in September 1942.

Q. Why didn't you agree to the suggestion?

A. This was the most dramatic and decisive evening in the life of the underground. We young people were those who had remained out of one hundred and twenty thousand Jews who had been taken off to their deaths; of those who had been brought in and concentrated together, 60,000 had been taken to their deaths. We were fighters, Halutzim, we remained alive. There was a feeling of shame. We felt ashamed for ourselves. Hence, there were comrades who said, since a few days before our meagre arms had been taken by the Germans, at the operation on 3 September, and on that day two members of our headquarters had fallen - Shmuel Breslaw and Josef Kaplan, and we again were left as in the days of the "Rounding-up," without anything - these comrades said that we ought to perform some final act, to take petrol and paraffin, burn the ghetto and to go up in flames with it.

Q. Why didn't you do this?

A. I was the one who opposed it. I didn't earn much honour for myself that night. But I insisted on my point of view that if we had survived - there was no sense or purpose in selling our lives so cheaply. If it was true that we could gain hours, days or months - we ought to promise ourselves that nothing would be too difficult in order to acquire arms and to fight with arms.

Q. Let us go back again to January. Did the January operation pass by completely without repercussions on the part of the Germans?

A. In my opinion the repercussions were great, and even greater in the eyes of the Jews and the Poles. We in our group - those of us whom they didn't manage to capture - fought in the houses throughout two days. The position was such, that the group was small, about 40 persons, and only some of them were armed - we were easily able to circulate amongst the houses, on the roofs. And it seemed to the Germans that several groups were operating; in fact they were small units. We obtained arms, we also killed Germans, we also took their arms from them, we obtained both hand grenades and rifles, this was important to us. And the last thing that we received - the faith that we knew how to fight.

Q. You found a way to reach the other side through the sewage canals, is that right?

A. It took a long time before we found it. This was one of the mistakes of the Jewish fighting force - that for months we burnt all the bridges - we didn't prepare maps.

Q. But finally you found it?

A. We found a man who led us there.

Q. Who had the plans of the sewage system?

A. Yes.

Q. And this was afterwards the means of communication or one of the means?

A. Twice we took people out, once from the Toebbens-Schultz area on 29 April or 1 May, and the second time on 10 May in the morning in Prosta Street - the fighters of the central ghetto.

Q. You decided to spend Passover 1943 on the other side? Not inside the ghetto?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You did not know that an operation would take place?

A. I was on the other side for six days, without documents, alone and not accustomed to being on the Aryan side. Afterwards it came to my knowledge that amongst our comrades in the ghetto there had been a feeling that something was about to happen, but I knew nothing. I arranged with the messenger Frania Beatus, a girl aged 17, to go in the morning of 19 April to the wall of the ghetto in order to contact a Jewish policeman, a member of the underground, and say that I was about to join up with a work party that was coming in. But on 19 April at seven in the morning she returned, crying bitterly and said: "All is lost." She said she was going to commit suicide.

Q. Did the Waffen SS enter the ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. You were on the Aryan side and were unable to enter?

A. The entire ghetto was surrounded - the streets were sealed off.

Q. What did you do on the other side when the ghetto was fighting?

A. I explained previously that I only managed to be on the Aryan side for six days. I had set out without money since they were going to forward it to me. I had not yet found our contacts. Throughout the many months the person who fulfilled this task was our envoy on the Aryan side, Arie Wilner, but he was captured by the Gestapo during an arms transaction. We remained for many months without any contact with the Polish underground. One day they informed us that if we didn't want the salt to come after the food, that is to say if we wanted that the help should come not after the revolt - it was essential that someone should come immediately to the other side of Warsaw.

And so I went to the Aryan side of Warsaw, and I had to begin looking for contacts. It is true that I found there Adolf Berman, but his contacts were with parties and with organizations for rescuing Jews, and I needed the military contacts. On the first day we acquired 22 rifles. The rifles were given by the Armia Ludova.

Q. How did you pass them on to the ghetto?

A. We couldn't pass them on, but transmitted information that they were in our possession. We planned to send them by means of the "Pinkertowey,"* {* A family of undertakers in the Warsaw Ghetto.} the workers in the Jewish cemetery, since we in the early days established contacts through these "Pinkertowey," we thought that a way of transferring the arms in could be in coffins, but we didn't succeed.

Q. Did you receive a letter from Mordechai Anilewicz?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. I hand it to you. Is this the original letter that you received?

A. No, Sir.

Q. Was the original letter written in Hebrew?

A. The original letter was written to me in Hebrew.

Q. How did he send it to you?

A. He sent it through the "Pinkertowey." This was a reply to a letter that I managed to pass on. I translated it - and this is my handwriting - into Yiddish - so as to give it to others who didn't know Hebrew.

Attorney General: May I be permitted to ask the Court to hear the contents of the letter. I wish to submit it, and I would ask the witness also to read at least two passages.

Witness Zuckerman: I selected two matters from the text. There was one part in which there was something secret regarding arms, something of actual importance at the time; and another part which was private - concerning Zivia who was there and which had no public interest. Dr. Berman translated it into Polish, and it was broadcast on the underground radio.

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit T/255.

Attorney General: This is our No. 1593. [To the witness] Please read it.

Witness Zuckerman: He writes in Hebrew, and this has been translated into Yiddish. He asks me to pass on...

Presiding Judge: You may read it in Yiddish. It will be translated.

[The witness reads the letter in Yiddish.]

Presiding Judge: What are the words in Polish?

Witness Zuckerman: To the best of my knowledge the Polish words were written by Dr. Berman, who was then on the Aryan side, apparently in order to translate the letter into Polish for the radio. This letter has been translated into Hebrew in the book Fighters of the Ghetto.

Attorney General: And now please read the Hebrew translation.

Witness Zuckerman: "23 April 1943. Shalom Yitzhak. I don't know what to write to you. I'll waive personal details this time. I have only one expression to convey my feelings and those of my comrades. Something has occurred which is beyond our wildest dreams. Twice the Germans fled from the ghetto. One of our squads held out for 40 minutes, and the second - for more than six hours. The mine which had been buried in the brushmakers' area exploded. On our side only one victim has so far fallen: Yehiel, he fell as a heroic soldier beside his machine gun.

"When the news reached us yesterday, that members of the P.P.R. attacked the Germans and that the Schweitz radio station broadcast the wonderful news about our self-defence, I had a feeling of completeness. Although we still have much work to do, everything that has been done so far was done to perfection.

"The general situation: All the workshops in the ghetto and outside it were closed, except for "Werterfassung," "Transavia" and "Dering." Regarding the situation with Schultz and Toebbens, I have no information. Communications have been cut off. The workshop of the brushmakers has been in flames for three days. I have no contacts with the units. There are many fires in the ghetto. Yesterday the hospital was burning. Whole blocks of buildings are in flames. The police has been disbanded, except the "Werterfassung." Schmerling surfaced and has reappeared. Lichtenbaum has been released from the Umschlag. Not many people have been taken out of the ghetto. This is not the case with the "Shops." I don't have details.

By day we sit in our hideouts. From evening we change to the partisan method of activity. Three of our units go out at night - with two objectives: armed patrols and obtaining arms. You should know - a revolver is of no value, we have hardly made use of it. What we need are: grenades, rifles, machine guns and explosives. I cannot describe to you the conditions under which Jews are living. Only a few chosen ones will hold out. All the others will perish sooner or later.

Our fate has been sealed. In all the bunkers where our comrades are hiding, it is impossible to light a candle at night for lack of air...of all our units in the ghetto only one man is missing: Yehiel. Even this is a victory. I don't know what else I should write to you. I can imagine to myself that you have one question after another, but this time please let this suffice. Be well, my friend, perhaps we shall meet again. The main thing: the dream of my life has been fulfilled. I was privileged to see Jewish self-defence in the ghetto in all its greatness and magnificence. Mordechai."

Q. So now you were on the Aryan side of Warsaw, Mr. Zuckerman, seeking ways how to transfer arms, seeking a link, contacts with the fighting ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. Did it take time until you discovered the maps of the sewage canals?

A. Yes, not maps, it was a man who came, who remembered it; he was a city cleaning worker, connected with the Armia Ludova.

Q. But you were no longer able to smuggle many arms?

A. We scarcely managed to smuggle in arms at all, but we maintained our connections by telephone, and by means of runners who reached us from the ghetto.

Q. Now tell us about your activities, and with this we shall conclude.

A. After I received the news we went to see what could be done. After searching around I made contact with the Armia Krajova and the Armia Ludova. There were very difficult meetings with the representatives of the Armia Krajova. I met one of their representatives.

Q. What did you request from them?

A. I requested arms. He introduced himself as Grenadier Karol. As I learned later, he was a major, I think he was Yanishewski. I told him the ghetto was isolated, and I asked for arms. He said that the ghetto was a base of Bolsheviks. I told him that his information was not correct, that I myself, who was an officer, was a member of Hehalutz, and that most of the units were members of the Halutz movements, and that we didn't ask a Jew who he was when he came to fight. We wanted to know if he wished to fight. I didn't receive the arms, but he suggested to me - this was on 21 April or possibly 20 April - he suggested to me to bring the fighters out of the ghetto.

This was not my task. My task was to strengthen the spirit of the fighters with arms. But I said to him that I sincerely requested that they should prepare houses and also forests for the partisans. Some time later I learned from a man who guided me, a Pole, a member of the scouts, Heniek - this Heniek fell during the Polish rebellion in 1944 elsewhere in Warsaw - he wanted to let me know through his comrade Irena Adamowicz that Heniek had killed this major with his owns hands.

At that time it emerged that he was collaborating with the Germans. I encountered a different attitude on the part of the Armia Ludova, and forthwith, on the same day, I believe it was 19 April, I received from them 22 or 25 rifles. But I had no way of transferring them, and they weren't able to help me. Afterwards it became apparent that a simple thing like a map of the sewage canals was not in the possession of the Armia Ludova, even in 1944, at the time of the Polish rebellion. And we, the Jewish unit, were obliged, within a few days, to be experts on the sewage canals.

Q. Afterwards the bitter task fell to your lot to extricate the remnants of the fighters?

A. Yes - we tried several times - in the same way as messengers reached us from the ghetto, thus we tried on many occasions to send our people into the ghetto.

But they used to return from this labyrinth, this blind alley. Sometimes they got as far as the Vistula, sometimes elsewhere. They had no orientation of how to get into the sewage canals - until one day, - one of our runners - afterwards our chief runner - Simcha (today Rotem), took this matter into his own hands. And after making several attempts, he succeeded on 8 May in entering the ghetto. But this was a short time after the central bunker, with Mordechai Anilewicz in charge of more than one hundred fighters, fell in defence of the bunker, at Mila 18.

He also encountered a delegation of desperate fighters that arrived at that moment. They were sent back and it was necessary to take advantage of the last hours of the night. By dawn everyone had to be in the bunkers, and those that managed went into the bunkers. There were still three groups remaining in the ghetto and I know from the Polish underground, from Polish labourers, who subsequently worked there, who destroyed the ghetto, that for several months up to the end of 1943 Jewish fighters fell; and I don't know when, and how, the last Jewish fighters fell.

Q. It took months?

A. Many months.

Q. After you took the fighters out, did you organize yourselves as an underground on the Aryan side?

A. Yes.

Q. You issued leaflets?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you possess one of the leaflets in Polish?

A. Yes. This is a leaflet of the Jewish National Committee published in 1944 on the second anniversary of the murder of the Jews of Warsaw on 22 August.

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