The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 34
(Part 2 of 8)

State Attorney Bach: Herewith, subject to the Court's decision on the statement by Gutmacher which will be given after the intermission, I have concluded the evidence about the holocaust of the Belgian Jews.

Now I pass on to the description of the holocaust of the Jews of Holland. First, I shall submit only three documents. The first one is Prosecution document No. 582. It is a memo by an official of the German Foreign Ministry on a telephone report from Ambassador Otto Bene, the representative of the German Foreign Ministry in Holland at that time. It speaks of the first physical assault on the Jews. In the telephone conversation it is reported that: "As a result of the murder of a WA man by Jewish assailants, who could not be found, 400 Jews will be brought from Holland to Germany, who will have to 'work' here." (The German Foreign Ministry official himself put the word work in quotation marks.) "The situation in Holland is unusually tense, a general strike has been proclaimed in Amsterdam, there is a strike in Groningen, and in Rotterdam a strike was expected. The attitude of the population was unfriendly," says Mr. Bene.

Presiding Judge: Woermann.

State Attorney Bach: Woermann passes on what he has heard from Bene over the telephone and he reports to his superiors.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/521.

State Attorney Bach: I should like to submit a few photographs to the Court relating to that first incident. Here we have confirmation from Baron van Tuyll van Sarooskerken, Delegate of the Government of the Netherlands with the office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes. He confirms that the documents marked in red in Latin figures I-X are photographs taken at the time of the attack on the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 February 1941. These pictures are part of a film included in one of the "N.G. Books" which were photographed and brought to this country in the way we described at the beginning.

Presiding Judge: These pictures are marked T/522.

Judge Halevi: These pictures show Wehrmacht soldiers, not SS men?

State Attorney Bach: I think these were men of the Wehrmacht, although I cannot say so with certainty. I think this operation was not carried out by SS men, certainly not the whole of it. Now we shall only show, with the help of the next document, who initiated this operation and what happened to these Jews. We shall in fact prove that these Jews, and also those of the second operation, were transferred to Mauthausen, and I think that not one of them remained alive.

In connection with this operation I submit one more Prosecution document, No. 1627. Here Foreign Ministry official Rademacher contacts Mueller and reports about an intervention by the Swedish Minister, who informed him that in February and in June 660 Dutch Jews had been transferred to concentration camps in Germany, and that he had learnt from the Jewish Committee* {*of Amsterdam} that 400 of these had died so far. The Swedish Minister had added that from the lists of the dead it appeared that the cases of death always occurred on the same day, in spite of the fact that the dead were usually young persons.

The Swedish Embassy, representing the Protecting Power of the Netherlands, had approached the German Foreign Ministry several times, asking for permission to visit these camps, but had not been allowed to do so. Mr. Rademacher suggests, first of all, that it is undesirable, in future, to bring such persons into the area of the Reich because, if they are not brought to the Reich area, the Swedish Protecting Power has no authority in the matter.

"Furthermore when cases of death are reported this has to be done in a way that will not create the impression that the deaths always occur on certain days. In principle, the Foreign Ministry holds the same opinion as the Head Office for Reich Security and supports, on its part, the reprisals against the Jews as the originators of the disturbances. However, in order to protect German is nevertheless necessary to deal with these matters in the manner mentioned above."
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/523.

State Attorney Bach: With the Court's permission, I shall now call Dr. Joseph Melkman.

The witness is sworn.

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Joseph Melkman.

Presiding Judge: Doctor?

Witness Melkman: Yes.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Melkman, you were born in Holland?

Witness Melkman: Yes.

Q. When did you come to Israel?

A. In May 1957.

Q. Apart from the fact that you suffered personally from what happened to Dutch Jewry during the War, you also conducted some research on this subject?

A. Yes, especially when I was the Director of Yad Vashem, I went into it more fully, but also before that, as editor of the Jewish weekly, I had to go into it from time to time in some depth.

Q. When were you the Director of Yad Vashem?

A. From 1957 to 1960.

Q. When the Second World War broke out, where were you living in Holland?

A. In Amsterdam.

Q. What was your occupation?

A. I was a teacher at a private gymnasium (grammar school), a teacher of Latin and Greek.

Q. A Jewish or general gymnasium?

A. Non-Jewish. And I was also editor of the Zionist weekly.

Q. Apart from the fact that you were the editor of the Zionist weekly, were you active in any Jewish movement?

A. Yes. I was very active in the youth movements. For some time I was chairman of all the youth movements in Holland, and for this reason I was also co-opted to the Executive of the Zionist Federation, upon the outbreak of the War.

Q. What was your family status then? Were you married when the War broke out?

A. Not yet.

Q. Perhaps just tell us when you married?

A. I married in September 1940.

Q. When did the Germans enter Holland?

A. On that day, 21 years ago, on 10 May 1940. We awoke in the morning to the sound of the bombing of the airport in Amsterdam, and then the Germans came in.

Q. What was the first thing that you, as Jews, felt about this change that occurred following the entry of the Germans?

A. The first thing was a ban on Jews continuing to serve in the guards against air attacks. But immediately thereafter came much severer regulations. The main one was that the Germans demanded that every civil servant sign a declaration to the effect that he was a so-called "Aryan" - at any rate that he was not a Jew, and in consequence of these declarations all Jewish civil servants were dismissed, and also teachers, including myself.

With me it took a little longer, because this was a private gymnasium and the principal objected to my being dismissed, and I was dismissed only after they forced him to do so, and he also closed the gymnasium.

Q. When were you dismissed?

A. It was in December 1940.

Q. When you talk about the issue of such regulations - who gave this instruction, in what way was it published; was it published in a particular place or was it merely an administrative order?

A. This was a circular to principals and to all...

Presiding Judge: Who issued the circular - do you know?

Witness Melkman: This circular was an instruction to the remaining Netherlands authorities from the Germans, if I remember rightly...

State Attorney Bach: And so this was the first manifestation?

Witness Melkman: Yes

Q. What was the next step?

A. The next step consisted of many minor matters, but the major event was the round-up of Jews in 1941. Prior to that, the Germans had tried to provoke the population of Holland against the Jews and made use of fascists who came into the Jewish quarters - in particular in one large neighbourhood - and there they tried to organize anti-Jewish demonstrations, to smash windows and so on. And when they encountered resistance - not only from the Jews, for non- Jews also came to the aid of the Jews - they proceeded differently. And on the Sabbath day - this was 22 February - a search was organized for Jews, in the Jewish quarter - and they were taken...

Q. In the Jewish Quarter - where?

A. In Amsterdam. And then on the Sabbath and on the following day, Sunday, more than 400 young people were arrested. They simply took them from the streets, beat them up, lined them up in a large square between the Amsterdam synagogues, and took them afterwards to a camp not far from Amsterdam, Schoorl, and from there they were transferred, as was already said at that time, first to the Buchenwald camp and subsequently to Mauthausen. The name Mauthausen...the Germans even told the Jews then that no one emerged alive from Mauthausen, in order to instil terror into the Jews of Amsterdam. Every time someone committed an offence, or a regulation was issued, they announced that anyone committing such an offence would be sent to Mauthausen.

Q. I wanted to ask you: When you said "they took these 400 young people," - who carried out this operation?

A. The "Gruene Polizei."

Q. The Green Police?

A. Yes.

Q. What did that mean?

A. The German police stationed in Amsterdam. As was established subsequently by the findings of the Red Cross, in fact out of all these people there remained only one, whose comrades in the camp - not Dutchmen - had hidden him.

Q. That means that out of this first group of 400 only one man survived?

A. Yes. Afterwards there was another group, in June...

Q. This was my next question: What were the circumstances which led to the seizure of the second group in June?

A. The circumstances were not immediately clear, but they said that there had been some attack on a house in South Amsterdam. But this time they took only 300 young people. Perhaps it would be worth my mentioning that, after the first occasion, the first round-up, the Germans promised the heads of Dutch Jewry that such a thing would never happen again. In June 1941, again 300 young people were detailed; amongst them there were very many comrades of mine, members of the Zionist youth movement. As it happened, I was supposed to give a lesson that evening, and they did not come and they were also sent off in the same way and did not come back. Not one of them returned.

Q. Not one of them returned?

A. Not one.

Q. And also those who were sent to Mauthausen?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Where is Mauthausen, in Holland or Germany?

Witness Melkman: In Austria.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Melkman, when the 400 Jews were arrested in February 1941, what was the reaction of the Dutch public?

Witness Melkman: A general strike broke out then; it began with the tram workers, but it developed later and embraced many other concerns and factories; water works were rendered idle; also elsewhere, not only in Amsterdam, but also in the towns surrounding Amsterdam, there were general strikes which were subsequently put down.

Q. Would you be able to tell this Court what were the main anti-Jewish directives decreed by the Germans and which you personally experienced?

A. Anti-Jewish directives...

Q. Directives, by-laws, regulations.

A. Laws, regulations - there were very many. Most were not even published, but simply came as an instruction to the Jewish leadership, and they were also occasionally published in the Jewish weekly.

These were in economic affairs. For example, the Jews had to register their lands, and afterwards all their lands were expropriated. The Jews had to hand over their property to some German service. The Germans at that time stole the Jewish name of a bank, Lippmann-Rosenthal, in order to cheat the Jews; the Jews had to deposit their money there. Each person received from this bank not more than 250 Florins a month, and anybody who was obliged to pay any sum of money to Jews, had to transfer the amount to this bank.

Apart from this, there were many other regulations: It was forbidden to go out after 8 - to be found in the street after 8 and before 6; it was forbidden to buy in non-Jewish shops - for a certain time only at the end of the day when everything was already sold out, since in general there was a shortage of food and, of course, the Jews did not receive any. Certain foodstuffs were altogether banned for Jews. Special markets were set up for Jews, and so on and so forth.

Q. What about the use of public transportation?

A. Vehicles were altogether prohibited, unless you received a particular permit from the German authorities, but these were very scarce, that is to say, the tram or the train - these were prohibited.

Q. What about entry into public places, cinemas, gardens, bath-houses etc.?

A. This was forbidden to the Jews right from the beginning - also cafes, gardens, public gardens, cinemas. The cinemas were banned, because they said that Jews became noisy when pro-German films were shown, but of course this was merely a pretext.

Q. Dr. Melkman, you said earlier that the Germans, at a particular stage, promised the Jewish Council that this would be the last time, that these things would not happen any more. Can you tell us when this Jewish Council was established?

A. The first talks about setting up the Council were at the beginning of February, still before the strike.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.