The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 34
(Part 1 of 8)

eichmann, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, eichmann trial,
	holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No. 34

24 Iyar 5721 (10 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the thirty-fourth Session of the trial open. Please continue Mr. Bach.

State Attorney Bach: The Court will remember that in the last document we presented yesterday, Bargen reported to the Foreign Ministry that 15,000 Jews had been deported.

The next document is our No. 1072. Here the same Bargen describes transport difficulties which have caused a temporary interruption in the deportations, but he hopes that these will be resumed shortly and then "when the deportations are renewed it is intended to get rid of all the Jews of Belgian nationality, too" - this is the innovation here - "who number approximately 4,000 persons. Their turn will, however, only come after all the foreign Jews have been deported."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/516.

State Attorney Bach: I should now like to submit two documents for the purpose of demonstrating who really exercised control over the decisions concerning the deportation of the Jews.

The first document is our No. 700. Here Bargen asks the Foreign Ministry what will become of Jews who have to return to Italy by 31 March 1943. He asks whether to deport these Jews or those Jews who will not return to Italy before that date. He requests instructions from the Foreign Ministry.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/517.

State Attorney Bach: The reply is contained in our document No. 701 and it reads: "The introduction of the general measures against the Jews lies in the hands of the local representative of the SD. The Foreign Ministry informs the Head Office for Reich Security whenever there is no objection to the application of the general measures against the Jews to foreign nationals. This has not yet been done in respect of the Italian Jews, but it is to be assumed that it will be done after 31 March 1943."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/518.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 1446. It is a document originating with the local Gestapo office. Your Honour asked yesterday whether we had such documents, too. This really is a document that went out over the signature of Erdmann, who was at that time the local representative in Brussels, and it describes the operation against the Belgian Jews of the night between 3 and 4 September 1943. I shall only read one sentence.

Presiding Judge: [pointing to a batch of documents] What is this, Mr. Bach?

State Attorney Bach: I think this is a batch of documents to which the one I am presenting now also belongs. These are documents which were conveyed to us from Belgium, and the document I have just submitted is marked with a special slip.

Presiding Judge: Which will be the exhibit? Both of them?

State Attorney Bach: I am prepared to submit this batch. Afterwards we may submit a separate photocopy of document No. 1446.

Presiding Judge: Your document No. 1446 will be marked T/519, and I shall not mark this batch for the time being.

State Attorney Bach: Thank you, Your Honour.

It says here:

"The seizure of the Belgian Jews 'fuer den Osteinsatz' (for the effort in the East), which has been demanded by the Head Office for Reich Security, will be started for the first time with a major operation during the night from 3 to 4 September 1943. The operation is to take place simultaneously, along exactly the same lines, in Antwerp. The other field offices, which dispose over a very small number of Jews only, will be informed about the impending operation and asked also to begin arresting Jews of Belgian nationality as soon as possible."
And now there follows a list of technical instructions on the implementation, the number of cars to be used, who is to remain behind in the office. I shall not tire you by reading these passages. At the end the property is dealt with:
"The Foreign Currency Control Detachment will occupy the homes of the Jews at one stroke, will instruct the residents to ready their luggage and will begin to search for, and secure, valuable property of importance to the Foreign Currency Control Detachment. SS Obersturmfuehrer Asche" - the local representative of the Accused - "together with two members of the guard squad and two drivers of the Foreign Currency Control Detachment will be in charge of the deportation of the Jews detained in their homes by the Foreign Currency Control Detachment."
These documents, together with a list of documents I already submitted in connection with the chapter on the holocaust of the Jews of France, and others which I shall still hand to the Court, describe in fact in general terms the process of the expulsion of the Belgian Jews. I should only like to request leave from the Court, instead of presenting the testimony of a witness who would appear here before you, to submit to the Court the sworn statement of a Belgian Jew, an advocate at the Court of Appeal in Brussels named Felix Gutmacher, who sent us a sworn statement describing in general terms what happened to him. He testifies about his arrest, about the concentration camp in Malines, about his deportation and about what happened to the one thousand people with whom he was deported. I understand that the Defense will not object to our submitting this statement, especially as there is no direct reference to the Accused in it.

Judge Halevi: Is there any reason why he cannot come to testify?

State Attorney Bach: There is no reason of health or any other reason. We simply thought that, from the point of view of efficiency and convenience, there was no justification for bringing this man here specially in order to present this evidence. This is actually background evidence intended to complement the testimonies on points which are not in dispute at this trial. We thought that this would save time and that we could also spare the witness the trouble.

Presiding Judge: Yes, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: In principle, a document of this kind would not be admissible, but I understand it might be useful to have it submitted; however, the Court would have to take a decision to admit this document outside the usual trial procedure. I assume that the witness would testify in the same sense, if he were to appear and that the document will save time. I have therefore no objection in principle to the document, I should only like to ask for a ruling that it is admitted in this case for special reasons.

Presiding Judge: We shall defer giving our decision on this matter until after the intermission in the morning session.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, in that case there is only one more document I should like to submit in connection with Belgium - as a result of your Decision No. 12 given in connection with the report of a Polish Governmental Commission. I have here an official report, a document presented by the Ministry of Justice of Belgium. Its subject is anti-Semitic persecution in Belgium at the time of the Second World War. As laid down in the above- mentioned Decision No. 12, I request to submit this as evidence about the activities of the Accused or about the activities of the men of his Section.

This is proof that the Government of Belgium confirms what happened to its subjects during a specific period, the existence of camps, the deportations, the number of persons who disappeared, etc. I think that every government has the right to establish, that it is entitled to establish, such facts concerning its subjects. I request the Court to accept this report, which was prepared by a special governmental commission appointed for this purpose. I request that this document be accepted as evidence.

Presiding Judge: What has Dr. Servatius to say about this?

Dr. Servatius: I have no objection to it.

Presiding Judge: Was this a governmental commission?

State Attorney Bach: Yes.

Presiding Judge: Was this commission established on the basis of an explicit law, like the Polish Commission?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. This is apparent even from the report itself. The law in its entirety is even quoted here. It says here: "A decree of the Prince- Regent has established a Commission of Enquiry into the Violations of International Law, of the Laws and Customs of War...Charles, Prince-Regent of Belgium, etc..." That is the decree following which this commission was established.

Presiding Judge: By royal decree?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 17

We decide to accept the Belgian Report as evidence, in conformity with what is stated in our Decision No. 12, concerning the official Polish Report.

State Attorney Bach: It is our No. 362. I do not intend to read out this report, I want to draw attention to the paragraphs to which we attach particular importance here.

Presiding Judge: Have you translated the whole of it?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, we have translated it in full.

The first few pages are the Commission's guidelines, which official documents it would have to peruse, and the decisions it would have to take. I have the translation here.

On page 8 of the translation there is a description of the Jewish community on the eve of the German invasion, the state of full equality of rights for the Jews, and how the German invasion took the Jews by surprise.

Then on page 9 of the translation, the first operation, viz. the identification of the Jews as Jews, is described, and the details how this operation was carried out by the Germans, with what excuses, what subterfuges, they obtained the identification of the Jews as Jews.

On page 10 the expulsion of the Jews from the Belgian economy is described, as well as the registration of Jews - misleading them as if they were required to register for work.

On page 11 there is a list of the anti-Jewish laws promulgated after the occupation, based on German initiative and German influence. After this there is mention of the wearing of the "Star of David" and of the failure of this measure, since it did not have the desired effect on the Belgian population - from the German point of view - but provoked, on the contrary, demonstrations of sympathy for the Jews.

On page 12 there is a description of the concentration camp at Breendonck, the first place where the Jews were concentrated. Here figures are given and I should like to quote one sentence on page 13:

"In Breendonck executions were ordinary occurrences, since out of the 3,600 prisoners who passed through it, 450 were killed by shooting and twelve by hanging. And the height of sadism: After one of their co- religionists had been killed, the Jews had to file past the body and chant the song of Breendonck, the text of which contained these words: 'Wir werden nimmer Breendonck vergessen, das Paradies der Juden' (We shall never forget Breendonck, the paradise of the Jews)."
After this, the operation against the Jews in the Antwerp region is described, the detection, arrest and deportation of these Jews, the manifestations of anti-Semitism among the population, the burning of synagogues and all this - organized by the German authorities.

Page 14 speaks about the second stage of the German occupation, the stage of extermination, seizing of property, searches.

On page 15 - mobilization of the unemployed, and at the same time dismissals and transfer to work camps. That was the pattern, later we shall see the same thing in Holland: First an order is issued according to which all the unemployed have to be mobilized for work. Then measures are taken to have all Jews dismissed from their jobs so that they become unemployed, and then they are arrested under the first directive and deported to extermination camps. Raids, manhunts, mass arrests, attempts by Jews to escape, attempts by citizens to help, and failure of these efforts - all these are described.

On page 17 - deportations, first of foreign Jews and then also of Belgian Jews. We saw this, actually in Bargen's reports, but here the matter is again brought up in a summary by the Belgian Government. I shall quote only one short passage on page 17:

"These round-ups were usually accompanied by scenes of barbarism and brutality, especially in Antwerp. Raymond Tanghe's report throws light on the appalling circumstances in which they were carried out, but the report on the affair known by the sinister name of 'Convoy of Death' reveals more than any other with what sadism the executioners of the Gestapo carried out their mission. In the evening of 3 September 1943, 145 persons who had been arrested in round-ups organized in Antwerp against Belgian Jews were piled into a metal van, hermetically closed in, and sent to Malines. This transfer should have taken half an hour's travel at most. By a refinement of cruelty that surpasses all imagination this voyage was fiendishly prolonged for three hours.

"On arrival at Malines, when the doors were opened, a hideous spectacle became visible: 'When the doors of the hapless van were opened, a thick vapour escaped from it with a nauseating smell and, like fish spilling out from a vat that has been opened on one side, the doors, opening under the pressure from inside, spurted onto the ground a horrid, ugly mass of inflated human bodies, reddish and bluish, their eyes protruding, their clothes drenched with sweat and excrement.' Nine bodies were retrieved from the van, 24 persons were taken to hospital unconscious."

On page 18, Your Honours, there is a statistical table of those deported through the Malines concentration camp, from where they were transferred to Auschwitz. I shall perhaps only quote the first few figures. The first departure - on 4 August 1942: 1,000 persons were deported, 7 returned. On 11 August - 1,000 were deported, 3 returned. On 15 August - 1,000 deported, 5 returned. On 18 August - 1,000 deported, none returned. Later on, in the following years, more would sometimes return. Sometimes 11 out of 1,000 returned, once even 92 out of 1,908. Altogether, out of 25,400 deportees 1,276 were saved from death.

There is an example of an expulsion order here, then a description of the Malines camp, all the details of the brutality and sadism in those camps.

On page 21 I shall read only one sentence which speaks of the transports going to the extermination camps. In the beginning sometimes twice a week, later the interval became somewhat longer.

"Each of the departures became an occasion for atrocious scenes: The survivors of Malines are unanimous in declaring that the camp commanders displayed a despicably brutal attitude towards the victims. Knowing that those condemned to deportation were destined for a journey without return, they used all their ingenuity in order to make their last moments particularly painful.

"With whiplashes they took from the deportees the last personal possessions they had been able to hide; they brutally separated families whose members, once embarked, were never to see each other again. These practices were especially in vogue under the command of F... who would get drunk and then preside personally over the loading."

On page 22 the attempted escape of some Jews is described:
"The horrible conditions under which the internees were deported to the East, as well as the knowledge of the fate awaiting them, led to attempts at escape which ended in tragedy. The files of the Belgian Surete (Security Police) provide eloquent information in this respect, collected at the time of the events themselves. Two documents" - and the numbers are added - "describe the circumstances under which the deportees of the transport of 20 April 1943, tried to save themselves:

"'A train of Jews left Malines on 20 April 1943, in the direction of Germany...Jewish deportees, women, men and children shut up in cattle trucks, the hatches and sliding doors of which had been left slightly open. At the end of the train - a carriage in which the soldiers conveying the transport were sitting, armed with machine guns; the unfortunate people tried to use the chance of escape they had been given, but they did not suspect the trap that had been laid for them. The executioners mowed them down with automatic weapons. Some were killed on the spot, others crushed under the wheels. A few managed to escape...By 22 April 1945, 220 bodies had been found."

"It should be mentioned that those wounded during this attempt were sent back to the Malines camp in order to be deported eventually."

Then there is a description of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and on this we shall hear more details from witnesses. And finally: "The situation of the Jews of Belgium at the end of the occupation." And here are the final statistics of the number of the dead, and of the total spoils of Jewish property: 25,437 Jews were deported, including 10,800 men, 9,900 women and 4,364 infants of both sexes. Then there is a discussion about incidence of the responsibility, but this is already a legal analysis to which I shall of course not refer.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/520.

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