The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 30
(Part 4 of 7)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Presiding Judge: How did you survive all this killing?

Attorney General: She will tell it all in her own words.

Presiding Judge: Very well, only please lead her somewhat.

Witness Yoselewska: We were lined up in fours. We stood there naked. Our clothing was taken away. My father didn't want to undress completely and kept on his underwear. When he was lined up for the shooting and was told to undress, he refused; he was beaten. We begged him: "Take off your clothes. Enough of suffering." No. He insisted on dying in his underwear.

Q. And then the Germans tore it off?

A. They tore his things off and shot him.

Q. And he fell into the pit?

A. I saw it. Then they took Mother. She didn't want to go, but wanted us to go first. Yet we made her go first. They grabbed her and shot her. There was my father's mother who was 80 with two grandchildren in her arms. My father's sister was also there. She, too, was shot with children in her arms.

Q. Then your turn came?

A. Then my turn came. My younger sister also. She had suffered so much in the ghetto, and yet at the last moment she wanted to stay alive, and begged the German to let her live. She was standing there naked holding on to her girl friend. So he looked at her and shot them both. Both of them fell, my sister and her girl friend. My other sister was next. Then he got ready to shoot me.

Q. Did he ask for something?

A. We stood there facing the ditch. I turned my head. He asked, "Whom do I shoot first?" I didn't answer. He tore the child away from me. I heard her last cry and he shot her. Then he got ready to kill me, grabbed my hair and turned my head about. I remained standing and heard a shot but I didn't move. He turned me around, loaded his pistol, so that I could see what he was doing. Then he again turned me around and shot me. I fell down.

Q. And then you fell into the pit?

A. I felt nothing. At that moment I felt that something was weighing me down. I thought that I was dead, but that I could feel something even though I was dead. I couldn't believe that I was alive. I felt I was suffocating, bodies had fallen on me. I felt I was drowning. But still I could move and felt I was alive and tried to get up. I was choking, I heard shots, and again somebody falling down. I twisted and turned, but I could not. I felt I was going to suffocate. I had no strength left.

But then I felt that somehow I was crawling upwards. As I climbed up, people grabbed me, hit me, dragged me downwards, but I pulled myself up with the last bit of strength. When I reached the top I looked around but I couldn't recognize the place. Corpses strewn all over, there was no end to the bodies. You could hear people moaning in their death agony. Some children were running around naked and screaming "Mama, Papa." I couldn't get up.

Presiding Judge: The Germans were still there, at that time?

Witness Yoselewska: No. The Germans were not there. No one was there.

Attorney General: You were naked and covered with blood.

Witness Yoselewska: I got out naked covered with blood from the corpses whose bellies had burst.

Q. What did you have on your head?

A. When he shot me I was wounded in the head. I still have a big scar on my head, where I was wounded by the Germans.

[The witness shows the scar.]

I got to my feet to see that horrible scene. The screaming was unbearable, the children shouting Mama, Papa. I ran over to the children, maybe my daughter was there. I called out "Markele." I didn't see her. The children shouted "Mama," "Papa." I didn't recognize the children either. All of them were covered with blood.

Q. There were three other women?

A. Further off I saw two women standing up. I walked over to them. I didn't know them and they didn't know me. We asked each other for our names. Then they said: "You're alive, too. You also survived?" "What should we do?" At the far end a woman shouted for help with outstretched arms and asked to be saved, to be pulled out from the corpses, she was suffocating.

Q. You pulled her out. She was Ita Rosenberg.

A. We walked up to her, Ita Rosenberg, and pulled her out of the mass of corpses who were pulling and dragging her down and biting her. She asked us to pull harder; we didn't have any strength left.

Q. Please let us be brief, Mrs. Yoselewska. It is difficult to recount and difficult to listen to. Tell us, did you hide?

A. We struggled all night long and all day screaming and shouting. Looking around, we saw Germans again and people with hoses and shovels. The Germans ordered the gentiles to pile all the corpses together in one place. So they did. A lot were still alive. The children were all running around in the field. As I was walking I saw them and went over to them. The children were running after me and wouldn't leave. I sat down in the field and remained there.

Q. The Germans came back and rounded up the children?

A. Germans came and helped round up the children. They left me alone. I just sat and looked. There was no need for much shooting at the children. They fired some shots and children fell down. The Rosenberg girl begged the Germans to let her live; they shot her, too.

The local people went away. The Germans drove away. They left the truck with the belongings standing there overnight.

Q. Mrs. Yoselewska, after they had left the place, you approached the grave and just sat there?

A. When I saw they were gone I dragged myself over to the grave and wanted to jump in. I thought the grave would open up and let me fall inside alive. I envied everyone for whom it was already over, while I was still alive. Where should I go? What should I do? Blood was spouting. Nowadays, when I pass a water fountain I can still see the blood spouting from the grave. The earth rose and heaved. I sat there on the grave and tried to dig my way in with my hands. I continued digging as hard as I could. The earth didn't open up. I shouted to Mother and Father, why I was left alive. What did I do to deserve this. Where shall I go? To whom can I turn? I have nobody. I saw everything; I saw everybody killed. No one answered. I remained sprawled on the grave three days and three nights.

Q. And then a shepherd passed by?

A. Three days and three nights I didn't see anybody. None of the peasants passed by. Three days later I saw men driving their cattle along the road. They threw stones at me. I remained lying there and didn't move. Towards evening they returned with the cattle. And again they threw stones at me. They must have thought I was either a corpse or insane. They wanted me to answer them, but I didn't move. Since they passed with the cattle day and night I had to get out of that place.

Q. And then a peasant passed by and took pity on you?

A. I remained not far from the grave. A peasant saw me. I had been wandering around there for several weeks. He saw me.

Q. He took pity on you and gave you food, and then you joined a group of Jews in the forest and stayed with them till the Soviets came?

A. Till the end I stayed with them.

Q. And now you are married and you have two children?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Do you have any questions to the witness, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mrs. Yoselewska, you have completed your testimony.

Attorney General: By the Court's leave, at this stage the testimonies of witnesses on the extermination in the East have been completed. I wish to submit some dozens of documents as evidence of the connection of the Accused with the acts committed in that region. First of all, a document known as "Wetzel's Letter." This is a well-known document cited in other court proceedings and addressed by the official of this name in the Ministry for Occupied Eastern Territories on the 25 October 1941 to the Reichskommissar for the Eastern territory. This is our document No. 42.

Presiding Judge: Are these documents related to what happened in the East?

Attorney General: All of it serves to complete the submission of proof regarding the responsibility of the Accused for activities in the East, both in their general aspect and finally individual cases he himself dealt with. The original is even signed by the Accused certifying that the document has been shown to him and that he was asked to respond to it, on page 2413 ff. of his statement. He indeed admitted there that the details as described in the letter are correct.

Presiding Judge: This will be Exhibit T/308.

Attorney General: In this letter Wetzel informs the Reichskommissar that he has arranged with Brack of the Fuehrer's Chancellery the supply of appliances for execution by gassing. In his letter he further draws attention to the fact that Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, who is in charge of matters concerning Jews in the Head Office for Reich Security, has agreed to this proposal, and according to information received from Eichmann the Jews will be transported to camps to be established in Riga and Minsk. Jews of the "Old Reich" could also be taken there. Towards the end he says - so Wetzel concludes - I begin with the words: "Auf diese Weise" (In this way).

Judge Halevi: It may be worthwhile to read out the preceding sentence.

Attorney General: Very well.

"According to circumstances there are no longer any objections to Jews unfit for work to be liquidated by means of Brack's appliances. In this way events like those that took place during the killing of Jews by gunfire in Vilna will be avoided. But those fit for work will be deported for labour in the East."
We have something that was attached to it written by hand, if Your Honour will look at the handwritten notes following the document. We have deciphered these notes.

Presiding Judge: This is missing here.

Attorney General: I can give you mine.

Presiding Judge: It is missing in the original.

Attorney General: Actually I can submit the original signed by the Accused. That will complete the document that Your Honour has before you. It is a transcript of his handwriting. Your Honour will see that the matter has been settled and finalized.

Presiding Judge: The supplement will be marked Exhibit T/308a.

Judge Halevi: The handwriting is difficult to decipher.

Attorney General: We have deciphered it and the typed version is before the Presiding Judge.

Presiding Judge: Do you have another copy?

Attorney General: Unfortunately not. The Court may peruse the transcribed copy in document T/37 (188) presented to the Accused. His name is mentioned again in connection with the scheme for the extermination of Jews by the use of gas, because direct shooting ought to be avoided.

Judge Raveh: Whose handwriting is it?

Attorney General: I don't know. The question concerned killing by gas in motor vans. They are the same vans which the Accused admitted having seen in which Jews were killed. The Court may remember this part of the statement we played back.

Presiding Judge: Was this with Globocnik?

Attorney General: No, this was in the Chelmno region. He stated that he saw naked Jews being loaded into these vans, gas being pumped in, and then the vans moved off; he described how the doors were opened and what the bodies looked like. Apparently these vans didn't always function properly. There is a document containing criticism, complaints, and requests for repairs and supply of spare parts. This is our document No. 1099. It is from the Nuremberg proceedings.

Presiding Judge: This will be Exhibit T/309.

Attorney General: It refers to vans for special treatment (Sonderbehandlung). The Court will see extensive correspondence concerning their condition and their disguise. On typed page 2 the subject is camouflage. They painted the vans like small houses with windows so that people could be duped and go in willingly. As mentioned before, we do not possess the central archives of the Gestapo. In this matter we rely on correspondence kept in other archives.

Here is a document dated 5 March 1943 addressed by IVB4 to Einsatzgruppen B and D, Commander of the Sicherheitspolizei Kiev; at that time the Einsatzgruppen already belonged to the Sicherheitspolizei, as the Court has heard from one of the witnesses. This communication went to Krakow, Riga, Mogilev and Kiev. Subject: Treatment of Jews of foreign nationality in the Generalgouvernement and in the occupied Eastern areas. At the end it says that the letter is a follow-up of a previous directive dated 30 September 1942, also issued by IVB4. But we do not have the letter of 30 September, only this one. And what is the directive - although it bears Kaltenbrunner's signature - concerning the treatment of Jews of foreign nationality in the occupied areas of the East? "To remove any doubt on questions that arose, I have to advise that Jews of nationality of the following foreign countries [here follows a list of the countries] and Jews without nationality are to be included in measures generally applied, or about to be applied, against them in that area."

Department IVB4 remarks at the end: "I reserve the right to issue further instructions in due course." In other words, they issue instructions concerning Jews to the Einsatzgruppen, to the Generalgouvernement, to the Commanders of the Sicherheitspolizei in the occupied areas of the East.

Presiding Judge: This will be Exhibit T/310.

Attorney General: I turn to our document No. 1105, which relates to the previous document.

The Foreign Ministry Representative in the Ostland dwells again on the question of how to deal with Jews of foreign nationality. He is against taking Jews of those countries into consideration for an exchange with other foreign nationals, because they are likely to spread news in foreign countries which will serve as anti-German horror propaganda, if indeed they would enter the countries of exchange. Towards the end he states: "Since in the course of time many local Jews and Jews from the Reich have been killed by gunfire in the Riga zone, as is well known, it seems doubtful whether any Jews could be taken into consideration for exchange purposes. They would use the killings for the purpose of propaganda against us abroad. The quota of such Jews could not be filled from the Eastern territory."

Judge Halevi: What is the name of the signatory?

Attorney General: This is from the Commander of the Security Police.

Presiding Judge: The signature here is that of Windecker.

Judge Halevi: It says: Representative of the Foreign Ministry.

Attorney General: Representative of the Foreign Ministry at the Reichskommissar fuer das Ostland. Various ministries had representatives to the Kommissars.

Presiding Judge: Liaison Officers. The document will be Exhibit T/311.

Attorney General: Here is the testimony of Ohlendorf before the International Military Court. Our No. 776. He also mentions the killings by gas vans; he recounts that Stahlecker was head of Operations Group A; Nebe, of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt, Chief of Office V, was head of Operations Group B; at first Rasch was Chief of Operations Group C, and afterwards Thomas. Ohlendorf himself was Chief of Operations Group D. He states plainly that Himmler had declared that one of their important tasks was the liquidation of Jews, men, women and children, and of Communist Party officials. This instruction was given four weeks before the attack against Russia.

He describes how he organized matters, how the victims were forced to hand over their valuables, how they were made to undress and were taken to places of execution. In his Group he was opposed to killings being carried out by one man since he did not want a particular person to bear direct responsibility. He, therefore, issued orders for a whole squad to shoot together. He had seen Stahlecker's report on the killing of 135,000 Jews and Communists by Operations Group A during the first four months. "I knew Stahlecker personally" - Ohlendorf states - and I believe that the document is authentic. Stahlecker's report is before you, Your Honour, it is Exhibit No. 302. And now to the reports of the Operations Groups. Here I have to say something in advance. There are dozens of such reports. We shall not submit all of them, just some of them.

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